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More states push for policy extensions

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Several state insurance commissioners have become outspoken supporters of efforts to let consumers keep in-force health insurance policies in place in 2014.

The commissioners in Hawaii and North Carolina have put out statements calling for carriers to extend existing policies that fail to meet Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act standards.

Gordon Ito, the Hawaii commissioner, said carriers can choose what they want to do.

But “we believe this will help to alleviate some of the concern and frustration over non-renewals,” Ito said.

In North Carolina, Wayne Goodwin said he’s asked his staff to do whatever’s necessary to make sure carriers can extend policies for another year.

Goodwin is setting up a quick review process to help carriers set rates for any policies they hope to extend.

Laura Cali, the Oregon commissioner, put out a more neutral statement saying she’ll give carriers in the state the option of extending pre-PPACA individual and small-group plans another year.

Carriers can extend policies, but “the new plans offered in 2014 offer more benefits and financial protections,” Cali said.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones pushed the policy extension issue into the spotlight earlier this month, by announcing moves to get two carriers to extend individual policies they had been planning to cancel. Jones said he had no direct authority to require extensions. He prompted the carriers to continue the policies by strictly enforcing state policy change notice requirements.

The Obama administration then took up the flag Thursday, by announcing that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would “not find insurers out of compliance” with PPACA if they let non-PPACA-compliant policies stay in force in 2014.

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