An organization of U.S. state insurance commissioners on Thursday expressed "concern" at President Barack Obama's administrative "fix" to the Affordable Care Act, which will allow insurers to keep offering current plans for a year even if they don't meet certain minimum requirements of the law.
Jim Donelon, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, said in a statement that he's not sure how the proposed patch will practically be put into effect.
He also warned of disruption to the insurance market and a rise in premiums, concerns that were echoed by America's Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying group that represents the insurance industry.
Here's Donelon's statement, in part:
"We ... are concerned by the President’s announcement today that the federal government would use its 'enforcement discretion' to delay enforcement of the ACA’s market reforms in 2014 for plans that are currently in effect. This decision continues different rules for different policies and threatens to undermine the new market, and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond.
In addition, it is unclear how, as a practical matter, the changes proposed today by the President can be put into effect. In many states, cancellation notices have already gone out to policyholders and rates and plans have already been approved for 2014. Changing the rules through administrative action at this late date creates uncertainty and may not address the underlying issues. We look forward to learning more details of this policy change and about how the administration proposes that regulators and insurers make this work for all consumers."
His statement is especially significant, since a letter the Obama administration sent to state insurance commissioners makes it clear that the fix is reliant upon insurance commissioners taking action and implementing the changes.
Washington state insurance commissioner Mark Kreidler also released a statement saying that he does not believe Obama's proposal is a "good deal." He said that the state would "stay the course" with regards to implementation of Obamacare.
"In the interest of keeping the consumer protections we have enacted and ensuring that we keep health insurance costs down for all consumers, we are staying the course," Kreidler said. "We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies. I believe this is in the best interest of the health insurance market in Washington."
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