View Count: 31 |  Publish Date: November 21, 2013
State Insurance Heads Snub Obama on Policy Cancellations
By Anna Edney & Alex Wayne - 2013-11-21T05:01:00Z
Kansas, North Dakota and other stateinsurance commissioners snubbed a meeting with President BarackObama set up to discuss allowing some people to keep medicalplans that don’t meet the requirements of the U.S. health law.
Six commissioners e-mailed their counterparts to say theyweren’t invited or wouldn’t attend yesterday’s meeting at theWhite House because of reservations about the one-year reprievefor substandard health plans. The Patient Protection andAffordable Care Act requires that all health plans next yearmeet minimum rules for coverage.
The president offered a compromise last week after hundredsof thousands of people began receiving cancellation notices fromtheir insurers and were told that new policies complying withthe law known as Obamacare would cost more. States, whichindividually oversee insurance regulations, are divided onwhether to follow Obama’s request, a split they said underminedthe purpose of the meeting.
“Because the topic for the meeting (Affordable Care Act)is so delicate and potentially divisive among the nation’sinsurance commissioners, a meaningful discussion between all thecommissioners needs to take place before a meeting with thepresident,” North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm saidin an e-mail. “Unfortunately, that did not happen so I had torespectfully decline to participate.”
The commissioners who attended the meeting in the OvalOffice said they conveyed the lack of consensus to thepresident. Different Views
“The president acknowledged our diversity at the state-based regulatory level and also acknowledged the complexity ofthe issues that we’re dealing with and the change that hesuggested last week,” Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, president of the National Association of InsuranceCommissioners, said on a conference call yesterday after the 50-minute meeting. “We discussed all of those issues, pricing,solvency, different state laws, and he acknowledged all ofthat.”
Donelon said the association’s role isn’t to advocate foror against implementation of the president’s policy.
Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi andWayne Goodwin, the commissioner in North Carolina, attended themeeting as well as Ben Nelson, the association’s chief executiveofficer and a former U.S. senator from Nebraska, according to astatement from the group.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebeliusalso was there. Agreement Needed
Commissioners of six states -- North Dakota, Montana,Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire and Kansas -- wrote in aletter to the association that they wouldn’t attend because theywant to see greater consensus.
“This meeting has not been discussed in any meaningful waywith the entire membership of the NAIC nor have we worked tobuild consensus among the members on what our positions will bein the meeting,” the six states wrote.
Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger didn’t attendthe meeting as she was working with insurers in her state todetermine how the fix might be implemented, Bob Hanson, aspokesman, said in an e-mail.
“Those business and regulatory discussions are keeping thecommissioner here in Kansas to make sure any details arehammered out in the best interest of our citizens,” he said. Opting Out
The $1.4 trillion Affordable Care Act sought to raise thebar for the U.S. health system through provisions that includedmandating an end to discrimination against people with pre-existing health conditions and requiring all policies to meetminimum coverage rules in return for an obligation that allAmericans obtain insurance or pay a fine.
Republican opponents of the law recently seized on reportsthat hundreds of thousands of Americans got notices that theirexisting plans had been canceled, contradicting Obama’s repeatedpledge that people who liked their existing coverage would beable keep it.
The president’s new strategy protects insurance plans soldto individuals in place in 2013 for as long as a year if stateofficials approve. The fix exempts existing plans with renewaldates as late as Oct. 1, 2014, extending non-compliance wellinto 2015.
Washington state and Massachusetts have already opted outwhile the heads of health exchanges in California and New Yorkhave said Obama’s reprieve may jeopardize the “risk pool” ofpatients needed to make the health law viable. Goodwin, of NorthCarolina, has called on companies not to cancel plans.
To contact the reporters on this story:Anna Edney in Washington at;Alex Wayne in Washington at
To contact the editor responsible for this story:Reg Gale at

Time: 12:27  |  News Code: 348649  |  Site: bloomberg
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