California Will Not Extend Canceled Health Policies

Nov 22, 2013
Originally published on November 22, 2013 5:45 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

When Obamacare took affect, there was an outcry from politicians and consumers. Some people had their insurance cancelled, forcing them to more expensive plans. Trying to make good on his original promise that people who like their plans can stick with them, President Obama encouraged states to extend insurance plans that had been cancelled under the new law. But California marketplace officials rejected the president's offer, arguing that their exchange offers plans with better services, and some consumers are willing to pay more for them. The decision came in a unanimous vote last night from a state oversight board that essentially argued the roll out in California has been a success, so why mess with a good thing.

Sarah Varney reports.

SARAH VARNEY, BYLINE: The board's decision had been widely anticipated, but there was an audible sigh of relief by consumer advocates and insurance company representatives when the vote became clear.

Anthony Wright is executive director of the consumer advocacy group Health Access.

ANTHONY WRIGHT: The people who are affected by these rate increases are less than one percent of California. In California, that's still a big number - a couple hundred thousand people - but you don't want to lose the momentum for the millions and millions of people who could get benefits.

VARNEY: The board voted to give consumers an additional 10 days, until December 23rd, to sign up for new coverage. And starting Monday, consumers with cancelled policies will have a special hot line staffed by experts to try to ease the transition.

Not everyone applauded the vote. California's Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who has no authority over the exchange, said he was disappointed in the board's decision.

For NPR News, I'm Sarah Varney in Sacramento.

GREENE: Sarah Varney is with Kaiser Health News, a non profit news service. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.