Health & Human Services

Obama Meets with State Insurance Regulators to Discuss Cancelled Plans

November 21, 2013
 

State insurance commissioners met Wednesday with President Obama at the White House, where they say he acknowledged that some states were unlikely to implement his proposal to reverse millions of health insurance cancellations.

The commissioners shared their own concerns about the workability of his plan, which would give insurers an additional year to sell coverage that does not comply with the Obama health-care law’s regulations.

“He acknowledged that each state has to do what it deems appropriate and what its laws require,” Jim Donelon, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, said of the meeting. “We had a great dialogue, but we also came away with an agreement that there was a lot of differences of opinion over whether we can or should do what he urged us to do last week.”

The 50-minute meeting in the Oval Office included regulators from Louisiana, North Carolina and Connecticut. Other regulators invited to participate declined to attend, citing opposition to the hastily scheduled meeting.

Commissioners say the president was open to their ideas and understanding of the obstacles that stand in their way.

“It wasn’t the president trying to persuade or stiff-arm us,” Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi said. “He was wanting to make the point that he gets the value in our diversity and wants to help.”

The meeting comes after Obama caught many state regulators by surprise last week when he announced that insurers can continue offering policies through 2014 that don’t meet the basic requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Insurers who do so would give some consumers an extra year to keep policies that otherwise would have been canceled.

The proposal was aimed at solving a problem that was threatening the president’s credibility — he had repeatedly promised that people who liked their plans could keep them.

But the move also raised a host of questions for state insurance regulators, who must approve such policy changes before insurers reissue the plans, as well as for insurers and consumers.

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