Obama Health-Plan Promise is No-Go in Washington State – Kreidler Balks at Renewing Canceled Policies
OLYMPIA, Nov. 15.—President Barack Obama might be backtracking on the Affordable Care Act in the face of public furor, relenting on federal rules that turned the nationwide insurance market upside down and forced the cancellation of policies that covered millions of Americans – and insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler is having nothing to do with it. But the reason may not be as simple as you think.
Democrat Kreidler, perhaps Washington state’s single biggest cheerleader for Obamacare, says he’s staying the course not because he thinks health reform is a good idea and he is a true believer — he does and he is — but because the president’s new scheme just won’t work. So he says he won’t allow insurers to restore the health-insurance policies that are being canceled wholesale at the end of the year. Even the insurers Kreidler regulates acknowledge that it is too late to unring the bell. With just six weeks to go before new policies kick in on Jan. 1, there’s no time for a quick fix.
“I do not believe his proposal is a good deal for the state of Washington,” Kreidler said in a statement issued shortly after the president made his announcement Thursday. “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.”
Obama announced Thursday that he was issuing an executive order suspending for a year the rules that forced the revamping of the insurance market. The face-saving move was intended to quell public outrage over what appears to be a broken promise – his oft-repeated claim that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” It was clear from the start that it could not be so, as the Affordable Care Act prohibits low-cost, limited-benefit insurance policies; it was doubly clear when insurers across the country got down to the nitty-gritty detail work of devising new policies for 2014 that complied with the complicated rules imposed by the federal law.
The feds botched the job, Obama said at a Washington, D.C. news conference. “We fumbled on the rollout of this health care law,” he said. But he left the final decision to state insurance commissioners – meaning they get to take the heat. And as far as they are concerned, it is an empty promise.