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Lawmakers Chide Kriedler for Declining Health Care Extension

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 a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.