Defying veto threat, House OKs health law change

"If you like your current coverage, you should be able to keep it."
Associated Press
Nov 15, 2013

Brushing aside a White House veto threat, the Republican-controlled House voted by a healthy bipartisan majority Friday to weaken a core component of "Obamacare" and permit the sale of individual health coverage that falls short of requirements in the law.

In all, 39 Democrats broke ranks and supported the legislation, a total that underscored the growing importance of the issue in the weeks since millions of cancellation notices went out to consumers covered by plans deemed inadequate under government rules.

The final vote was 261-157 as lawmakers clashed over an issue likely to be at the heart of next year's midterm elections. The measure faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where Democrats seeking re-election in 2014 are leading a move for generally similar legislation.

"For the last six weeks the White House stood idly by ignoring the pleas of millions," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and lead sponsor of the legislation.

"Our straightforward, one-page bill says, if you like your current coverage, you should be able to keep it. The president should heed his own advice and work with us, the Congress, as the founders intended, not around the legislative process."

But Democrats said the measure was just another in a long line of attacks on the health care bill from Republicans who have voted repeatedly to repeal it.

"It would take away the core protections of that law. It creates an entire shadow market of substandard health care plans," said Rep. Henry Waxman of California.

The vote came shortly before President Barack Obama welcomed insurance company CEOs to a White House meeting, and one day after he announced a shift toward making good on his oft-repeated promise that anyone liking his pre-Obamacare coverage would be able to keep it.

In brief opening remarks, he did not refer to the House vote, and showed no give in his commitment to the program known by his name. "Because of choice and competition, a whole lot of Americans who have always seen health insurance out of reach are going to be in a position to purchase it," he said.

The events capped a remarkable series of politically inspired maneuvers in recent days. The president and lawmakers in both parties have sought to position themselves as allies of consumers who are receiving cancellation notices — yet have made no move to cooperate on legislation that could require those consumers' coverage to be renewed if they wanted to keep it.

Neither Obama's new policy nor the bill passed in the House would ensure that anyone whose policy is canceled will be able to keep it. Instead, both would permit insurance companies to sell coverage renewals if they wish — subject to approval by state insurance commissioners.

The White House meeting came as the industry and state commissioners began adjusting to the president's one-day-old change in policy.

Under the shift, Obama said insurers should be permitted to continue to sell to existing customers individual coverage plans that would be deemed substandard under the health care law. Without the change, many existing plans would have been banned beginning next year, and the president's announcement was an attempt to quell a public and political furor triggered by millions of cancellation notices.

The House measure went one step further. It would give insurance firms the ability to sell individual plans to new as well as existing customers, even if the coverage falls short of the law's requirements.

Democrats sought to substitute a plan of their own that consisted largely of Obama's new policy, but failed on a party-line vote.

Even so, the combination of the president's announcement and his party's alternative apparently siphoned off a large number of Democratic votes from the GOP measure.

In a veto threat Thursday night, the White House accused Republicans of seeking to "sabotage the health care law," and said their measure would allow "insurers to continue to sell new plans that deploy practices such as not offering coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, charging women more than men, and continuing yearly caps on the amount of care that enrollees receive." A veto would come into play only if both houses approve legislation and send it to the White House for the president's signature.

Political calculations were evident as Obamacare produced yet more controversy.

The political arms of both parties in both houses churned out attacks all week that underscore the importance of the issue in the 2014 elections. Additionally, Obama made an unusual attempt on Thursday to shelter any Democrat who may have said when the bill was under consideration in 2010 — as he did — that anyone wanting to keep current coverage would be permitted to.

"They were entirely sincere about it," he said of the lawmakers. "It's not on them, it's on us."

In the Senate, a handful of Democrats who face tough re-election races next year, led by Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, are supporting legislation to require insurance companies to renew policies cancelled because of the law.

Under the law, plans generally are required to meet numerous conditions to qualify. Among them, they would have to accept all customers, regardless of pre-existing conditions, would be limited in additional premiums they could charge on the basis of age and could not cap lifetime benefits. They also would have to provide coverage in a wide range of areas — doctor and hospital care for adults and children, laboratory services, preventive coverage and prescription drugs among them.

The cancellation issue is only part of the woes confronting the president and his allies as they struggle to sustain the health care law.

Obama has repeatedly apologized for a dismal launch of www.healthcare.gov , which consumers in 36 states were supposed to use beginning on Oct. 1 to sign up for new coverage. The website is so riddled with problems that the administration disclosed earlier this week that fewer than 27,000 signups have been completed — a number that Republicans noted is dwarfed by the flood of cancellations issued due to the law.

Compounding the administration's misery, the poor quality of the website has made it that much harder for consumers receiving cancellation notices to shop for alternative plans.

It is unclear what, if anything, the administration is prepared to do to alleviate the threat of a break in coverage for those consumers.

 

Comments

Contango

Re: "No wonder..."

Go back to sniffing your behind and licking your b*lls Dog and leave proper discourse to humans.

Peninsula Pundit

Just a no-win situation for President Obama.
First, people were losing their substandard insurance and repubs got on him because he said you could keep your insurance.
But the reason these plans were being cancelled, you should realize, is that these substandard plans had lifetime caps. This means after the insurance company pays out so much, they pay no more.
This would mean the government would have to pick up everything after that.
Even so, after the uproar, the President then says he was wrong and allows substandard policies to continue. Even though he wasn't wrong.
And now the repubs cry on the other side of the street, even though he acceded to their requests.
This is why I have such a hard time believing that the repub party will ever do anything to actually move the country forward. It is what gives credence to the statement that repubs are the party of 'no'.
I've always said the ACA could use some fine tuning, but the way this is being done, squawk by squawk, instead of a bi-partisan, comprehensive approach is another indication of the problem in Congress and a dispassionate review of the events shows the repubs to be the bigger part of the problem.

Contango

Re: "a bi-partisan, comprehensive approach,"

Pres. Obama's Health Care summit merely showed that he and the Dems had already made their minds up and that any counter ideas were DOA.

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.c...

ACA is a bastardized free-market approach which will ultimately collapse due to unsound business practices.

Contango

Re: "First, people were losing their substandard insurance and repubs got on him because he said you could keep your insurance."

So WHY did ol' Clueless NEVER ONCE refer to it as "substandard ins." on the campaign trail????

-----------------

Pres. Obama, 11/14/13:

“Well, the problem with the grandfather clause that we put in place is it’s almost like we said to folks you’ve got to buy a new car even if you can’t afford be it right now,”

So, to use his analogy, he originally said that if you LIKE your "paid for" 10 yr. old car, you can keep it?

BUT, you were FORCED to trade it in and now you have to go back to the auto dealer and 'try' to buy it back?

Only a brain-numbed true believer could still support this jamoke.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/obama...

thinkagain

One month ago the Great and Powerful Barry said he wouldn’t negotiate, now you blame Repubs for not negotiating? What a complete and utter lack of reality. Barry doesn’t know how to negotiate, all he knows is divisiveness. He’s probably hoping Putin will rescue him from yet another boneheaded fiasco.

bondgirlM

I agree Big Dog, the Prez should not "give in" to the GOP. Let him and Reid and Pelosi and the whole bunch of Obama butt kissers go down in flames. This is their baby!

anthras

I don't know about many other persons however for years my insurance after a $200.00 deductible has paid my claim fast and fair. I would think if there were a lot of bogus policies then the state insurance departments have not been doing their jobs as the insurance companies are regulated the states.

Also it does seem that if you like your doctor you can keep him or her however you may have to pay out of pocket as it seems insurance companies will be droping doctors due to government cut backs.

.(Reuters) - UnitedHealth Group dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks, leaving many elderly patients unsure whether they need to switch plans to continue seeing their doctors, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The insurer said in October that -underfunding of Medicare Advantage plans for the elderly could not be fully offset by the company's other healthcare business. The company also reported spending more healthcare premiums on medical claims in the third quarter, due mainly to government cuts to payments for Medicare Advantage services.

The Journal report said that doctors in at least 10 states were notified of being laid off the plans, some citing "significant changes and pressures in the healthcare environment." According to the notices, the terminations can be appealed within 30 days.

Tyler Mason, a UnitedHealth spokesperson, was not immediately available for comment when reached by Reuters.

The insurer told the WSJ that its provider networks were always changing and that it expected its Medicare Advantage network to be 85 percent to 90 percent of its current size by the end of 2014.

UnitedHealth is participating in about a dozen new state insurance markets that launched on October 1 to offer subsidized health coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul.

The insurer said previously it planned to withdraw from some markets in 2014 because of the government funding cuts.

Another top health insurer, Aetna Inc , also warned in October that it expected slowing growth in 2014 in its Medicare Advantage

YAWWNN

So did mine, but the co-insurance, deductibles and co-pays all went up. So my weekly rate went down by $5.00 but the amount that I will pay out of pocket over a typical policy year will increase by $900. Yep, only in the liberal mind would this be considered a decrease.

Peninsula Pundit

Who determines insurance premiums, government or insurance companies?
But the insurance companies are getting a free pass.
Everyone agrees the insurance companies will screw you every chance they get, but somehow they are now 'honest brokers' here.
What party is it that is closely associated with the concerns of big business?
Is insurance 'big business'?
You can now draw logical conclusions, I hope.
How fickle public opinion.

Contango

Re: "Who determines insurance premiums, government or insurance companies?"

Both.

Actuaries and govt. rules and regs determine the premiums.

SamAdams

Define "crap health insurance" if you would, please.

Insurance is NOT a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Why do I need "free" birth control? Why do I need prenatal care or coverage for childbirth? Why do I need "free" prostate screenings? By the same token, explain to me why YOU need a "free" pap smear?

Oh, wait. The reason you and I "need" all of those things we DON'T need, and the reason all of those "free" things cost so much, is so that we can all pay for EVERYbody! I realize that all of us paid for the indigent in the form of higher hospital bills, etc., but that was frankly cheaper than THIS boondoggle.

Obamacare needs to be scrapped completely. Healthcare reform needs to be done by people who have a clue, NOT politicians who, by virtue of myriad OTHER failed or failing programs have proved time and again that government doesn't do very many things very well.

Progressives babble about "fairness." Well, how is it "fair" that so many middle-class families will be driven into poverty or bankruptcy because of this stupid plan? How is it "fair" that an evaluation will be made as to the cost/benefit to society of bothering to treat you? How is it "fair" that your much-loathed 1% will still be able to afford decent care, and the rest of us will struggle even more than we did BEFORE Obamacare?

Here's a helpful clue since you clearly don't have one: This ain't about reform. It's about CONTROL, and if it stands, it will provide that in spades!

The Big Dog's back

sam, are you really that ignorant or are you so full of hate for Obama that you can't see the differences?

YAWWNN

1...2...3...oh wait, this is your round about way of throwing up the race card. Argument lost, now you can go back to bed.

The Big Dog's back

How did I lose?

deertracker

@BD
Yes!!!!!!!! That's Sham for ya!

SamAdams

I'd be happy to answer all of your questions, Big Dog, just as soon as you answer mine!

I won't hold my breath, though. You almost never answer anybody's questions. Instead, you busy yourself with specious claims or race-baiting. Come to think of it, I guess that IS kind of an answer, isn't it?

There you go again

I don't know about you, but I don't give Big Dog the satisfaction of me reading his post. Please, just skip over it because it ain't worth reading. BTW, you need to check out Disney's new block buster movie " Lying King." I hear it is hilarious!

The Big Dog's back

Anything like lyin ryan?

Peninsula Pundit

As I posted above, the plan could use some fine-tuning, which plan hasn't? And as also posted above, 'lifetime caps' on coverage are the biggest reason these sub-standard plans are being discontinued.
Again, for some reason, the people posting here seem to believe that there is not a more honest broker than the insurance companies. Even though they could just add the coverage to existing plans to bring them up to standards, they just cancel the plans.
HAS ANYONE ELSE THOUGHT OF THIS?
Well, I'm sure if you did, you went la-la-la in your head until those thoughts died so you could get back to Obama-Obama-Obama again.

Contango

Re: "And as also posted above, 'lifetime caps' on coverage are the biggest reason these sub-standard plans are being discontinued."

One factor.

Only ind. plans before March 23, 2010 are grandfathered. All others must comply with unlimited lifetime benefits and NUMEROUS other mandates.

Now the Incompetent-in-Chief is putting all that on hold.

Just wait until cos. begin to respond to the 2015 employer mandate in 2014 and the SHTF.

The Big Dog's back

Bullspit. I already proved you wrong on that.

Bottom Line

Big Dog, you've literally never proved ANYbody wrong about anything on here. Ever.

worddrow811

Our country has become an us against them society and so far they are winning. We are not a great American society when a few people control the economy and steer the money into their bank accounts. Our government may not be literally killing us, but they are killing us financially and when humpty dumpty fell off the wall all the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn't put humpty together again. WE are on the precipice. Put it in writing for the morons in congress who don't get it. They have broken our trust in them and it's time to clean house.

Unassumer

I thought the point of Obamacare was to keep insurance companies from screwing people over. Apparently that was hogwash too. Also, Obama cannot run again but it matters little who is in the Presidency because they are all out for themselves and not for the common man. Writing to congress is like poisoning yourself and waiting for them to die. Get real. The whole idea is to financially ruin this country and keep us under control. There will be food shortages and martial law. Start stocking up now and have a good hiding place.

The Big Dog's back

Funny the tea idiots where I work were having a "discussion" about Obamacare saying how it was going to raise our rates. I asked them if they saw the notice on the board saying what our rates would be and that they were lower. Of course the teatards changed the subject and started slamming Obama.

Pete

So as long as your rates went down, screw the others who had their rates go up. They can eat it right?

Typical parasite mentality:
I got mine, to he** with you!

The Big Dog's back

I pay for mine, why should I have to pay for yours when you exceed your limits? Why should I have to pay for you when your insurance drops you because you made a claim? Why should I pay for you because your insurance doesn't cover pre-existing conditions?

Pete

I pay my own way. Never asked anyone else for help. It is called Personal Responsibilty. You should try it some time.

You strut around here crowing your rates went down. Yet thousands upon thousands of American's rates went up. That is their problem not yours though huh?

And despite what the Liar-In-Chief said about people not losing their coverage, we now know that was a complete fabrication. But you have no care those Americans because your rates went down.

Liberal mentality is so selfish. Screw them right? You benefited from this. That's all that matters.

Peninsula Pundit

That's the motto over the door to the Republican National Committee, Pete.

Contango

Re: "our rates would be and that they were lower."

The Employer mandate doesn't start until 2015.

Pres. Obama pushed it back WHY?

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