CARSON CITY, Nevada — Nevadans who had their health insurance policies canceled because they don't meet new federal requirements cannot keep them for another year, the Division of Insurance determined Wednesday.
The decision came after consultation with the attorney general's office, which concluded that the agency can't allow noncompliant plans to be renewed if they conflict with state and federal law.
Nearly 25,000 Nevadans received cancellation or nonrenewal notices in October because their existing policies don't meet new requirements under the federal health reform law.
President Barack Obama, who said numerous times that people who liked their plans would be able to keep them, came under intense political pressure after millions of people around the county began receiving cancellation notices from their carriers.
Earlier this month, the president said those people could keep their plans for another year, but he left the final decision to states, where regulators scrambled to decide if untangling the regulatory morass was even possible.
Nevada regulators said they lack discretion to extend such policies.
"For over three years the division has been working to implement requirements of the federally managed Affordable Care Act in a way that best meets the needs of Nevadans," the Insurance Division said in its announcement. "The division has been particularly concerned about how the ACA reforms would impact premiums, the solvency of insurance companies and the overall health of Nevada's insurance market."
State officials noted that the 2013 Legislature amended state law to conform to federal mandates and that the president's announcement that he would use "enforcement discretion" to allow noncompliant policies to be extended "does not change or nullify existing federal and state laws."
"They only way to fix the problems resulting from Obamacare is for Congress to change the law itself," Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said in a statement.
Sandoval, a former federal judge, opposed Obama's health care reform law from the onset, but once it was enacted decided it was in Nevada's best interest to set up its own health insurance exchange. He also was the first Republican governor to expand Medicaid eligibility, an option given to states under the law.
State Insurance Commissioner Scott Kipper noted that some people were given an option to renew their noncompliant polities early to extend plans into next year, but consumers who were not given that option will not be allowed to renew policies that are being discontinued.