The Office of the Insurance Commissioner announced yesterday that yet another Obamacare extension would again be denied for Washington citizens. Last November, the Obama administration first made the offer to extend non-compliant or canceled plans for one year, but left the decision up to individual state insurance commissioners and the health insurers. Washington’s commissioner, Mike Kreidler, declined the extensions for state residents.
Since Washington did not allow the first extension of these plans, the additional two-year extensions announced yesterday do not apply to Washington. Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, says that further underscores the importance of passing his bill to allow those who’ve found their plans canceled due to the commissioner’s decision to shop for similar plans no longer offered in Washington across state lines.
“We have people in our state that need help now, but are completely out of options since the insurance commissioner announced that the new extension applies only to those non-compliant or cancelled plans that were given extensions into 2014,” said O’Ban. “If my bill becomes law, those people could get on plans available in other states that are much like the ones they lost.”
O’Ban, who represents the 28th District, sponsored Senate Bill 6464 in answer to constituents’ complaints that Obamacare forced them off the insurance policies they liked, despite assurances by the administration that they would be allowed to keep those policies. The measure would allow Washington residents to buy catastrophic health-care plans in other states. Additionally, it would require the OIC to approve plans that do not meet the requirements of Obamacare for a period of one year. Also, health carriers could continue offering certain individual or small-group health plans outside of the health-care exchange, regardless of whether the plans meet the requirements of Obamacare.
SB 6464 passed the Senate 25-22 on Feb. 18 but has not yet received a hearing in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. O’Ban says though Kreidler stands by his decision to deny Washingtonians something that the Obama administration wanted to provide them, the commissioner must now realize the scope of his mistake. O’Ban adds he hopes no one in Washington has to suffer the ultimate price for it.
“When folks are contacting me, telling me stories of how they have to choose between making their mortgage payment or their health insurance payment that has skyrocketed since Obamacare, it’s a clear sign that something in government has failed,” O’Ban noted. “God forbid anyone puts off making a critical health-care decision because of the suddenly exorbitant cost. I know I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.”