If you like your health care plan, you can keep it — and sue the insurance company for selling it to you. At least, that’s what some lawyers say.
In its attempt to let people keep their canceled health care policies, the White House has said some plans don’t have to comply with certain Obamacare requirements for another year. But those requirements are still on the books, even if the White House isn’t enforcing them.
Customers who buy uncanceled plans can still sue insurance companies for not meeting the law’s standards, legal experts say.
“If I was an insurance company, I’d be very worried about this,” said Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, adding, “The law is still the law.”
Some states and insurance carriers are already skeptical of Obama’s proposal and unenthusiastic about going through the complicated process of uncanceling plans for just a year. The threat of lawsuits could be another reason for insurers to reject the White House’s proposal.
Here’s how it works: The health care law sets certain standards for all individual insurance plans. They have to cover a set of 10 “essential benefits,” for example, and can’t impose lifetime caps on coverage. Insurance companies have been canceling policies that don’t meet those standards and don’t qualify for the relatively narrow “grandfathering” exemption written into the law.
The cancellations caused such a political firestorm that the administration allowed insurance companies to uncancel their plans and sell them for another year. Insurers can keep selling policies that don’t comply with all of the health care law, and the administration promised to look the other way.
But the standards plans have to meet are written into the law. So, the administration might not do anything about plans that don’t meet the law’s requirements, but a consumer could still sue his or her insurance company for selling a product that doesn’t cover services it is legally required to cover.
“The fact that the law still says what it says has implications beyond the federal government’s willingness to enforce it,” Adler said.
Adler is a critic of the Affordable Care Act, but more-sympathetic legal experts share his view on potential lawsuits. Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan, said insurers do appear, at first glance, to be at risk for litigation.
“I know enough to be able to say with some confidence that the insurers have reason to be worried,” Bagley said.
This dynamic could change as the administration fleshes out its proposal. But its initial rollout didn’t do anything to shield insurance companies, Adler said.
“An insurer who continues to provide a policy that does not comply with the ACA’s requirements, and denies payment for an ACA-covered procedure in keeping with the policy, could be sued by the enrollee,” said Chris Holt and Laura Collins, policy analysts at the conservative American Action Forum.
In press accounts and in a brief letter to state insurance regulators, the administration simply said it doesn’t plan to enforce the health care law’s requirements for certain policies. It didn’t try to make the case that the law itself calls for a gradual transition to the new requirements.
That approach might at least give the administration’s decision more weight if anyone does sue their insurer.
“I’m not sure that that would work,” Adler said, “but that would raise different questions, and there would be a stronger argument there.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”