Friday, November 15, 2013

KY and Obama Calliing Insurance Companies' Bluff

Now this is the kind of thing we expected from our poker-playing President.

From the Herald:

Gov. Steve Beshear directed the Kentucky Department of Insurance on Thursday to comply with President Barack Obama's edict that could allow some 280,000 Kentuckians to keep their current insurance policies, at least for another year.

Beshear said the decision ultimately will be left to insurance companies, many of which he said have already invested heavily into developing coverage plans that meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act and may not want to reverse course.


In Kentucky, about 130,000 people with individual insurance coverage face discontinuation of their policies in the months ahead, as do about 150,000 people with small group policies.
No mention of the fact that the vast majority of those individual and small group policies are shitty plans that lead directly to bankruptcy in the case of actual medical costs.

Also no mention of the fact that the President's edict cuts the legs out from under the repugs and cowardly dems in Congress who are trying to repeal Obamacare.

Ed Kilgore at Political Animal:
Since there’s been a lot of confusion about the impact of Fred Upton’s bill (due for a House vote Friday) to let insurers sell non-ACA-compliant individual policies under the rationale of “relief” to people freaking out over cancellations, here’s a succinct description from TNR’s ever-excellent Jonathan Cohn about why it could represent a catastrophe:
[T]he Upton bill doesn’t seek simply to leave existing policies in place for people who have them. It would also allow insurers to sell the policies to new customers. That goes way beyond grandfathering, because the cheaper, skimpier plans would siphon off the healthiest enrollees—and do so in perpetuity. This (probably) makes it worse than the (still objectionable) proposal Democrat Mary Landrieu has proposed in the Senate. If the Upton bill passed, Obamacare’s reforms of the market might become effectively meaningless. In short, the Upton bill is a not-thinly-disguised effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
That’s also the conclusion the anti-ACA writer James Capretta reaches at the Weekly Standard in calling the Upton bill “an escape from Obamacare, not a fix for the fatally flawed legislation.”

It’s possible, as Brian Beutler has suggested, that insurers might not take advantage of the Upton bill, minimizing its disruptive effect. It’s also possible state insurance regulators could thwart it. And were it to survive into a House-Senate conference committee, Democrats would almost certainly try to limit its scope to insurance renewals rather than new policy sales, which, again, would minimize its operation as a wholesale “escape from Obamacare” for the individual insurance market. But there’s no question the idea behind Upton is profoundly destructive even as it purports to be some sort of “relief” measure, and that’s why so many Republicans are embracing it.
And why President Obama cut them off at the pass.

Kevin Drum:
I think Obama's main goal here is to remove this handy excuse. He's basically daring insurers to go ahead and reissue the old policies. If they don't do it, it means that Obamacare was never really responsible for the cancellations in the first place. And if the insurers see that their bluff is being called and decide they don't want to take the PR hit, then the old policies get reissued and everyone is happy. It's a win-win for Obama.

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