The Obama administration is preparing to announce that Americans who want to keep their old health plans may do so for at least one year longer than they expected, even if the policies don’t comply with law, according to insurance industry officials familiar with the latest rewrite of federal health-care rules.
The decision has become an open secret in insurance and health policy circles. And it marks the second time in four months that administration officials have adjusted their rules about health plans that do not include benefits required by the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Last fall, a few million consumers discovered that their noncompliant policies were about to be canceled. A political furor erupted, with accusations that President Obama had broken his promise that people could keep their current insurance.
Obama relented in November, giving states latitude to allow policies to be sold through October, regardless of whether they contain all the benefits required by the law. About half the states have agreed to allow this.
Now, in a step that insurers believe is imminent, Obama’s health-care aides will announce that these old policies may continue longer — perhaps one to three more years.
As word of the second extension circulated, White House aides and Health and Human Services Department officials declined to confirm it. HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters pointed out that when the president announced the first extension, health officials had said they would consider further extending the ability to renew old plans beyond this year.
Peters said in a statement: “The Administration has committed to doing all we can to smooth the transition for hard-working Americans. We’ve taken steps already and are continuing to look at options.”
Congressional Republicans who have been trying to derail the law did not wait for the administration’s announcement to begin their criticism. “Another day, another delay,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.) said, adding that “unilateral delays and administrative changes to the . . . law have become commonplace.”
Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report, which originally appeared in The Washington Post.
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