KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

States Consider What Obama’s Canceled Plan Request Means For Them

The president's plan to allow insurers to extend canceled health plans through 2014 has state regulators  trying to work through the details about how this will affect insurers and the health law's marketplaces in their states. In California, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has asked insurers and marketplace officials to comply with the president's request.

Los Angeles Times: Obama's Call For Insurers To Extend Canceled Health Plans Splits State
With 1 million Californians facing cancellation of their health insurance, state officials and the insurance industry were sharply divided over President Obama's call to let consumers extend their policies. And the state agency on the spot, California's health insurance exchange, was noncommittal on what exactly it will do for affected policyholders. Health insurers in the state warned that abruptly reversing course -- and doing what Obama wants -- could undermine California's new insurance marketplace and trigger more rate increases (Terhune, 11/14).

Kaiser Health News: California Considers Its Options On Canceled Insurance Plans
President Barack Obama's announcement Thursday that insurers can extend cancelled policies that don't comply with the health law has prompted conflicting reactions from California insurance regulators and the companies they oversee. State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said he will urge companies to let more than a million consumers keep their plans for an additional year, fulfilling the president's promise that people didn't have to switch policies if they didn't want to. "The federal government told people in California and throughout the United States that they could stay in their plans," he said at a press conference Thursday (Gorman and Varney, 11/15).

The Sacramento Bee: Dave Jones Says California Customers Should Be Allowed To Keep Health Plans
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said he's taken steps Thursday to allow more than 1 million residents with terminating insurance plans to keep them through next year. Jones said he's asked Covered California to release insurers offering plans on the exchange from the requirement to cancel policies that don't comply with the health care overhaul. "I've asked Covered California to take this action immediately so that health insurers are free then from this contract provision and can follow the president's request, and my request, that they allow their existing customers to renew their policies into 2014," Jones, a staunch supporter of the federal health law, said in a conference call from San Francisco (Cadelago, 11/14).

The San Francisco Chronicle: California Asks Insurers To Extend Policies
Hours after President Obama encouraged insurers to let policyholders keep their current plans for now, the state's insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, called for the state's health insurance marketplace, Covered California, to lift a provision requiring health insurers to terminate individual policies that fall short of the health law's requirements. Those policies were to end by Dec. 31 and people would be offered new options that cover all the benefits in the federal health law. Jones said he doesn't have the authority to force the exchange and insurance companies to let policyholders keep their current plans, but hopes they will give people a choice (Colliver, 11/14).

The Associated Press: Chaney: No Big Impact From Canceled Policies
Mississippi consumers should not see a big impact from President Barack Obama's reversal on a key part of the federal health law, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said Thursday. But, like many state insurance commissioners across the nation, Chaney also said the president's actions could hurt the insurance industry and increase prices over time (Pettus, 11/14).

MinnPost: Obamacare Change: Minnesota Regulators, Officials Scrambling After Obama Reversal On Canceled Policies
President Obama's administrative fix for canceled and changed health care policies has Minnesota regulators, officials, insurers and the state's health exchange scrambling Thursday to figure out what to do. It may not even be possible for Minnesota’s insurers to reverse the advances they've made in coverage before the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act goes into effect on Jan. 1. So far, the long-term effects of the president’s announcement are unclear (Nord, 11/14).

Minnesota Public Radio: Change To Health Law Has Unclear Minn. Impact 
Among the questions in Minnesota is how the president's decision will square with Minnesota insurance law which bans outright cancellation of health insurance, requiring plans instead to offer policyholders new terms instead. The president's about-face presents a difficult choice for Minnesota's insurance plans, too: if the state gives them the option of keeping the old plans on the books, they may have to go through the actuarial and bureaucratic hassle of getting them reapproved by the state -- a tall order just six weeks before the year ends. If they don't, they may risk further frustrating already disgruntled customers (Richert, 11/14).

Des Moines Register: Obamacare Fix Draws Mix Of Disapproval, Skepticism From Iowa Lawmakers
Neither of Iowa's U.S. senators is completely on board with President Barack Obama's decision Thursday to let health insurance companies continue offering current policies through 2014. U.S. Rep. Steve King also chimed in to lambaste the law and Thursday's announced fix. The president's move was meant to tamp down the controversy over the looming cancellation of millions of individual health insurance policies that don’t meet requirements of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (Leys, 11/15).

The Dallas Morning News: Rick Perry Blasts Obama's Proposed Insurance Fix 
A contrite President Obama unveiled a new rule that allows state insurance commissioners to okay the renewal of health policies for a year that don't offer sufficient coverage under the Affordable Care Act. It would allow many policyholders to retain their insurance. But Gov. Rick Perry condemned Obama for telling states to sidestep the ACA. While Texas has the greatest rate of uninsured citizens in the nation, Perry has rejected Texas establishing its own health care exchange or extending greater Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Hoppe, 11/14).

Georgia Health News: Obama's Patch For ACA Much Like Georgia's
Facing a storm of criticism about canceled policies, Obama announced an administrative change to let insurers continue offering individual plans for another year, even if they don’t meet the Affordable Care Act's minimum benefits. In Georgia, to a large extent, such a remedy is already available. Many health insurers in Georgia are allowing individuals to retain their policies through late 2014. GHN reported earlier this month that most Georgia insurers are letting consumers have an option to renew their plan before Jan. 1 and avoid the ACA's benefits requirements (Miller, 11/14).

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