Obama, Insurers Discuss Health Insurance Policy Cancellation ‘Fix’
President Obama on Friday met with several health insurance leaders and executives to discuss implementation strategies for the administrative "fix" to the policy cancellation issue that he announced the day before, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Pace, AP/Sacramento Bee, 11/18).
Under Obama's plan, insurers in 2014 would be allowed to continue to sell policies even if they do not meet minimum coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act (California Healthline, 11/15).
White House Meeting
At the start of the meeting, Obama reportedly pledged to implement any fixes to the ACA through a "collaborative process" and to solicit ideas from insurers (Sink, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 11/15).
Among the 15 executives in attendance were the CEOs of Aetna, CareFirst, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, also attended the meeting (Branigin/Eilperin, Washington Post, 11/15).
The executives emphasized that the new insurance market would need to have a balanced mix of consumers -- including young, healthy individuals -- and discussed how to address their concerns that the balance might be compromised if more people than expected retain their non ACA-compliant plans throughout the year, the New York Times reports.
The meeting also addressed the problem-plagued federal health insurance exchange website and a suggestion that insurers be allowed to enroll consumers directly into coverage plans.
Following the meeting, the executives agreed that they are willing to work with the Obama administration to address the cancellation issue, while protecting the financial viability of the new market. Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, described the hour-long meeting as "very productive" (Abelson/Craig, New York Times, 11/15).
The White House also described the meeting as "productive," noting in a meeting read-out that the executives and administration officials "discussed the next steps in working with states and state insurance commissioners to use the new flexibility the administration announced to address cancellation notices going to consumers" (Washington Post, 11/15).
State Regulators Grapple With Offer
Meanwhile, several state insurance regulators on Friday said they were caught off-guard by Obama's decision to alter the ACA's minimum coverage requirement and are looking into whether their states' laws allow them to comply with the policy change, the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, state regulators -- who typically oversee insurance policies -- are not accustomed to regulating around executive orders, which are not considered to be law.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners President James Donelon, who also is the insurance commissioner of Louisiana, described the situation as "unique" and said he is "not aware of a precedent for it."
Monica Lindeen, vice president of NAIC and the insurance commissioner of Montana, said Obama's policy change "throws everything on its head" after three years when states were preparing to comply with the law.
Although some states' regulators immediately announced that they would comply with the president's plan, others are weighing their options and considering consumers' demand to keep their plans against any potential downfalls of making a last-minute change to the insurance market, the Post reports (Sun et al., Washington Post, 11/15).
According to the Times, the states that likely will face the biggest hurdles to enact the policy change are those that have established their own health insurance exchanges (New York Times, 11/15). Three of the states that already have declined to honor existing health policies -- Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- are operating their own marketplaces (Humer/Skinner, Reuters, 11/15).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.