News & Politics

District’s Complaint About Obamacare “Fix” Vanishes

The DC government criticized the White House’s decision, but the statement quickly disappeared.

The District government’s top official in charge of overseeing health insurance was quick to voice his displeasure yesterday with President Obama’s plan to come to the aid of Americans whose health insurance will be canceled thanks to Obamacare.

But not for long.

Shortly after a statement appeared on the website of the District’s the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking claiming that the president’s purported fix “undercuts the purposes of the exchanges,” the rebuke was pulled from the agency’s website and social media accounts. Agency spokespeople and other city officials won’t say why it was retracted.

“I can’t comment,” said Michael Flagg, the insurance department’s spokesman. Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for Mayor Vince Gray, also declined to talk about why it was removed. 

DC’s statement was no more critical of the President than Washington State’s or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which also objected on their websites. Speculation as to why it disappeared ranges from the conspiratorial to the unthinkingly obvious—the White House didn’t want dissent in their own backyard.

Washingtonian, however, also prefers not to comment. Instead, we offer the full text of the statement, which remains on internet caches, below. 

The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking has worked with other city agencies, private organizations, insurance companies and the community for three years in accordance with the goals of the Affordable Care Act to create an exchange that provides health insurance to everyone.

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.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners elaborates today in its own statement.

“This decision continues different rules for different policies and threatens to undermine the new market, and may lead to higher premiums and market disruptions in 2014 and beyond,” stated the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

We concur with that assessment.

Since we are just learning of this policy change today, my department will quickly address our options, taking into consideration the views of the exchange, consumer and community groups, other city agencies and the insurance companies as we determine the impact of this shift on the goals of an affordable insurance marketplace for everyone.

We remain committed to those goals.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.