White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) the “insurance protection lobby” Monday during a press briefing.

Gibbs was responding to a reporter’s question about some health insurers’ decisions to stop selling stand-alone child health coverage.

A provision in the Affordable Care Act, the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will prohibit carriers from using pre-existing health conditions as a reason to refuse to sell coverage to children during plan or policy years beginning on or after Thursday.

The Los Angeles Times published an estimate Monday that withdrawals of child-only health coverage could affect about 500,000 children.

“I think it’s obviously very unfortunate that insurance companies continue to make decisions on the backs of children and families that need their help,” Gibbs said, according to a transcript of the briefing provided by the White House. “The insurance protection lobby, AHIP, had previously stated their willingness to abide by the law and not make the decision that we see several of these insurers made.”

Obama administration officials are disappointed with the decisions the carriers announcing the withdrawals are making, but officials believe the benefits of new Affordable Care Act protections will outweigh the problems caused by the withdrawals, Gibbs said.

A reporter then asked whether Gibbs had really called AHIP the “insurance protection lobby.”

“I don’t know what AHIP stands for, but some reason, ‘P’ in my mind popped into protection,” Gibbs said. “But it seems to fit, doesn’t it?”

-ab