Senate Democrats Haunted By 2010 Vote That Paved The Way For Policy Cancellations Under Obamacare

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A partisan Senate vote in 2010 that sealed the fate of millions of people whose health insurance policies are now being canceled under Obamacare could come back to haunt the Democrats who made it happen.

Incredibly, considering the source, that’s the conclusion that CNN investigative correspondent Chris Frates reached last week when he reviewed the legislative history of the Affordable Care Act.

The so-called “grandfather” rule that is now all but forcing the insurance business to drop current policies established guidelines for what kinds of policies could continue into the Obamacare era without modification. “Democrats argued then that the rule was necessary,” writes Frates, “to insure that insurance companies weren’t able to drastically change their plans and still remain exempt from Obamacare.”

The rule essentially prevents insurance companies from keeping their grandfathered status if they make changes to their plans. In practice, insurance companies are loath to leave their plans unchanged so grandfathered plans are disappearing, and people are being forced to change their plans to meet Obamacare’s more robust coverage requirements.

“More robust” can be read as “unnecessary coverage,” such as compulsory maternity care even for policyholders who, because of age, gender or circumstance, don’t need it.

Republicans had attempted to block the grandfather rule in September 2010, arguing that its provisions essentially guaranteed that coverage providers would be compelled, under the law, to drop existing policyholders in droves in order to meet Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all insurance requirements. They didn’t have the votes in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the override bill was defeated in a partisan vote.

Now Democratic incumbents are backing away from their Obamacare voting record in an attempt to position themselves for the 2014 elections. Of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs in 2014, 21 are held by Democrats. Republicans would need to retake six seats in order to claim a Senate majority.

As campaign season gears up, get ready to see a litany of preemptive, “I-told-you-so” strikes from Republicans. CNN’s story dug up exactly one such warning from 2010, when Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said this:

The District of Columbia is an island surrounded by reality. Only in the District of Columbia could you get away with telling the people if you like what you have you can keep it, and then pass regulations six months later that do just the opposite and figure that people are going to ignore it. But common sense is eventually going to prevail in this town and common sense is going to have to prevail on this piece of legislation as well.

The administration’s own regulations prove this is not the case. Under the grandfathering regulation, according to the White House’s own economic impact analysis, as many as 69 percent of businesses will lose their grandfathered status by 2013 and be forced to buy government-approved plans.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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