KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Administration’s Fix On Policy Cancellations Triggers Confusion Among Consumers, Doubts Among Insurers

News outlets examine the continuing reaction to President Barack Obama's fix as well as how the news is playing on the state level.  

USA Today: After Obamacare Fix, Consumers Remain Uncertain
Cathy Pedersen is in what amounts to health insurance limbo. When President Obama announced a rule change last week to his Affordable Care Act that potentially would allow hundreds of thousands of Americans to keep their old insurance plans, Pedersen saw a glimmer of hope that the inexpensive, high-deductible plan she's been purchasing for nearly 20 years wouldn't be canceled after all (Madhani and Barnett, 11/17).

The New York Times: After Obama Meeting, Insurers Question Plan's Workability
A day after they were caught off guard by President Obama's proposal to prevent cancellation of insurance policies for millions of Americans, top executives of some of the biggest insurance companies emerged from a meeting at the White House on Friday, expressing mixed feelings about whether the idea could work in every state.  The hastily called meeting was an attempt by the White House to address the growing frustration of the nation’s insurers over the administration’s fumbling of the health care law. It came just a day after the president announced on television that insurers could now continue coverage for people whose policies were being canceled because they did not meet the new law’s standards (Abelson and Craig, 11/15).

Politico: States Divided Over Complying With Obamacare 'Fix'
State regulators aren't rushing to President Barack Obama’s rescue after the White House's attempt to fix the rising wave of canceled health insurance policies. The president's decision to extend the renewal window for existing health plans won't work for the millions losing their coverage unless insurers and state insurance regulators give their blessing (Millman and Cheney, 11/18).

CQ HealthBeat: State Leaders, Insurers In No Rush To Embrace Obamacare Fix
State officials and insurers continued to react cautiously on Friday to the Obama administration’s plan to let health insurance companies extend policies that were slated for cancellation under the health care law (Adams, 11/15).

Politico: Insurance Lobby: ACA Fix No Panacea
Two top insurance industry executives bent over backwards on Sunday not to pick a fight with the Obama administration, even as they said the president's latest Obamacare fix will be a real pain for them. Former Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), the namesake of the infamous and discarded Cornhusker Kickback in the Affordable Care Act who is now the chief executive of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, said President Barack Obama’s fix to allow insurance companies to continue offering substandard plans through 2014 has no teeth (Epstein, 11/17).

Fox News: Obama's Fix For Canceled Insurance Policies Could Raise Costs, Experts Warn
President Obama's proposal to allow insurance companies to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled under the federal health care law could lead to an increase in premiums, according to insurance industry experts and state regulators. America's Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, said Obama's offer comes too late and could lead to higher premiums, since companies already have set 2014 rates based on the assumption that many people with individual coverage will shift over to the new markets created under the law (11/16).

The Associated Press: 4 Questions To Consider About Insurance Extensions
President Barack Obama is trying to make it possible for Americans to keep their health insurance coverage if they like it. But his now infamous promise may not be realistic. … Here's what you need to know if you have received a cancellation notice (Murphy, 11/18).

Some are asking what might happen next -

Politico: Obamacare: So, What Could Go Wrong Next?
The stumble-filled debut of President Barack Obama’s health care law is drawing new attention to the other risks that have been on the radar screen of health care wonks for months. Think health insurance plans sinking under the weight of sick customers, newly insured people being stunned that they still have to spend on health care, and possibly another wave of canceled policies — right before the 2014 elections (Nather, 11/18).

Meanwhile, state officials and lawmakers start taking action -

Kaiser Health News: California Sends Incorrect Information To 246,000 Low-Income Patients
California has mistakenly sent letters to 246,000 low-income residents, warning they may need to find new doctors next year under the state’s newly expanded Medicaid program. The error frustrated counties and community health centers which have repeatedly assured patients they can keep their providers when the Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014. The patients are part of the state’s "bridge to reform" program, which was designed to cover uninsured, poor Californians until they became eligible for Medicaid, known as Medi-Cal here (Gorman, 11/17).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Florida Regulator, Blues Plan Agree To Insurance Fix Proposed By Obama
Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said he will allow insurers to adopt President Barack Obama’s plan to extend current policies facing cancellation so that consumers can keep the coverage they have now. In fact, he was permitting plans to do that months before the president suggested it (Galewitz, 11/15).

The CT Mirror: McKinney Calls For Special Session To Prevent Obamacare Insurance Cancellations
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, introduced Obamacare as a gubernatorial issue Friday by challenging Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to call a special legislative session to allow insurance companies to extend insurance policies slated for cancellation at the end of the year. In a late afternoon press conference, McKinney, a candidate for governor, characterized the Democratic governor as a strong backer of the president on health care, echoing efforts by the national GOP to use Obamacare as a wedge issue in next year's mid-term congressional races (Becker and Pazniokas, 11/15). 

The Oregonian: Oregon Announcement Could Mean Good News For People With Expiring Health Coverage
More than 140,000 Oregonians whose health insurance policies face cancellation on Dec. 31 could soon be able to renew them, but only if their insurers take advantage of a policy reversal on Friday. Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali said insurers can now extend health plans that otherwise were set to be cancelled, meaning many Oregonians who otherwise face higher 2014 premiums could get a break (Budnick, 11/15) .

Georgia Health News: Insurers Try To Figure Out Next Moves
Officials in the state’s insurance industry were busy Friday puzzling over what exactly President Obama’s decision on canceled policies means for them and their customers. "This is going to be a very confusing customer experience,’" said Graham Thompson, executive director of the Georgia Association of Health Plans, an industry trade group (Miller, 11/15).

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