Insurance Commissioner checking options - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Insurance Commissioner checking options

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West Virginia lawmakers have cosponsored a piece of legislation that could allow people to remain on their current health coverage a little longer.

President Barack Obama said Nov. 15 his administration would follow a "transitional" policy, permitting health insurers to choose to continue coverage that would otherwise be terminated or cancelled for affected individuals and small businesses. Plans going forward in 2014 would be closed to anyone not currently enrolled in any type of health coverage. The president's decision was signed to ease the impact on millions of consumers who have received cancellation notices in the past several weeks.

However, the West Virginia Office of the Insurance Commissioner said West Virginians who received possible termination through letters could be reinstated.

Jason Butcher, spokesman for the office of the state Insurance Commissioner, said they are currently crunching their numbers and looking at options.

"The thing everyone needs to remember was no one was cancelled," Butcher said. "There were notices of discontinuation which tells you (the) current product is no longer available when renewal comes up."

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has said the state would "comply with the law of the land."

During an interview on "The State Journal's Decision Makers," a weekend public affairs show, Tomblin said he would never ask the insurance commissioner to ask insurance companies to go back on something they have done.

After President Obama said people could have longer on their current policies, the insurance commissioner's office was backed up with duties, and Butcher said some of the letters already sent out could become obsolete.

The "Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013" was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Nov. 15. The bill would permit a health insurance issuer that has in effect health insurance coverage in the individual market as of Jan. 1, 2013, to continue offering such coverage for sale during 2014 outside of a health care exchange established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The act is cosponsored by two West Virginia lawmakers — Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va. and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.