President Barack Obama today announced that Americans whose health care plans have been canceled because they fall short of Affordable Care Act standards have been granted a one-year reprieve. With the decision, state governors and insurance commissioners would have the authority to keep would-be canceled plans active until the end of 2014.
“The Affordable Care Act is going to work for the American people,” Obama said from the White House briefing room in remarks that opened with sympathy and support for the typhoon-ravaged Philippines. Obama acknowledged that his team “fumbled the roll-out of the health care law,” but he hopes that extending existing plans will help win “back the confidence of the American people.”
The decision, which helps live up to a promise Obama made when pushing for passage of health reform, is couched as an administrative fix that says following ACA will not require insurance companies to upgrade their plan for individuals who have been in these existing plans so far. In what the White House is calling “an extension of grandfathering principle” Americans should now all be able to re-enroll in their current coverage so long as it is still offered by their provider.
“Two important things we require from insurance companies,” says the administration, “one is they notify consumers what protections these renewed plans do not include. And two, they notify consumers that they will have new options available on the marketplace that offer better coverage, and tax credits are available for many people.”
Insurers and participants in the individual and small group markets will not be considered noncompliant in these plans next year. This is a policy “targeted and very targeted” to those individuals who are in those policies today, it is not allowing to be sold to people not in plans. IN other words, the policy change only applies to extant plans; all new plans must comply with Obamacare in full.
Next year is an election cycle for 33 senators and the entire House of Representatives. This move will widely be seen as trying to appease voters furious about having their plans canceled after pledges were repeatedly made that exactly that would not happen.
State authorities can still decide to consider plans non-compliant next year and insist insurers get up to speed.
Obama said that Healthcare.gov enrollment is “absolutely not” where he wants it to be, “but there’s no question that there’s great demand for high-quality health care,” and he urged health care consumers not to try to throw out the baby with the bathwater and return to the landscape circa 2009.
“It’s important that we pretend that that’s not a place worth going back to,” Obama said. “And that’s why I will not accept proposals that are just a brazen attempt to overturn the law and go back to a broken system.”
He added: "This fix won't solve every problem for every person but it will help a lot of people. Doing more will require work with Congress."
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