After President Obama announced his plan to solve the Affordable Care Act's cancelled policy problem, state insurance commissioners immediately began weighing in on whether they would permit insurers to continue offering plans that don't meet the standards of the health care law. The states are split, and not by party lines: so far Washington, Arkansas, and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners have declined, while California, Florida, and Kentucky have said they're all for it. Minnesota is a maybe. Whereas insurance companies are motivated by profits and Congressional Republicans are motivated by politics, state insurance regulators are motivated by policy.
Washington state, a Democratic stronghold that enrolled 7,000 people through its state-run exchange last month, was one of the first to explicitly say they would not allow insurers to un-cancel plans. Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who Sarah Kliff at The Washington Post describes as "one of the most liberal regulators," has decided to "stay the course." In a statement released this afternoon, he said (emphasis added):
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.
I do not believe his proposal is a good deal for the state of Washington. In the interest of keeping the consumer protections we have enacted and ensuring that we keep health insurance costs down for all consumers, we are staying the course. We will not be allowing insurance companies to extend their policies. I believe this is in the best interest of the health insurance market in Washington.
As Kliff notes, this is an attempt to not undermine Obamacare, even if it goes against what Obama asked for this morning. Arkansas' Democratic Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford has also passed on today's fix, though in his states most plans are already available through most of 2014.