California insurance commissioner asks health insurers to extend policies (updated with insurers' responses)

File: Then-Assembylman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, chair of the Assembly Health Committee, questions Leslie Margolin, president of Anthem Blue Cross, about rising premium costs during a hearing  at the Capitol in Sacramento, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010.
File: Then-Assembylman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, chair of the Assembly Health Committee, questions Leslie Margolin, president of Anthem Blue Cross, about rising premium costs during a hearing at the Capitol in Sacramento, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010. Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is asking health insurance companies to maintain their individual insurance policies through 2014 after President Barack Obama extended the deadline.

Jones said he asked the state's health insurance exchange, Covered California, on Thursday to release insurers from their contracts to terminate policies as of Dec. 31.

Jones said he has opposed terminating more than 1 million insurance policies by the end of the year. He says the Affordable Care Act already did not require those policies to end until December 2014. Jones said he is sending notices to insurers Thursday.

Obama extended that deadline on Thursday, conceding problems with the rollout of the law.

The California Association of Health Plans says California should stay on track with its current plan to get more people into the comprehensive policies required under the federal law.

Kaiser Permanente:

"We are reviewing today’s announcement and hope to learn more from the Administration and state regulators about the details of this proposal and how it might be put into effect. ...

"If federal and state governments intend to change the health care coverage rules and the composition of federal and state marketplaces in 2014, we hope those changes will be done thoughtfully and with all stakeholders involved, to obtain the best outcome. ...

"We will continue to update our members and customers on how these changes will impact them as the details of this proposal and its implementation become clearer."

Blue Shield:

“Blue Shield of California will work with state regulators, public officials and Covered California to understand the implications of today’s announcement. We remain firmly committed to the goal of providing access to high quality, affordable health care for all Californians.”

Anthem Blue Cross had no comment on the call to extend individual plans.

This story has been updated.

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