Holidays in a federal city that doesn't always follow the path to the White House (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

The Washington D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) announced that it will not permit carriers to continue renewing non-Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)-compliant health plans for policy years starting between Jan. 1 and Oct. 1, 2014. 

It joins other jurisdictions, namely the large or marquee Demcratic states of New York, Massachusetts and California, to reject the Administration’s one-year extension for health care policies that do not meet PPACA standards in the face of outcries over policy cancellations

It made its decision after a review of many elements of the health marketplace, and concluded that the future premium rate impact of the transitional policy would be higher for D.C. residents than continuing implementation as intended.

“The department carefully considered all factors involved in this decision — District residents, the industry and the unique characteristics of our market — and concluded that there are greater benefits to continuing the District’s Affordable Care Act implementation efforts as planned,” stated  Chester A. McPherson, interim DISB commissioner. “The department believes this approach provides more certainty for residents and carriers by subjecting all health plans to the same standard as outlined in the law.”

The softer-worded and more time-ripened rejection of President Obama’s decision to delay enforcement of adhesion to the Essential Health Benefits to allow more people to keep their current, substandard plans comes a little more than a week after the former commissioner William White raised questions about the effect of an extension on the city’s own health care exchange.

White’s announcement in a press release dated the same day Obama announced the policy change — when other insurance departments also reacted — resulted in his ousting by the Mayor’s office. White put out his DISB-endorsed statement too hastily, without approval from the Mayor’s office, as is usually done with sensitive items, although he says he was calling into question the course of action being suggested to the state insurance commissioners by Obama because of its potential impact on the District marketplace and its residents. White made his comments on the situation anew in an open letter to the captive industry association.

White’s Nov. 14 statement, which he also attached to his open letter, indicating he stands by it, noted that the Obama extension of one year for non-compliant EHB policies “undercuts the purpose of the exchanges, including the District’s DC Health Link, by creating exceptions that make it more difficult for them to operate.

The DISB said it wanted to ensure that District residents have comprehensive coverage to meet their health care needs. 

The DISB, in making its decision, received input from the District’s Health Benefit Exchange Authority, carriers operating in our market, public interest organizations and District residents.