Insurance Commissioner: Patience

Photograph byTed S. Warren/AP Photo

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is interviewed in his office in this 2008 file photo.

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who rebuffed the Obama administration and isn’t letting his state’s residents keep canceled health-care policies, is urging patience with the Obamacare enrollment process.

“This is in the early stages of enrollment,” he told the House Ways and Means Committee during a hearing today.

Kreidler, 70, said his decision against extending policies that don’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act isn’t a sign he opposes President Barack Obama or has broader concerns about the law.

“I simply believe that the option offered does not work for the state of Washington — a decision the president permitted by giving insurance commissioners flexibility to make a state-level decision.”

The White House in November notified state insurance commissioners that they should tell insurers that they can continue the sale of canceled policies for an additional year.

The extension is available only to those already enrolled in the policies that were canceled because they didn’t meet coverage standards m required under the law. The change will be effective for one year, until the end of 2014.

Kreidler said he’s turned down the chance to let people keep their now-canceled policies because his state has its own exchange and he wants to move ahead.

“Allowing discontinued plans back into the market at this late date would have only created uncertainty and disruption for our entire health insurance marketplace,” he said in written testimony. “Insurance companies would have had to roll back the protections they have already begun to assess their new coverage options. If consumers then chose to stay in the old plans, it could skew the careful calibrations about enrollment and risk that insurers have make, which could lead to higher premiums next year.”



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