August 29, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Panel again delays vote on health-exchange insurance plans
From Amy Snow Landa
Special to The Seattle Times
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board has decided again to delay certification of health plans to be offered through the state’s new online health insurance marketplace for 2014.
The board convened for a special meeting Thursday to continue its discussion on certifying plans, having voted at its Aug. 21 meeting to delay a formal vote on certification to give more health plans an opportunity to make their case for being included in the exchange.
At Thursday’s meeting, a motion to further postpone the vote was made by board member Teresa Mosqueda, legislative and policy director for the Washington State Labor Council and chair of the Healthy Washington Coalition.
“We don’t need to rush a vote today,” Mosqueda told fellow board members.
Mosqueda warned that if the board proceeded with certification now, some board members might decide to vote against certifying health plans already approved by the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) because they believe that plans rejected by the OIC have not been given a full hearing.
The board approved her motion 6-2. Voting against the motion were Melanie Curtice, a partner at the law firm Stoel Rives, and Doug Conrad, professor of health services at the University of Washington School of Public Health.
Curtice urged the board not to delay. “We have an obligation to move this forward in a way that supports the staff and the issuers that have made it through the approval process,” she said.
Board member Phil Dyer, senior vice president at Kibble & Prentice/USI, said he had come prepared OK the health plans the OIC had approved, but changed his mind after hearing testimony from representatives of two carriers whose plans the OIC rejected.
Bela Biro, president of Molina Healthcare of Washington, one of the rejected carriers, said his company was doing everything it could to get its plans approved for the exchange.
Molina had filed a formal appeal earlier this month but withdrew it, believing that an active appeal would prevent the company from engaging in discussions with the OIC, Biro said.
However, Biro acknowledged that Molina has not made much progress with the OIC anyway.
Three other rejected carriers are pursuing appeals. Coordinated Care and Community of Health Plan of Washington have hearings this week. The hearing for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest began Thursday and will continue Tuesday.
The exchange board has scheduled its next meeting for Wednesday.
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