39 Democrats Defect, Vote To Approve House Healthcare Plan
November 15, 2013 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. House Friday passed a bill that would allow health insurance companies to keep selling policies that don’t comply with Affordable Care Act standards.
The 261-157 vote on the Keep Your Health Plan Act sponsored by Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.) included 39 Democrats.
The plan would allow companies to sell non-compliant policies to current and new customers, and wouldn’t require the providers to alert consumers about the required ACA benefits that are not included.
Upton said his measure would fulfill a promise Obama had made to the American people and then broke, The New York Times said.
“In the last three years,” Upton said during floor debate, “the President personally promised that if people liked their current health care plan, they could keep it ‘no matter what.’ But cancellation notices are now arriving in millions of mailboxes across the country. It’s cancellation today, sticker shock tomorrow.”
President Barack Obama said he would veto Upton’s bill if it reaches his desk.
The proposal goes beyond the fix announced by Obama Thursday, which would only allow insurers and State insurance commissioners to extend those policies through most of 2014 to current policyholders and requires companies to alert customers of what ACA benefits aren’t included and telling policyholders of the possibility of getting better coverage and pricing by using the health insurance marketplaces.
The administration has been slammed for the faulty Oct. 1 launch of Healthcare.gov, the Federal health insurance exchange, as well as news that policyholders across the country were receiving cancellation notices from their insurance carriers because policies didn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act and contradicted Obama’s oft-repeated “if you like your policy, you can keep it” refrain.
A number of Democrats — some facing tough re-elections and anxious be seen as proactively trying to remedy the cancellation problem — also pushed for action that would ensure that Obama’s promise was kept in some way.
“This bill is not a bill to let people keep their health insurance plans. The President took care of that issue yesterday,” Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said during floor debate Friday. “What this bill is, is another vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
“We knew this was a promise [Obama] could not keep, and now it is a promise he has broken,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
The legislation’s outlook is unclear in the Senate, where Democrats also up for re-election next year are looking for a way to help consumers who face not having insurance because their policies don’t meet requirements of the 2010 law, the Times said.
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) offered her own plan, which would allow people to keep their current plans indefinitely. However, after the President’s announcement Thursday, many Senate Democrats said they would wait to see if additional legislation was necessary.
Obama and his top aides were to meet with insurance company executives at the White House to try to staunch concerns about the implications of the President’s plan.
The insurance industry reacted with alarm to Obama’s announcement, saying the decision to change the rules about who could keep insurance plans could undermine the Affordable Care Act and hike premiums.