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WellPoint rate hikes spark protest in Indianapolis

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Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indiana, will speak Thursday at a protest rally outside WellPoint Inc.’s Indianapolis headquarters.

The organization behind the protest, a janitors union group called Central Indiana Jobs with Justice, wants WellPoint to delay implementing premium increases on individual policies that will average 21 percent in Indiana. Those hikes are scheduled to take effect March 1.

Some customers have complained of increases as high as 39 percent—which could mean hundreds of dollars more per year, according to calculations by Jobs with Justice.

In Indiana, this could mean a more than $100 increase per month for many Hoosiers.

“It is time for WellPoint to stop putting profit before people who depend upon their service,” said Allison Luthe, one of the organizers of the event. “Access to quality health insurance is a right, not an option. At these rates, people will have to choose between making their monthly household payments and keeping their health coverage.”

The rally begins at 9 a.m. on Monument Circle.

In a hearing Wednesday at the Indiana Statehouse, Rob Hillman, president of WellPoint’s Indiana subsidiary, blamed the premium increases on medical innovations that constantly drive up costs. On top of that, he said, increasing numbers of healthy people are dropping health insurance, leaving fewer dollars to cover the medical bills of unhealthy people who must keep coverage. That has forced WellPoint to raise rates even faster, he said.

Hillman downplayed the health insurance industry’s profits and high executive pay, saying they represent little more than 2 percent of the premiums.

A national furor over WellPoint’s rate hikes erupted Feb. 7 when President Obama chastised the company’s plans to raise individual premiums in California by as much as 39 percent. In that state, WellPoint agreed to delay implementation of those increases for two months while state regulators investigate.

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  1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

  2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

  3. Illegal aliens. Not undocumented workers (too young anyway). I note that this article never uses the word illegal and calls them immigrants. Being married to a naturalized citizen, these people are criminals and need to be deported as soon as humanly possible. The border needs to be closed NOW.

  4. Send them back NOW.

  5. deport now

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