KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Insurers Leery About ‘Fix’ For Cancelled Plans

Top insurance industry executives met with the president on Friday and two spoke this morning, saying the rules change could create "problems."

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. “Keep in mind it is a suggestion, it is not a ruling and certainly is not a law,” Nelson said on "Fox News Sunday" (Epstein, 11/17).

The Washington Post: Ben Nelson: Insurance Commissioners Still Concerned About Obamacare Fix
Obama bowed to pressure from both parties Thursday when he announced a fix to clear the way for Americans whose plans are being canceled as a result of the federal health-care law to renew their coverage. In doing so, Obama left the ball in the court of state insurance commissioners, who have the power to decide whether or not to allow the fix. A handful of commissioners have already said they won't allow the fix, while others have signed off on it (Sullivan, 11/17). 

The Hill: Insurance Industry Warns Against Fix
“We have a policy disagreement,” Karen Ignagni, head of the industry group America's Health Insurance Plans, told "Fox News Sunday." “When you set rules in place, and an industry meets them, and then the rules are changed, that creates... problems.” ... She refused to criticize the White House, however, although it has renewed attacks on the industry for crafting plans that can leave Americans exposed to catastrophic expenses. She said the industry is working with the administration to come up with a solution(Pecquet, 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. ... Other issues discussed included a suggestion being floated by some in the insurance industry that they be allowed to enroll people directly, rather than through, the government’s troubled website (Abelson and Craig, 11/15).

The Washington Post: Obama Grapples With Resistance From States, Insurers To His Health-Insurance Fix
Summarizing the meeting afterward, the White House said Obama told the executives that they and the administration “share the same goal: getting more Americans covered." ... Among the 15 executives participating were the CEOs of Aetna, Humana, CareFirst, Kaiser Permanente and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The administration side included Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff; and Valerie Jarrett, a senior Obama adviser (Branigin and Eilperin, 11/15).

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