Obama admin looking at extending “administrative fix” for noncompliant individual plans — for three years?
posted at 4:21 pm on February 6, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
Last November was a particularly — ahem — messy time for President Obama’s crowning legislative achievement. The rollout of the law’s federal exchange website was showcasing newly-plumbed depths of big-government incompetence and obfuscation while millions of insurees in the individual market were balking at notices informing them that their not-comprehensive/expensive-enough healthcare plans were getting cancelled in order to comply with the new standards that ObamaCare had laid down for their guidance. The president’s very own Democrats were desperately floating legislation to enforce the oft-repeated “If you like your plan, you can keep it”-promise that was soon after deemed “The Lie of the Year,” but rather than bother with messy legislation, the Obama administration followed their unilateral employer-mandate delay with an “administrative fix” for these individual plans that would allow insurers to un-cancel cancelled plans for another year.
They hoped that would calm things down for awhile and at least temporarily cushion the spreading revelation that forcing insurees off of inexpensive plans is in fact a feature and not a bug of the law, but that means that a lot of those same uncomfortable conversations are going to be coming due right about the time of the midterms this fall.
Heck, they did it once already — why not extend the “fix” through 2016, really? So what if the decision plagues the already-tottering system with insurance plans that don’t pull their redistributive weight? That’s what risk corridors are for! Via the AP:
The Obama administration is considering an extension of the president’s decision to let people keep their individual insurance policies even if they are not compliant with the health care overhaul, according to two top industry officials.
Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson said Thursday that the administration may let policyholders keep that coverage for an additional three years, stressing that no decision has been made. Policymakers are waiting to see what rate hikes health insurers plan for the insurance exchanges that are key to the overhaul’s coverage expansions.
“The administration is entertaining a range of options to ensure that this individual market has stability to it and that would be one thing that they could do,” he said. …
Aetna Inc. Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini also told analysts during a conference call to discuss quarterly earnings that he had heard the plans may be extended. Aetna is the nation’s third-largest health insurer.
Aetna Chief Financial Officer Shawn Guertin said in an interview after the call that there have been discussions about whether the plans should be extended again, but he didn’t have any more details.
Chris Matthews has a point, ya’ll. Honestly, I really just don’t see how anybody could construe labeling President Obama with “lawlessness” as anything but “second-term birtherism.”
And if worst does come to worst, like I said — they’ve always got risk-corridors! Via Scott Gottlieb at Forbes:
Humana announced that it expects to tap the three risk adjustment mechanisms in ObamaCare for between $250 and $450 million in 2014. This amounts to about 25 percent of the insurer’s expected exchange revenue. This money is needed to offset losses that the insurer will take as a result of slower enrollment in its ObamaCare plans, and a skewed risk pool that weighs more heavily toward older and less healthy members than it originally budgeted. …
The company blamed the Obama Administration’s decision late last year to extend grandfathering of individual market plans for the overall deterioration in the risk pool. That means that Humana (like other insurers) was counting on people from the individual market being forced to transition into ObamaCare plans. It’s widely perceived that the Obama Administration counted on that migration as well. But Humana’s statement was a very clear expression of this expectation.