Friday, October 15, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Regence's Rate Filings May Have Violated Law, Senn Contends


OLYMPIA - Washington's largest health-insurance carrier may have violated the law by pushing for rate increases in four successive filings this year, state Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn said today.

In a news release, the commissioner said inconsistencies and errors in Regence BlueShield's filings "unnecessarily complicated the rate reviews, confused the public and suggested that the series of rate filings was intended to manipulate the regulatory process."

A hearing to examine the issue will be scheduled as soon as her staff and Regence's attorneys can meet and agree on a schedule, Senn said.

Regence spokesman Chris Bruzzo had no immediate comment while company officials studied Senn's claims.

In May, Senn denied a Regence request to raise rates 28.1 percent for 55,000 people who buy health insurance individually, not through employers.

At the time, Regence officials said they would answer Senn's questions about the proposed increases and resubmit the request.

But Senn said Regence's series of filings did not address the discrepancies her staff pointed out.

The filings lacked documentation required by state law, were contradictory and included "suspect" data, and failed to explain inconsistencies in previous data, she said.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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