Recounting a Wednesday meeting with President Obama, state insurance commissioners said that the president did not pressure them to go along with his plan for people whose health policies had been canceled.
The meeting, held in the Oval Office, lasted 50 minutes. Bill Nelson, the former U.S. senator who heads the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, told reporters that he initiated the meeting after Obama announced his plan last week.
The plan is predicated on commissioners letting their state’s insurance companies to extend non-Obamacare-compliant plans. But it’s up to them. And, though a letter sent last week by the administration had “encouraged” state officials to comply, the commissioners said that Obama hadn’t tried to convince them to participate during the Wednesday meeting.
“I don’t think the president was trying to convince us or persuade us to do what he’s suggesting,” Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Tom Leonardi, told reporters. “I think it was the exact opposite, that he really understands the value of state regulators, that he really wants to work with the NAIC.”
“That’s really what it was about. It wasn’t the president trying to persuade us or stiff-arm us,” he said.
“We came away agreeing that there was a lot of difference of opinions as to whether or not we can or should do what he urged us to do last week,” Louisiana Insurance Commissioner and NAIC President Jim Donelon said later.
According to the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, which is tracking state commissioners’ responses to the fix: six states have agreed to it, six states have said they won’t, and seven states have publicly said they’re still deciding. The others haven’t made public statements.