Lindeen Slams President’s Decision to Allow Old Health Plans

By Beacon Staff

Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen released a statement following the announcement today by President Obama that insurance companies may choose to continue selling plans that would otherwise have been terminated or cancelled.

“The president and I agree on one thing: The rollout of the Obamacare website has been rocky. But far from smoothing over those bumps, his announcement today that health insurance issuers may choose to continue coverage that would otherwise be terminated or cancelled causes a lot of confusion for Montana’s insurance market.

For three years, Montana’s insurance companies and my office have been working to transition health care in this state to cover more Montanans, more fairly. This announcement throws everything on its head.

I am in the process of deciding what authority I have or I don’t have. I am also in conversations with Montana’s insurance companies to see how this announcement affects their business plans and Montana consumers.

This kind of confusion is precisely why I have always fought for keeping insurance regulation at the state level. We know our markets, our companies and our neighbors better than Washington, D.C. does.”

Montana Congressman Steve Daines, who has remained firmly opposed to health reform under the Affordable Care Act, also responded to the decision in an extensive statement.

“President Obama promised the American people that if ‘you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.’ But for tens of thousands of Montanans, his words are nothing more than a broken promise that has resulted in canceled insurance plans and rising health care costs.

“Today’s announcement does very little to resolve the President’s broken promise or provide hard-working Montana families with much-needed relief and protection from the President’s failed health care law. Over the past month, I’ve heard from hundreds of Montanans who are looking for relief from the consequences of President Obama’s health care law, and unfortunately, today’s proposal isn’t a long-term fix, nor does it address the core problems with this failed law.

“This isn’t a long-term fix for Dean and Summer, parents to an autistic son and a daughter with muscular dystrophy living in northwestern Montana, who will see their health care costs increased by $4,500 next year. This isn’t a long-term fix for Anne Marie in Miles City, whose family is facing an additional $3,000 per year in health care costs due to increased premiums and deductibles. This isn’t a long-term fix for Paula, a health care provider in Kalispell who is questioning the viability of her private practice and ability to continue providing care to many of her patients.

“Montanans deserve a permanent solution, not a short-term, politically-driven patch on this deeply flawed law. I will continue fighting to fully repeal President Obama’s failed health care law and working toward real solutions that protect Montanans’ access to their doctors and the health care plans they want.”

Some 212 people in Montana signed up for health insurance in the first month of the U.S. government-run online marketplace that has been plagued by technical problems, federal officials said Wednesday.

Problems with the website have prevented most people from completing applications or even registering with the site in some cases, and just 26,794 people from those states signed up for plans in the first month.

Along with website challenges, insurance companies have begun letting customers know about old plans being altered or cancelled. In Montana, an estimated 20,000 people have received such notices. Last week Obama asked his team to look at administrative fixes to help people whose plans are being canceled as a result of new federal coverage rules.

RELATED: Health Reform Off to Rocky Start

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