Insurers Voluntarily Agree To Kick-Start HCR Reform Changes Early

The nation’s health insurance companies have agreed to speed up a critical element of the new health care reform law to ban the practice of canceling coverage when you get sick known as rescissions. America’s Health Insurance Plans this afternoon sent Congressional leaders a letter announcing that insurers will put the change in place in May, instead of September as called for in the law.

As we reported yesterday, Democrats had been urging early action, and WellPoint agreed to make the change. But with the full AHIP backing outlined in the letter, Democrats can showcase swift action they can campaign on in advance of the midterm elections. Read the letter in full here.

“While many health plans already abide by the standards outlined in the new law, our community is committed to implementing the new standard in May 2010 to ensure that individuals and families will have greater peace of mind when purchasing coverage on their own,” wrote AHIP president Karen Ignagni.The White House hailed the change tonight in a blog post. Communications director Dan Pfeiffer said that was “one of the most important reforms” contained in the bill.

“The ban wasn’t scheduled to go into effect until September, but in a clear sign of momentum for changing the health care status quo, the health insurance industry announced today that they’ll be complying with the ban starting in May,” he wrote.

White House health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle said the insurers are “doing the right thing” and will be watched closely in the months to come.