Obama, State Insurance Commissioners Talk Policy Extensions

Nov 21, 2013
Originally published on November 21, 2013 6:55 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. President Obama met yesterday with a group of state insurance regulators to discuss the troubled roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. State officials are weighing whether to allow insurance companies to reinstate some of the individual policies that were cancelled because they did not meet the act's standards. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: The states play a big role in regulating the health insurance market on their home turf and state insurance regulators have been in the thick of the debate over the Affordable Care Act. Last week President Obama said he would allow insurance companies to reinstate cancelled policies. The shift puts state officials in something of a dilemma because they have to approve health insurance premiums, and most states are still deciding how to respond.

Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donlin was among those who met with the president yesterday.

JIM DONLIN: We share his concern for the millions of policy holders who are going to lose coverage that they're happy with.

ZARROLI: Some states, including Florida and Texas, have said they'll allow cancelled policies to be renewed. But others, such as Massachusetts and Washington, are balking. They say they have already approved premiums for the upcoming year and revising them at the last minute would undermine the Affordable Care Act and make it harder to meet the act's deadlines. Wayne Goodwin is the insurance regulator in North Carolina.

WAYNE GOODWIN: Every state is different, every jurisdiction, the markets are different in those states, and what works in California may not work in Washington and vice versa.

ZARROLI: Some regulators have also complained that the White House announced last week's policy change without giving them any notice. And a handful of state officials declined to attend yesterday's meeting. They said the National Association of Insurance Commissioners should have tried to come up with a consensus about the policy shift before agreeing to meet with the president. Jim Zarroli, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.