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Sandy Praeger declines invitation to meet with President Obama

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger

The head of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and two members met today with President Obama to discuss the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, a moderate Republican who has generally supported the law, was invited but chose not to attend. NAIC President Jim Donelon, Connecticut’s insurance commissioner, organized the meeting.

Praeger said she wasn’t trying to distance herself from the controversy surrounding the law’s problem-plagued rollout.

But she said the meeting was “premature” because the NAIC had not worked with its members to develop consensus on how to address remaining problems with the law’s implementation.

“It’s a huge honor to be invited to the White House,” Praeger told KHI News Service. “But I want to make sure that we use the president’s time wisely and that we are really able to have some constructive and meaningful dialogue.”
Praeger said the NAIC typically has been a “consensus organization.”

“As a past president of this organization, I think we have a real responsibility to communicate with the leadership and make sure that when we have a meeting that it’s not just representing a single point of view, but it’s representing a consensus point of view that’s been arrived at through a vetting process,” she said.

In a joint email sent to their counterparts late Tuesday, Praeger and other commissioners who decided not to attend the meeting said they had “serious reservations about both the process and the policy issues surrounding such an important meeting.”

Adam Hamm, the Republican insurance commissioner from North Dakota, gave similar reasons for skipping the meeting in a statement to the New York Times.

“Because the topic for the meeting (Affordable Care Act) is so delicate and potentially divisive among the nation’s insurance commissioners, a meaningful discussion between all the commissioners needs to take place before a meeting with the president,” said Hamm, who like Praeger is a former president of NAIC. “Unfortunately, that did not happen so I had to respectfully decline to participate in today’s meeting.”

Bob Hanson, a spokesperson for the insurance department, said Praeger also wanted to remain in the state so that she could continue to work with Kansas insurers attempting to comply with President Obama’s recent request that the companies allow customers to temporarily keep policies that don’t meet the ACA’s minimum coverage requirements.

“The Commissioner and her department personnel are in the middle of conferring with companies on how the president’s changes might be implemented,” Hanson said in an email. “Those business and regulatory discussions are keeping the commissioner here in Kansas to make sure any details are hammered out in the best interest of our citizens.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s largest health insurer, announced Tuesday that it would comply with the president’s request and work to reverse approximately 10,000 policy cancellations already in process, allowing policyholders to keep their nonconforming plans another year.

“This governmental change will allow many of our members to keep the benefit plan they already have and like, while still allowing them to consider new plans that they may be able to purchase with the help of a tax subsidy or small business tax credit,” the company said in a news release.

Praeger said reversing the cancellations likely would be costly to BCBS-KS and other insurers and could lead to premium increases. The main reason, she said, was that companies had based their rates on the assumption that many young, healthy people who had nonconforming policies would purchase more comprehensive plans thereby broadening the insurance pool. If significant numbers of those people decide to hang on to their current plans, the mix of policyholders enrolled in more comprehensive plans will be older and less healthy, Praeger said.

“If you’re going to let these healthier folks stay out of the mix for another year, there’s going to be a (cost) impact,” she said.   –By Jim McLean, KHI News Service

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  • BeyondFrustrated

    This would be a non-issue had he kept his word and let these +-10,000 families keep their current plans. Now to reissue all 10,000 policies………..no quick or easy task.

    • Chief59

      I agree that the administration made a huge mistake saying what they did, but insurance companies are dropping the plans because they don’t comply. That means the plans were terrible, or in some instances, insurance companies made changes to the plans in order to be able to have an excuse to drop when the ACA requirements kicked in. Why does everyone always act like insurance companies are so nice and friendly? Health insurance companies are some of the more evil businesses out there. Having rules for them should be thought of as a good thing.

      • BeyondFrustrated

        I just don’t feel like all these people who were carrying insurance should have been the focus. They had plans; plans they clearly felt were adequate for themselves and family members. Who is he to say what coverage I, or you, or my neighbor down the street should carry if we already have plans that works for us? I feel the focus should have been on those that are uninsured. Get them some much needed coverage. BHO clearly jumped the gun here. Tried to implement something that was no where near ready and now everyone is scrambling to undo the mess he created.

        • Chief59

          Focus should be on the people who are not covered. All of the people who don’t get coverage due to our Governor declining additional Medicaid funds, for example. This change to minimum requirements for insurance affects less than 5% of current insurance holders, but that’s all anyone can talk about. What about the millions being blocked from getting much needed coverage due to certain governors declining to help them?

          • BeyondFrustrated

            Tell one of those 5% that their issues aren’t as important. It’s all relative to what you are experiencing. I believe it’s a much bigger deal to tell someone that had coverage that they no longer have insurance than to tell someone who is without that they are still without. As I said from the beginning, I do feel the focus should have been to get the uninsured some much needed basic coverage.

          • Chief59

            I never said it wasn’t a big deal. You are putting words in my mouth. Of those 5%, a very good percentage of them are now able to get better coverage for the same or less than they were paying. Also, a certain amount will see their rates higher than before, although still for better coverage.

          • BeyondFrustrated

            I still feel like you’re trying to down play +-10,000 people being canceled from their current policies all because someone much more powerful than they has decided that’s what is best for them. Don’t you believe at all that a vast majority of these people are competent in choosing and maintaining their own health insurance?

          • Chief59

            Are you being serious? You feel like I’m downplaying +- 10,000 people who a large percentage of will most likely SAVE MONEY or get a better plan for the same money? I agreed that several of those affected will pay more, but not all, or even a majority. YOU are downplaying MILLIONS of people who are being denied any sort of coverage AT ALL. This is EXACTLY what I was talking about when I said focus should be on those being denied coverage, instead of the ones who are being required to change insurance plans, most of whom are not going to be adversely affected. Do you not realize that ever since insurance companies came to be, they cancelled people EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR NO REASON AT ALL? Insurance companies are about as despicable as they come, but you are defending them and scolding those who want to try and hold them to some accountability. It’s not about power, it’s about trying to protect the people of this country, which is pretty damn high on the to-do list for all Presidents. I wonder how people that think as you do can sleep at night.

          • passin_threw

            nobody is being denied coverage. they simply refuse to pay for the coverage. insurance is a business bud

          • BeyondFrustrated

            Let’s try this again……….I thought I was clear in my comments, but I’ll dumb it down for you here:
            1. leave those with health insurance alone as we are capable of managing our own healthcare
            2. get those without insurance some basic coverage. People should not have to suffer through an illness because they can’t afford to see a doctor
            3. I sleep just fine, but if there ever comes a time that I don’t, I’ll go see my doctor. My insurance will cover both the visit and the prescription barring we don’t get canceled first.
            4. you clearly have a chip on your shoulder and think you know better than everyone else. I’d see if the Obama camp is hiring………..

          • passin_threw

            chief, you and i are good friends, so i know friend to friend you will be honest with me. are you really trying to blame this fiasco on brownback? do you not see a problem with the fact they rolled out a plan that was only half done?

          • Chief59

            Absolutely not. As much as I have supported the ACA, the rollout has been embarrassing. However, that fits not mean it cannot work if everyone would actually try to make it work, as opposed to sabotage. The President and his administration have not done a good job at all, and the lack of cooperation makes it even worse

          • passin_threw

            why would anyone that is happy with their coverage, like i am, have to try to make it work? my current coverage “works” for me. it’s a disaster, throw dirt on it and bury it

          • Chief59

            You know that’s not what I’m saying. I’m talking about Congress and the rest of the politicians. You want to kill the ACA? So what is your plan to replace it? Are you planning on kicking everyone off of the insurance and Medicaid they are now going to receive?

          • passin_threw

            so why have you democrats stopped calling it obamacare?

          • Chief59

            I have always called it the ACA, only occasionally calling it Obamacare. I found it disrespectful. However, I liked that the administration owned up to the negative connotation and made it their own. I still see it being called Obamacare everywhere I look, so not quite sure what you are seeing.

          • passin_threw

            for a long time many democrats smugly called it obamacare, our president would do it with such a smirk on his face as a way of poking fun at his opponents. but lately, they refuse to call it obamacare. even pelosi was recently interviewed and claimed she had never referred to it as obamacare. yet another lie on her part. i was just looking for your take on that. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXRm0yVyn7k

          • Chief59

            Sounds about right for our politicians. I’ve always said they all suck. I just happen to think certain ones suck a little more than others. At the end of the day, they’re all still nothing but slimy politicians.

        • BeyondFrustrated

          And I should note that this isn’t coming from an angry, recently canceled insured. My family policy hasn’t been canceled, and most likely won’t be. We are on a grandfathered plan from BCBS. They don’t write our plan any longer- it’s that good. I just feel bad for those going through this whole ordeal. I have friends that have been canceled and see the anguish and frustration this whole ordeal is causing. They were completely content with the policies they had and had no intention of ever changing them. If they needed more coverage, they would have purchased it on their own free will.

          • Chief59

            “If they needed more coverage, they would have purchased it on their own free will.”

            There lies the problem with your argument. Until the ACA, if a health issue arose where someone needed more coverage, they would be denied as having a pre-existing condition. Even worse, many people who developed issues eventually were dropped, as insurance companies deemed them too expensive to keep on.

  • Dott

    If the president were really concerned about the botched health care. He would deal with GOP instead of always threatening veto. He has not kept his word on anything. He spins his stories to make him look good. Mr president actions speak louder than words.

    • Chief59

      You mean the same GOP who shut down the government because they didn’t like the ACA? Yeah, sounds reasonable.

      • A_citizen_patriot

        Yeah and now the dems pulled the nuclear option. Seems all politicans are trash.

        • Chief59

          Almost all politicians are trash. While I don’t agree with the “nuclear option”, I also don’t agree with a certain party denying nearly every single appointee based solely on the fact they don’t like the guy appointing them. The filibuster is out of control, so something had to be done. Doesn’t make it the right option, but it was one of the only ones available.

          • A_citizen_patriot

            They said they were going to filibuster all his nominations until they were allowed to speak to the bengazi survivors.

          • Chief59

            They filibustered everything BEFORE the Benghazi incident even took place. That argument doesn’t hold water. More filibusters have taken place in Obama’s five years in office than under every former President combined. The nuclear option will not fix the problem, but it does help. Unfortunately, if Republicans ever come back to power, this will bite Democrats in the @$$.

          • A_citizen_patriot

            I dont believe that is completely accurate. Unfortunatly I can remember who it was or find the article about it, but they threated to filibuster the nomination but didnt.

          • A_citizen_patriot

            Yes I know that they have filibustered more times with obama then any other president, but Obama has also been very unwilling to compromise. Not to mention if harry reid dosent like some, he simply wont let it go to the floor.

          • Chief59

            “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” – Mitch McConnell, October 23, 2010

            That doesn’t sound very compromising. Yes, McConnell was talking about the mid-term elections in that quote, but it still rings true. Many in the House and Senate would rather see good policy fail or not even become policy, if it comes at the price of making the President look good. Our government is supposed to be based on checks and balances, not not a plan of saying NO to everything the opposing party brings up. This is true for both parties.

          • passin_threw

            much like pelosi you only mention the parts that you deem helpful. in the same interview not 1 minute later mcconnell also stated….. I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change. So, we’ll see. The next move is going to be up to him.

          • Chief59

            Many stated they did want him to fail though. I did say that McConnell was speaking about the mid-term elections, and not the policies of the President, but the sentiment was the same. Republicans will do anything to stop any policy the President throws out there. He could find a way to eliminate all federal debt, cure cancer, eliminate homelessness, and solve world hunger, yet Republicans would still hate and go against everything he came up with. None of this has anything to do with policy anymore. It is simply dislike and even hatred.