A former assemblyman suggested Tuesday afternoon that the Legislature should consider reining in CalPERS' control of its struggling long-term care insurance program if the system follows through with plans to hike premiums for some policies by 85 percent.
Dave Elder,a Southern California Democrat who retired from the Assembly in 1992, led a long line of angry policyholders who complained to the Assembly Long-Term Care and Aging Committee about rate increases CalPERS has planned for two years starting in 2015.
Many suggested the system's program, which covers services such as nursing-home care and in-home aides, should be brought under the authority of the state Department of Insurance.
Elder figures monthly premiums for his policy, which provides lifetime, inflation-protected benefits, will increase from $282 now to more than $500.
If CalPERS persists with the rate increases, Elder said, the Legislature should threaten to withdraw the freedom it gave the fund to create and run the program in the mid-1990s.
"You get more with a loaded .45 and a nice smile," Elder said, "than with just a smile."
Similar private insurance plans are regulated by the state. State law puts CalPERS' self-funded program under the authority of its independent board, not the insurance commissioner.
Ann Boynton, who oversees CalPERS' benefit programs' policies, said that CalPERS would resist any efforts to curtail its independence.
She also said that the planned rate hikes might not be the last.
"We believe, but cannot guarantee, this will avoid further rate increases in the future," she said.
The audience of about 100 seniors packed into the Capitol hearing room burst into derisive laughter.