Jones Urges Covered California To Lift Health Plan Cancellation Order
On Thursday, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (D) urged Covered California to give insurers a one-year delay before the cancellation of policies that do not meet the Affordable Care Act's minimum coverage requirements, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
The move comes after President Obama announced a plan that would allow insurers to extend such plans for individual policyholders through 2014 (Cadelago, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 11/14).
About one million individual policyholders in California recently have been notified by their insurers that their current insurance policies will be discontinued at the end of the year because they do not meet minimum coverage requirements under the ACA.
However, Jones in the last two weeks has required Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross to delay the cancellation of such plans in order to give consumers more time to select new coverage (California Healthline, 11/12).
On Thursday, Obama announced a plan that would allow insurers in 2014 to continue selling insurance plans even if they do not meet the law's minimum coverage requirements.
The plan also would require insurers that extend such plans to inform consumers that more comprehensive coverage options might be available in the health insurance exchanges and to list the benefits they would be going without if they choose to keep their current policies (California Healthline, 11/14).
On Thursday, Jones said, "It was a mistake to require that those policies be cancelled" (Williams, AP/U-T San Diego, 11/14).
Jones said he has asked the state health insurance exchange to release health plans from the cancellation requirement "immediately" so that insurers can follow Obama's plan.
He also is urging insurers to notify policyholders about the option to renew existing plans ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 11/14).
"I will do everything within my power to urge that California's insurance companies and HMOs follow the president's call," Jones added (Bartolone, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 11/14).
In a statement, Patrick Johnson -- president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans -- said, "Reversing course now could cause a significant disruption in the marketplace, given that rates and benefit plans for 2014 have already been set by Covered California."
Johnson added, "The entire underlying premise of the ACA -- balancing costs of the young, old, sick and healthy -- has been left adrift with [Obama's] announcement" (AP/U-T San Diego, 11/14).
He said California should "stay the course and transition people into more comprehensive policies that meet the requirements" of the ACA (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 11/14).
Officials with Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente said they are reviewing the announcement and determining how to move forward.
In a statement, Kaiser said, "Our common goal should be to minimize any unintended effects, and avoid -- as much as possible -- further disruption for individuals and families who are already seeing significant change as a result of health care reform."
Dana Howard, a Covered California spokesperson, said the exchange doesn't "know right off the cuff at this point what the impacts [of the change] will be."
Howard said the exchange "will be working intensely with the regulators and the policymakers, as well as the health plans, as to how best to fulfill the president's guidance" (Gorman/Varney, Kaiser Health News, 11/15).
Roy Kennedy -- another exchange spokesperson -- said that the exchange knows there is an "urgent need for clarity around this segment of policy and is working closely with health plans, regulators, and policymakers to quickly determine how the president's new guidance will be fulfilled for Californians" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 11/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.