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State still unsure whether insurers will opt to extend expiring policies under Obamacare

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State banking and insurance commissioner Kenneth Kobylowski says he is still unsure whether or not insurers will opt to extend coverage to those whose policies are subject to cancellation under the Affordable Care Act.

Kobylowski appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday afternoon to testify on the state’s decision to let insurers choose what to do with the policies.

Kobylowski said that it’s still too early to tell which way the companies will go.

“I think it’s entirely too soon to say how this will all shake out,” he said.

The fact is, it doesn’t seem to be playing out at all.

When asked by panel chair and state Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair) if any companies had announced their plans to extend the policies, Kobylowski repliled: “No one to my knowledge.”

Gill could only remark: “So at this point, even the consumer has no idea if they will be able to continue the insurance that they currently have.”

The state’s decision, which has the potential to affect roughly 800,000 New Jersey residents, came down last month after President Barack Obama asked states to consider granting a one-year extension for policies not in compliance with the law’s minimum requirements and thus, slated for cancellation.

Gov. Chris Christie defended the move in a press conference earlier this week.

Gill also pressed Kobylowski on his department’s plans for a $7.6 million federal grant awarded to the state for planning and implementation of the new law. She also made note that had the state opted to set up a state-based exchange - rather than just fall under the federal marketplace - more funding would have been available.

Gill also repeatedly said that she’d like to see the grant money go toward education and public outreach, asking the commissioner if it was possible.

Kobylowski said that his interpretation of the grant did not allow for such purposes, adding that the state would have to go to the federal government first before using the funds for anything other than planning and implementation. Those discussions, are currently ongoing, he said.

“We are in active discussions with the federal government on the use of those funds,” Kobylowski said.

 
 

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Andrew George

Andrew George

Andrew George covers the Statehouse from NJBIZ's Trenton bureau. Born and raised in N.J., Andrew has also spent time as a reporter in D.C., Texas and Pa. His email is andrewg@njbiz.com and he is @AndrGeorge on Twitter.

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