Washington Insurance Commissioner Kreidler argues that the Washington Exchange is working and that allowing individuals to renew the poor coverage they now have would hurt reform. O.K., but what about all the small group coverage renewing? There’s no exchange for that unless you live in Southwest Washington.

Here’s a different approach to President Obama’s extension of the right to renew coverage. Compare the California Insurance Commissioner’s response for a contrasting style to Washington.

NEWS RELEASE

SACRAMENTO, CA – Taking immediate action in response to President Obama’s announcement, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today requested that all California health insurers and HMOs provide current customers the option to renew their existing non-grandfathered policies for 2014 and issue new notices to policyholder advising them of their options.

“The President’s action today makes it crystal clear that health insurers and HMOs are not required by federal law to cancel existing policies,” said Jones. “California has more than 1 million people with non-grandfathered policies facing cancellation; they should be given the opportunity to keep their existing coverage next year. I am calling on all health insurers in California to let their policyholders keep their existing coverage for an additional year if they want it.”

At a press conference in San Francisco, Jones further noted that health insurers in California are not cancelling their small business policyholders. They are allowing small businesses to renew their existing policies for another year although those policies don’t comply with the new 2014 requirement, but decided to cancel family and individuals plans.

Commissioner Jones also called on Covered California to release all health insurers selling in the Exchange from the Covered California contract provision that requires health insurers to cancel plans for individual policyholders on December 31, 2013.

“Over my objections, Covered California required health insurers participating in the Exchange to cancel all non-grandfathered individual policies on December 31,” said Jones. “Health insurers should not be required by Covered California to terminate policies. Today, I formally requested that Covered California release health insurers selling in the Exchange from the contract provision that requires them to cancel policies on December 31.”

Media notes:

• Over the last two weeks, Commissioner Jones persuaded the two largest health insurers regulated by the Department of Insurance, Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company and Blue Shield of California Life and Health Insurance Company, to delay the December 31 policy cancellations for hundreds of thousands of California consumers covered by individual and family (non-grandfathered) policies giving them more time to look for coverage that meets their needs.

In Washington, the Commissioner has ordered that even bona fide associations that qualify as large groups must tell all of its small employers that they must abandon their renewal date for a new plan to start at the same time for every other group in the association. Who needs law when you can simply make decisions.

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