The California bill, AB 52, which would have given state regulators the power to reject excessive health insurance premium increases, narrowly cleared the State Assembly and won approval in two critical Senate Committees earlier this year. But yesterday it was pulled from consideration because it didn’t have the votes to pass the full Senate. From San Francisco Chronicle:

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Mike Feuer, tabled his effort to regulate health rates after it became clear the bill would fail to muster enough votes in the Senate. He’ll bring it up again in the 2012 session.

“Right now, not enough senators are prepared to vote for any form of health insurance rate regulation,” Feuer, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement.

The failure of AB 52 to win approval in the state legislature is a real blow to regular Americans struggling to pay for health care, but it does give new urgency in California to control private health insurance premiums through the initiative process.

The California group, Consumer Watchdog, is planning to launch an initiative campaign that would not only provide state regulators with the power to reject premium increases but also create a state based public option.