CT insurance commissioner says he’s not sold on Obama’s ‘fix’ to the ACA

Washington — Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi said late Wednesday that he’s not sold on President Obama’s “fix” to the Affordable Care Act that would allow insurers to renew policies that don’t comply with that law.

Leonardi was among a handful of state insurance regulators to meet with the president Wednesday, a meeting that a number of other state insurance commissioners declined to attend.

Obama issued an executive order last week in response to the furor over the cancellation of hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of individual health policies that would renew next year. But the president‘s executive order to allow the renewal of policies that are not ACA-compliant requires the approval of state insurance commissioners, who regulate the health insurance companies that sell policies in their states.

Leonardi said he’s concerned about the impact on premiums and the financial health of Connecticut’s health insurers.

“Every state is a different market,” he said.

Leonardi said that the president — during the 50 minute meeting in the Oval Office — wanted to hear about the commissioners’ concerns. ”He didn’t want to persuade us or stiff arm us,” he said.

Some state insurance commissioners have already rejected the president’s plan, including those in Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and  Washington. Insurance regulators in other states, including California, Florida and Texas, said they will comply.

But most state regulators are undecided, and many, like Leonardi, are unconvinced.

Wayne Goodwin, North Carolina’s insurance commissioner, attended the meeting with the president and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ President Jim Donelon, Louisiana’s insurance commissioner, organized the meeting.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, a moderate Republican who has generally supported the law, was invited but chose not to attend. Nor did Adam Hamm, the insurance commissioner of North Dakota.

“We had a great discussion, but there was a lot of difference of opinion about whether we can or should do what [Obama] asked last week,” Donelon said.

Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Obama has unnecessarily involved governors like him in the controversy over canceled policies with the new executive order. Malloy has authority over the state insurance department.

“They shifted their problem to me, and I don’t appreciate it,” Malloy said.

It’s unclear how many Connecticut policies have actually been canceled. Leonardi said that the figure he gave Monday of 27,000 canceled policies in the state was an estimate.

Mirror reporter Mark Pazniokas contributed to this story.

 

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