President Obama on Wednesday met with state insurance regulators as the administration looks to win support for a plan to help millions of Americans who could lose their health coverage because of Obamacare.
“The president reiterated the administration’s commitment to working in close coordination with insurance commissioners who have a critical role to play in protecting consumers, ensuring plan solvency and promoting competitive health insurance markets,” said the White House in a statement after Obama’s meeting with representatives from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
The White House added that Obama “emphasized that he wants to hear any ideas that insurance commissioners may have as implementation continues to ensure that Americans across the country have the information they need to get affordable, quality coverage for themselves and their families.”
The meeting comes as the White House tries to manage the rocky rollout of the health care reform law. In addition to the botched healthcare.gov website, Obama was also forced to apologize for his broken promise that Americans who liked their health plans could keep them even under Obamacare. Millions of consumers though will be dropped by insurers as many current plans fail to meet the health law’s new requirements.
The administration has proposed a “fix” that would allow insurers to reinstate those plans for current enrollees for a year. Insurers though are not compelled to accept the fix. Many insurers and regulators have already criticized the plan, arguing that it would be difficult to implement and could raise premiums.
Obama also met last week with insurance industry executives to win their support.
“What we're going to be doing is brainstorming on how do we make sure that everybody understands what their options are,” Obama said.
“So I appreciate all these folks coming in. We're going to be soliciting ideas from them. There’s going to be a collaborative process. We want to make sure that we get this done,” he added.
The House passed a GOP bill last week that would let consumers keep their health plans even if they fail to meet Obamacare requirements. Red-state Democrats are also urging that more be done, with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., offering a similar proposal in the upper chamber.
The White House though is vowing to veto any legislative fix, arguing that the House GOP bill would allow insurers to continue to sell substandard plans.
Administration officials joining Obama at the meeting included Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz, Obama health care adviser Chris Jennings and White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler.
Also attending were former Sen. Ben Nelson, NAIC’s Chief Executive Officer; NAIC President Jim Donelon; North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin; and Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Thomas Leonardi.