Nevadans with canceled policies in limbo
Nearly 25,000 Nevadans who received health insurance cancellation notices were still awaiting word Tuesday from the state insurance commissioner and Gov. Brian Sandoval on whether they can keep their plans for another year.
After intense pressure last week, President Barack Obama announced changes to his signature health reform effort, saying consumers could keep plans for another year that otherwise don’t meet requirements of the new law.
But the president left the final decision up to states, leaving Nevada and many others trying to figure out whether extending canceled policies is even doable.
“The Nevada Division of Insurance continues to evaluate the president’s proposal in order to ensure that any action taken in Nevada complies with the law,” division spokesman Jake Sunderland said in an email.
Maryland’s insurance commissioner said Tuesday that individual policies that don’t comply with the federal health care overhaul can be extended through the end of 2014 if the renewals take effect before Jan. 1.
Health insurance providers in Oregon have until Friday to decide if they will restore any of the policies set to be canceled. Other states, including Massachusetts, have said no, while insurers in New York said resurrecting canceled policies would be a logistical nightmare.
That is the big hurdle to extending policies in Nevada, said state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno.
“I think the logistics of getting it done are nearly impossible,” Kieckhefer said Tuesday. “The plans no longer exist. So it’s impossible to just go out and say they exist and they still have to be offered.”
Insurance carriers negotiate with doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other medical facilities for agreed-upon rates way in advance of the new year. With just weeks just six weeks left, renegotiating those contracts would be a Herculean undertaking.
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., urged Sandoval, a first-term Republican, to decide quickly.
“It is important for these families to know as soon as possible what their options will be for the coming year,” Titus wrote in a letter to Sandoval.
State Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, is an attorney who represented Nevada for free in a multi-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law in 2010.
Hutchison, now a candidate for lieutenant governor, echoed earlier remarks by Sandoval, saying the law should be scrapped.
Even if cancellations get a one-year reprieve, “we’re still going to have, at the end of the day, insurance mandates Nevadans don’t want to buy at prices they don’t want to pay,” Hutchison said.
“The president and Congress need to scrap this law, start all over again,” he said.