Donelon says state will implement health care fix

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon has agreed to implement a federal health care act adjustment that

could mean 93,000 residents who were facing canceled health insurance policies might be able to keep their existing plans

for another year.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana — which provides 60,000 of the 93,000 plans in jeopardy — has said it will try to extend

all of the coverage that it had previously slated for cancellation, after Donelon’s decision Wednesday.

President Barack Obama announced two

weeks ago that state insurance departments could allow certain types of

health care policies

to continue to be offered, even though they didn’t comply with the

Affordable Care Act. The Times-Picayune reports Donelon

took longer than many of his colleagues in other states to resolve

how he would proceed.

About two-thirds of the state insurance commissioners had already accepted or rejected the change by the time he made his

announcement Wednesday.

“We will contact those affected with specific instructions on how they can keep their policies if they choose to do so,” said

John Maginnis, vice president of corporate communications for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana.

Blue Cross Blue Shield, Louisiana’s

largest health insurance provider, said it wants to encourage people to

continue looking

at health coverage on the federally-run health care marketplace,

despite problems with its troubled website, HealthCare.gov.

The insurance company says several comprehensive plans — which

offer better coverage than the policies that were earlier scheduled

to be canceled — are available there.

“We are also letting these members know

that they still have the option to shop for a new plan on the federal

health insurance

marketplace, where they may find ... plans with richer benefits —

possibly at a lower cost if they qualify for a government

tax credit, or subsidy,” Maginnis said.

At first, Donelon was reluctant to

accept Obama’s change in Louisiana, saying it could threaten the

viability of certain insurance

companies in the state. He was also concerned that Obama wasn’t

authorized to make such an adjustment without the approval

of the U.S. Congress.

“There were multiple legal, solvency and cost issues that I need to get my people to look at and consider,” said Donelon,

who is also head of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.