KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Moves To Extend Some Canceled Insurance Plans, But Will Everyone Go Along?

President Obama's one-year plan to allow insurers to keep Americans on plans previously canceled under the health law's new standards faces several questions in implementation: Will insurers, customers and state regulators will go along? Also, The Wall Street Journal reports that the move could pave the way for the insurance plans to be extended beyond 2014.

The New York Times: Obama Moves To Avert Cancellation Of Insurance
President Obama, trying to quell a growing furor over the rollout of his health care law, bowed to bipartisan pressure on Thursday and announced a policy reversal that would allow insurance companies to temporarily keep people on health plans that were to be canceled under the new law because they did not meet minimum standards (Parker and Pear, 11/14).

The Washington Post: Obama Announces Change To Address Health Insurance Cancellations
President Obama relented to pressure from the public and his own party Thursday and changed one of the bedrock requirements of the new health care law to fulfill his promise to allow people to keep their insurance plans if they want. While the move was aimed at solving a problem that was threatening the president's credibility and public faith in the law, it raised a slew of new questions, including whether insurers would adjust, whether millions of customers would pay higher premiums and whether states would make the fix available (Eilperin, Goldstein and Sun, 11/14).

The Wall Street Journal: White House To Allow Insurers To Continue Canceled Health Plans
The president's support for allowing the insurance plans to continue for existing policyholders essentially shifted responsibility for the cancellations to the insurers. Millions of people have received cancellation notices from their insurers, who said the policies aren't compliant with new requirements for coverage and have changed too much since 2010 to be eligible for a "grandfathering" exemption. It remained unclear how many insurers would restore policies they had ended, and some industry officials called Mr. Obama's reversal unworkable (Lee and Radnofsky, 11/14).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Acts To Ease Health Insurance Plan Cancellations
President Obama's plan to help millions of consumers facing health insurance cancellations calmed Democrats on Capitol Hill on Thursday even as its practical effect appeared unclear. The decision could give some consumers who like their health plans the chance to keep them into 2015, allowing the president to say he honored his pledge that his health law would not force Americans to give up their coverage (Levey, Hennessey and Memoli, 11/14).

Kaiser Health News: What Consumers Need To Know About The Obama Plan For Canceled Health Policies
President Barack Obama's pledge to Americans that they could keep their health plans if they liked them began to backfire last month. Insurers sent cancellation letters to hundreds of thousands of customers holding individual and family policies, saying the plans didn’t comply with health law provisions effective Jan. 1. Obama eventually apologized. On Thursday he offered what he called 'an idea that will help' fix the problem, allowing insurers to renew existing plans even if they don't include the full menu of health-law benefits" (Hancock, Appleby, Galewitz and Gorman, 11/15).

Los Angeles Times: Health Care Q & A: What Do Obama’s New Plans Mean? 
Millions of Americans have been notified in recent weeks by their health insurance companies that their coverage will soon be canceled because of President Obama’s health care law. To address the outrage over these cancellations, the Obama administration on Thursday outlined a new policy to allow insurers to extend current health plans into 2015 (Levey, 11/14).

The Associated Press: Policy Cancellations: President Obama Will Allow Old Plans 
Bowing to pressure, President Barack Obama on Thursday announced changes to his health care law to give insurance companies the option to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled. The administrative changes are good for just one year, though senior administration officials said they could be extended if problems with the law persist. Obama announced the changes at the White House (11/14).

The Boston Globe: Obama Yields On Below-Par Insurance
Brought about by a self-inflicted wound, it was a major concession by the president on a core element of his 2010 Affordable Care Act. Purging substandard plans, with their low premiums but weak and patchy coverage, is considered crucial to overhauling insurance markets. The individual market for years has been the arena for coverage denials for preexisting conditions, premium increases, and the highest deductibles and copays (Jan and Bierman, 11/15).

McClatchy: Rolling Health Care Waters, Obama's Fix Could Make Matters Worse
But Obama’s much-delayed attempt to make good on his promise that Americans could keep their insurance plans if they liked them faces strong opposition from insurance companies, which warn that rates might spike, and it risks undermining the basic premise of his law, which requires quality, affordable insurance. "We fumbled the rollout on this health care law," a contrite Obama said in an hour-long news conference Thursday at the White House. "We should have done a better job getting that right on day one – not on day 28 or on day 40" (Kumar and Clark, 11/14).  

The Wall Street Journal: Officials Leave Door Open to Further Extension of Older Health Plans
The Obama administration signaled it might consider a further extension beyond 2014 of insurance plans that were initially set to be canceled at the end of this year. President Barack Obama outlined a plan earlier Thursday that aims to allow current policy holders to keep their insurance policies in 2014. Millions of Americans who have individual coverage have received notices from insurance companies canceling policies that don't meet requirements under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, but Mr. Obama's move paves the way for some of those policies to be revived (Dooren, 11/14).

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