The District of Columbia’s insurance commissioner was given his walking papers on Friday, one day after he challenged President Barack Obama’s fix of the troubled rollout of his signature healthcare law, The Washington Post reports.
Obama held a Thursday press conference, saying he would allow insurance companies to continue offering people policies they wanted to keep, though they had previously been dubbed substandard because they didn’t offer all the benefits required under the new law.”
“The action today undercuts the purpose of the exchanges, including the District’s DC Health Link, by creating exceptions that make it more difficult for them to operate,” D.C. insurance commissioner William P. White said in a statement on the department’s website afterward.
The next day, White was called into a meeting with the top deputies of Democratic D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and was told the mayor “he wants to go in a different direction.”
White told The Post that he was never told his statement was the reason for his firing, but he suspected the timing was not coincidental.
While Obama’s order did not require insurance companies to re-offer policies they have cancelled, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners noted that it “threatens to undermine the new market, and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond.”
White wrote that he concurred with that opinion.
Insurance officials have argued that changing the rules could cause rate hikes in 2015 because it would create separate pools of healthy and sick people – the very thing the Affordable Care Act was supposed to avoid.
White told The Post his comments were not intended to say he was either for or against Obama’s ruling.
“I didn’t know enough to fully support it,” he said. “I want to be clear, and I think it is, I was not speaking for Mayor Gray.”