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Kreidler Defends Decision to Decline Health Care Extension

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler testifies before Congress on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.

Like a lot of big projects, Obamacare needs time to be successful. That was the message from Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who testified before a House subcommittee in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

Kreidler had been invited to speak by Washington Rep. Jim McDermott, but quickly found himself in the crosshairs of another, Rep. Dave Reichert. 

Reichert, a Republican, said he knows the state is proud of its relatively smooth rollout of Obamacare, “but I just want to be here to bring a little bit of reality to it.”

Reichert said nearly 300,000 people in Washington state received notices that their insurance plans were canceled because they didn’t meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

But when President Barack Obama himself announced that insurers could continue coverage and let people keep their plans, Kreidler said Washington state wouldn’t follow along; the cancellations would stand.

“Did you speak to any of those health insurance carriers to see whether or not they could continue their coverage before you made that decision for those 290,000 [people]?” Reichert asked Kreidler.

“The answer to that, congressman, is I did not,” Kriedler said.

As Reichert pushed him for a reason, Kreidler said the industry itself had concerns about the proposed solution. He also said the state’s exchange is functioning well.

The most recent numbers show more than 176,000 people enrolled through Washington’s health care exchange. About 90 percent of the plans are Medicaid.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.