Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who refused President Obama’s offer to let people keep discontinued health plans, will testify before the U.S. House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee early Wednesday morning about how the Affordable Care Act is working in Washington.
Kreidler was invited to testify by Rep. Jim McDermott, a Democrat from Seattle, who serves as the ranking member on the subcommittee.
Kreidler, a Democrat, may face some uncomfortable questions from some subcommittee members, some of whom are hearing from disgruntled constituents whose insurance plans were pulled because they didn’t meet the ACA’s requirements.
The New York Times noted a “fresh wave of legal challenges” to the law, as well as a hearing to be held by the House Judiciary Committee to examine whether President Barack Obama is properly using his executive powers to alter provisions of the law. The committee also will examine the theory behind the lawsuits — that tax credits or subsidies cannot be granted to people who purchase insurance through the federal exchange.
Washington is among a minority of states with its own state exchange.
About two-thirds of the 290,000 Washington residents who currently buy individual insurance plans were covered by “catastrophic” policies with limited benefits, the state insurance office says. Most of them learned this fall that their policies were being discontinued.
The discontinued plans likely insure healthier people, since insurers formerly could reject people with health problems. Kreidler, and insurers generally, said that allowing the discontinued policies to continue — and to keep those policyholders out of the marketplace — could disrupt the stability of the market, since insurers carefully priced plans based on projections of the health of their enrollees, among other things.
In addition, letting people keep “bare bones” plans, Kreidler said, was not in keeping with the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act, which mandated coverage of such areas as prescription drugs and maternity care.
The hearing, at 7 a.m. PST, will be streamed live; to watch, click here.