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Missouri was one of 45 states to request and receive a 1 million dollar grant to improve oversight of the insurance market.  The grants, part of the Patient Protection and Afordable Care Act (PPACA), are meant to help states put into place a regulatory infrastructure that will “help improve the oversight of proposed health insurance premium increases, take action against insurers seeking unreasonable rate hikes, and ensure Missourians receive value for their premium dollars.”

Worried that the PPACA gave too much power to private insurers? Well these grants are a first step toward insuring that they don’t abuse that power and hike rates arbitrarily:

The Health Insurance Premium Review Grants are one element of a broad effort under the Affordable Care Act to reduce the unreasonable premium increases proposed by some insurers today.  Additional resources from this $250 million program will be available in subsequent years to further strengthen State health insurance premium review procedures.

I know that there is a noisy but small cadre of Missourians who voted for Proposition C because it they believe that the PPACA curtailed curtails their “liberty” to do themselves and everybody else over; I am equally sure that many of these same Missourians espouse a cloud cukoo land concept of free markets and will be up in arms about  efforts to introduce common sense regulation to what is currently a rogue insurance industry that wields outsize power at the state level:

In many states, it is the insurance industry that largely control the regulatory process, funneling money to key state lawmakers and squelching efforts to expand government oversight of premiums, a review of state regulations and campaign donations shows.

“The pressure that the industry can bring to bear in state legislatures is unbelievable,” said J. Robert Hunter, a former insurance commissioner in Texas. “They pretty much get what they want.”

We call the people who want to prolong this situation Tea Partiers or Republican wingers – and we will have to make just as much noise as they do and hope that a few of our saner state politicians develop some backbone. We have lots to loose if they don’t because, particularly if paired with prior approval authority, the Health Insurance Premium Review Grants could go a long way toward leveling the playing field for consumers and bringing health care costs down. And who, Tea Party imbibers aside, could object to that.  

Actually, even those states pandering to Tea Partiers may be reconsidering.  According to the Wonk Room, 19 of the 22 states that are suing the federal government over health care reform are quite happy to accept Health Insurance Premium Review Grants.

Title edited slightly