Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) is calling on Oregon Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali to implement an administrative fix to halt health insurance policy cancellations related to the implementation of Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards. President Obama today announced that he is granting states the authority to allow existing plans to temporarily continue.
"Oregon's Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali should take immediate action to allow insurance companies to extend existing health insurance plans into 2014. Cover Oregon is presently unable to enroll individuals through its website. Although Cover Oregon is accepting paper applications, many Oregonians are having difficulty understanding their options and enrolling. Oregonians should not be denied access to plans they already hold when there are impediments to obtaining new plans. The President agrees and has granted states additional latitude.
"If Oregon implements this administrative change insurance companies will need to inform consumers that they may be giving up protections required by the Affordable Care Act. Insurers would also be required to inform policyholders that alternative plans are available and tax credits may be available through the health care exchange.
"Although CoverOregon.com is not presently working for enrollment, those who wish to enroll now can submit paper applications and get help by calling Cover Oregon's hotline at 1-855-268-3767. Constituents of the 1st Congressional District can also call my office at 503-469-6010 for assistance.
"I strongly encourage Oregon to implement this change, but I also recognize that we must continue to work to ensure that all Oregonians are covered by plans that include the basic consumer protections set out in the ACA as soon as possible. The ACA prevents insurers from discriminating based on gender or preexisting condition, prohibits lifetime limits on coverage, forbids denying payment for essential coverage, and bans companies from dropping coverage when someone gets sick and needs it most. These important changes are some of the most popular provisions of the ACA, but they cannot be fully realized if new plans that meet these higher standards are difficult to access.
"Although I am extremely frustrated about the failures of CoverOregon.com and HealthCare.gov, we must keep the focus on our ultimate goal: affordable, high-quality insurance that is available to every Oregonian and every American. Eventually these websites will work and millions of Americans will benefit. For the time being, it's important that we offer reasonable flexibility whenever possible."