Topic: Mike Kreidler
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December 3, 2013 at 7:00 PM
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.
November 20, 2013 at 4:05 PM
After President Obama last week announced that states would have the option of asking insurers to revive canceled health-insurance plans, Washington’s insurance commissioner immediately nixed the idea.
Commissioner Mike Kreidler explained his decision, saying Washington’s Healthplanfinder insurance exchange is working, and that allowing a bunch of people to re-up on plans deemed insufficient threatens the success of the new system.
The premise of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that nearly everyone has comprehensive insurance coverage through insurance plans or public programs, sharing the costs for medical care among the old and young, the healthy and ill. Kreidler had numerous questions and concerns about how changing the rules for insurance plans work work this late in the game.
So what did the rest of the nation do? The New York Times has a nifty graphic illustrating who’s doing what. It turns out seven other states have joined Washington’s thanks-but-no-thanks position, including New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Indiana, Rhode Island, Maryland and Minnesota. Those open to extending the plans include Oregon, Hawaii, Texas, Florida, Utah, Wyoming, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.
November 15, 2013 at 7:16 PM
Late Friday, interview requests were still pouring in for State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who turned down President Obama’s rule change to allow insurers to keep discontinued individual health insurance plans.
The old plans were discontinued by insurers because they didn’t include a variety of benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, or in other ways didn’t meet the standards of the federal law.
Calls came in all day, and there were plenty of questions on the “Ask Mike” feature on the commissioner’s website. Many were from people unhappy with Kreidler’s stand, but nobody threw rocks or picketed the office, said his spokeswoman, Stephanie Marquis, who was half-expecting something unpleasant. “We’re so polarized as a nation. It’s a little bit unnerving.”
What made people mad were those notices from insurers that their plans had been scrapped, she said. Some of the letters simply told people their plans would be replaced with a more expensive one, but didn’t let them know that taking that plan wasn’t their only choice, and that they might find a less expensive option on the Washington Healthplanfinder exchange site.
“I wish we could have required the companies to send a particular letter,” Marquis said. But Kreidler’s office doesn’t have the authority to do that, she noted.
Most people who had been in the individual market for some time might well believe that the replacement offered was their only choice. “In the past, you had to take that,” she said. “But now you don’t.”
After Kreidler made his announcement Thursday morning, news organizations lined up for interviews, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, local TV, radio and newspaper outlets, and, late on Friday, Al Jazeera America, she said.
Kreidler’s two cents, Marquis said, went roughly like this: “He understands the president was put in a very hard place. And of the bills before Congress, the proposal Obama made was the least egregious. But even that couldn’t be done without tremendous upheaval in (Washington’s) market. And even if they say ‘you can keep your plan,’ that doesn’t mean your rates don’t go up — just like they have every other year.”
The one call Kreidler didn’t get? President Obama.
“I was hoping the president would call and thank him,” Marquis said. “Why not? He’s standing up for the law!”
November 15, 2013 at 4:44 PM
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.
November 14, 2013 at 5:23 PM
President Obama came out with the surprising decision this morning to allow insurance companies to revive health plans that have already been canceled. But he left it up to state insurance commissioners to decide whether to resurrect these policies — which don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act — or continue as planned and encourage people to buy new coverage with a broader range of benefits.
Washington’s commissioner Mike Kreidler opted to stay the course, and he didn’t mince words in making his choice:
I understand that many people are upset by the notices they have recently received from their health plans and they may not need the new benefits today. But I have serious concerns about how President Obama’s proposal would be implemented and more significantly, its potential impact on the overall stability of our health insurance market.
In Washington state, most of the 290,000 people with individual policies already have received letters from their insurance companies telling them their plans are being canceled at the end of the year. These plans failed to meet all of the new health insurance requirements, including providing 10 “essential benefits” such as maternity care, prescription drugs and preventive care, and limiting out-of-pocket expenses at $6,350 per person.
All 90,181 people with insurance coverage from Regence BlueShield have learned their plans will be canceled, as did all 60,000 people covered by Group Health Cooperative. Some 77,000 people with LifeWise Health Plan, a subsidiary of Premera Blue Cross, also learned their plans were being scrapped.
October 22, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Seattle Children’s has filed an administrative action requesting that the state insurance office remove from the state exchange health insurance plans that don’t include the medical center in their networks.
The action, filed Tuesday, requests that the Office of the Insurance Commissioner remove the majority of plans from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Only two insurers, Group Health Cooperative and Community Health Plan of Washington, now include Children’s. The appeal seeks to remove Coordinated Care Corporation, Molina Healthcare of Washington, Premera Blue Cross, its subsdiary LifeWise, and BridgeSpan, a Regence subsidiary.
(Update, 2:30 p.m. Oct. 22: Seattle Children’s announced Tuesday afternoon that it has reached an agreement with Molina Healthcare of Washington and is now an in-network provider in the health plans Molina is offering through the state’s online insurance marketplace in 2014. Further details were not immediately available.)
The action comes less than a month after Children’s filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court on the same issue. Children’s, in a news release, said it is concerned “that the plans that exclude us don’t provide adequate coverage for kids,” because many of its services are unique and not available anywhere else in the state.
Children’s is also asking the community to directly lobby Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who is holding hearings today on his request to broaden his control over insurer network issues.
September 19, 2013 at 5:09 PM
The state Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) issued a consumer alert Thursday advising state residents who buy their own health insurance to know their options when choosing their next health plan.
The commissioner’s office issued the alert in response to dozens of phone calls and emails from consumers upset by letters from their insurance carriers explaining that their current health plan will be discontinued at the end of the year.
Insurance carriers are replacing their current individual health plans with new insurance products that include the essential health benefits and limits on cost-sharing required under the federal Affordable Care Act.
All of the carriers have sent customers a 90-day notice that their current plan will be discontinued. The letters also suggest a specific health plan –- one of the insurer’s other products –- as a replacement.
The letters sent by Regence Blue Shield and Group Health Cooperative also state that consumers can explore additional health-plan options available from other carriers and through the state’s new health-insurance exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder.
But the letters sent by Premera Blue Cross and its subsidiary LifeWise Health Plan of Washington do not mention these other options.
“Companies are required to give you notice if they’re replacing your plan,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said in a statement. “But, unfortunately, they may not include all of your options — including your right to pick a new plan from a different company, or buy through the new exchange, WAhealthplanfinder.org.”
The OIC is concerned that this omission may mislead consumers, said OIC spokesperson Stephanie Marquis.
The OIC had suggested to all of the carriers that they include information about Washington Healthplanfinder in their discontinuation letters. Only Premera and LifeWise did not do so, Marquis said.
The OIC offers a map of exchange plans by county and the plan rates on its website.
September 4, 2013 at 11:02 AM
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has reached a settlement with Molina Healthcare of Washington that grants approval for the insurer to sell two individual health plans through the state’s online health-insurance marketplace, known as Washington Healthplanfinder, in 2014.
Molina was one of five insurers Kreider had previously rejected for the exchange and one of four insurers to appeal that decision.
Kreidler’s approval of Molina’s two plans brings the total number of health plans to be sold through the exchange to 43. Molina’s two plans will be available in three counties: King, Pierce and Spokane.
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board still has to certify all of the approved health plans for the exchange. With the addition of Molina, seven insurers have been approved. The board is scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon and is expected to vote on certification.
The state faces a Thursday deadline of to submit information on all of its certified plans to the federal government.
August 30, 2013 at 12:24 PM
UPDATED 1:21 p.m. |
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced Friday that he has reached a settlement with two insurance carriers his office had earlier rejected for the state’s new online insurance marketplace.
Kreidler said the settlement with Community Health Plan of Washington and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest would add 10 more health plans to the individual insurance market that will be offered through the exchange, called the Washington Healthplanfinder.
Community Health would offer three health plans in 26 counties when Healthplanfinder opens for enrollment Oct. 1. Kaiser would have seven plans available in Clark and Cowlitz counties.
The 10 plans from the two carriers would bring the total number under the exchange to 41. The Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) had earlier approved 31 plans from four other carriers.
While settling with the two carriers Friday, the OIC also announced it decided not to settle with Coordinated Care Corp., whose health plans also had been rejected.
Coordinated Care had too many serious issues that prevented it from meeting state and federal criteria, Kreidler said.
A fourth rejected carrier, Molina Healthcare of Washington, filed an appeal this month, then dropped it. The carrier refiled the appeal Thursday night, according to the OIC.
All plans approved by the OIC must be certified by the board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, the agency that administers the exchange. The board is scheduled to meet Wednesday.
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