Washington First State to Reject Obamacare Cancellation Fix

Image: Washington First State to Reject Obamacare Cancellation Fix Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 05:24 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Washington state’s insurance commissioner Thursday became the first to promptly reject the president’s Obamacare quick-fix allowing insurance carriers to extend plans for those who’ve been bumped from coverage, The Seattle Times reported.

But he may not be the last.

“I do not believe his proposal is a good deal for the state of Washington,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said in a statement. “We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies.”

The “no-thanks” came within two hours of President Obama’s announcement of a proposed administrative fix for millions of insured Americans who are losing their coverage.

Kriedler said he understood people were “upset” by the cancellations and that “they may not need the new benefits” in the Affordable Care Act.

“But I have serious concerns about how President Obama’s proposal would be implemented and more significantly, its potential impact on the overall stability of our health insurance market,” he said.

Kriedler’s rejection is ominous since a letter the Obama administration sent to state insurance commissioners makes it clear the fix relies on insurance commissioners taking action and implementing the changes.

At the same time, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said it wasn’t sure how the proposed patch would even be put into effect, Business Insider reported.

In a statement, association president Jim Donelon warned of disruption to the insurance market and a rise in premiums — concerns echoed by America's Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying group that represents the insurance industry, Business Insider reported.

"We ... are concerned by the president’s announcement today that the federal government would use its 'enforcement discretion' to delay enforcement of the ACA’s market reforms in 2014 for plans that are currently in effect,” said the national association.

“This decision continues different rules for different policies and threatens to undermine the new market, and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond.”

The association noted it’s unclear “as a practical matter” how the change can be put into effect since in many states, cancellation notices have already gone out to policyholders and rates and plans already have been approved for 2014.

“Changing the rules through administrative action at this late date creates uncertainty and may not address the underlying issues,” the association stated.

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