Assembly member Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) has issued a statement in response to Anthem Blue Cross’s decision to suspend sales of new child-only policies beginning September 23, the date that key elements of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) take effect:
“At a time when we are launching a national approach to ensure that all children have access to health care, Anthem’s actions represent a step backwards. By threatening to drop child-only policies in California, the company jeopardizes the health of families and children. I call on Anthem to reconsider its plan.”
Feuer noted that Anthem’s actions could drive up taxpayer funded medical care costs in California and throughout the country as parents are forced to enroll their kids in public insurance programs.
Anthem’s announcement follows the Legislature’s recent approval of AB 2244 (Feuer), legislation on the Governor’s desk that phases-in critical provisions of PPACA. The bill prohibits insurers selling individual market policies in California from refusing to sell or renew coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions. It also requires insurers to issue policies to kids whose parents seek coverage during open enrollment periods, and allows parents to renew those policies. If the Governor signs AB 2244, Anthem would be banned from the individual market in California for five years if it stops selling new child-only policies.
An analysis of AB 2244 states that the bill could save the state millions of dollars, as kids currently covered by public insurance move to the private insurance market.
“Anthem Blue Cross and other insurers are holding children hostage in their attempts to weaken new federal patient protections. Some insurers would rather deny coverage to all children than have to cover some that happen to have pre-existing conditions,” said Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “Insurers need to decide if they are in the business of providing care or denying coverage. In California, we hope our insurers come to an equitable compromise that allows access for all children and affordability for those with pre-existing conditions, such as the approach embodied in AB 2244.”