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Lawmakers Chide Kriedler for Declining Health Care Extension

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Associated Press

Washington’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is getting an earful from lawmakers over his decision not to grant relief to people losing their health plans next month.

President Barack Obama, to make good on a promise that had begun to ring hollow, said he’d allow those losing their coverage to keep it for a year. But Kreidler declined the fix, calling it a bad fit for Washington.

On Thursday, Kreidler appeared before the Republican-led state Senate Health Care Committee. Lawmakers like Randi Becker said Kreidler’s decision left people confused and angry.

“People are calling my home, and they’re saying, ‘I didn’t even get a choice; I didn’t even get asked. This man made this decision.’ And they’re mad,” said Becker.

Becker admonished him for making the call just a couple of hours after the president announced the rules change.

Kreidler responded the change would have created two separate insurance pools, which could have destabilized the whole system.    

“The disruption that would have represented would have been significant from the standpoint of potentially harming a lot more people, and harming the integrity of the marketplace itself,” he said.

Kreidler said he might have reconsidered if Washington didn’t have a functioning health benefits exchange, which lets people comparison-shop for new plans. He said about 60 percent of the people whose plans are being canceled are eligible for government subsidies to buy new ones.

Gabriel Spitzer is the Host and Senior Producer of Sound Effect, KNKX's "weekly tour of ideas inspired by the place we live." Gabriel was previously KNKX's Science and Health Reporter. He joined KNKX after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.
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