Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen has held two public meetings in the past month for the state's three health insurance companies on the Affordable Care Act Exchange to hear their case for vastly increased rates.

Lindeen said the first hearing was in Helena on July 26, and the second was held in Billings on August 3.

"All three companies presented their justification for those rate requests, and I had an opportunity to ask them questions," Lindeen said. "Because the Blue Cross Blue Shield request was so high that we have really worked hard with that company, and we have told them that they could lower their requested increase by about 20 percent."

Lindeen said the long process is coming to a close.

"We got the final filings from the companies on Friday, and we're working through that today, and we will be making a public announcement either on Tuesday or Wednesday," she said. "We'll be sending those to CMS and hopefully, we'll be able to make a final announcement about those rates here in the next week or so."

Lindeen said that opposition to the Affordable Care Act in Congress is actually making rates go higher because it is keeping more federal subsidies from being released to the consumer.

"There are several reasons why the costs are going up," she continued. "Number one, the cost of care continues to rise, and number two, unfortunately, we have this political football that's being played with the Affordable Care Act in Congress, and there were certain payments that were supposed to go to the insurance industry to help them through the transition period, but those payments have been cut, and so insurance companies are not getting that money and so, we're paying the cost."

Lindeen said members of Congress must move past the partisan wrangling to release federal monies so that rates can become normalized.