State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s swift rejection Thursday of President Barack Obama’s proposed “fix” for canceled health-insurance policies was featured prominently in a heated exchange between a reporter and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney during Friday’s White House press briefing.
ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl began his question this way: “Jay, we’ve already heard from three state insurance commissioners that say the president’s plan simply is not workable. What’s that going to do for people in those states – Washington state, Arkansas, Vermont? All those insurance commissioners said this just won’t work, they’re not going to do it.”
Carney shot back: “Well, Jon, I can also cite Kentucky, Florida and California – which, collectively, I think, have higher populations – states that have announced they will allow insurers to renew their plans under this policy, and the fact is….”
Karl interjected, “So you’re okay with those states that don’t….?”
Carney: “Well, Jon, what you are identifying is the insurance world that we live in in the United States, which is a world in which state insurance commissioners obviously have a great deal of authority about how insurance is, uh, marketed and sold in their state. So we are going to work with states.”
Karl followed up, “So what do you say to Bill Fullner, he’s a guy in Washington state whose insurance policy was canceled? He was out of luck, took great hope in what the president said, and then a few hours later finds out that it’s not going to apply to him because the insurance commissioner says the plan’s not workable.”
Carney: “Well, Jon, I would say as the president said yesterday, he wants to continue to work with lawmakers of both parties who are engaged in a good-faith effort to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act and even to address this particular issue.”
Karl interrupted: “He’s losing his insurance policy at the end of the year and is faced now with an insurance premium that is twice as expensive….”
Carney: “Well, as has always been the case, when you throw out an individual at me, I don’t have the capacity…”
Karl: “It would apply to everyone who received cancellation notices in Washington state.”
Carney: What you just cited about the premium wouldn’t necessarily apply to every individual. The fact of the matter is, and these cases aren’t usually brought into the briefing room here, that more than half of people who get insurance…”
Carney: “Oh, absolutely, and I think you heard the president here at length talk about his concern for those people and that is why he is making this fix and why he’s going to work every day to do what he can and then to work with Congress so they can do what they can to make the Affordable Care Act implementation go more smoothly and work effectively for the American people.”
Several reporters asked questions about the troubled implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the president’s latest proposal, during the press briefing.