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

The Big Dog's back

Nothing to do with the employer mandate you PDB.

Contango

Re: "Nothing to do with the employer mandate"

It has EVERYTHING to do with the EM.

Answer the question you PDB:

Pres. Obama pushed it back WHY?

The Big Dog's back

When are you going to graciously accept defeat and move on?

Contango

Re: "When,"

When are you gonna understand that your employer remains largely unaffected until 2015 you PDB?

Answer the question:

Pres. Obama pushed back the employer mandate WHY?

Peninsula Pundit

Republican tears.
We all hate to hear a Republican cry.
Again.

The Big Dog's back

If I ran a hospital or was a Doctor I wouldn't accept your inferior plans.

Nemesis

Then you'd be out of business.

1. If someone is willing to pay the bills, you have to accept their money.

2. No hospital or Dr. is in a plan's network for any reason except it's a business necessity.

The Big Dog's back

The elephant in the room? Medicare for all would solve all of this.

YAWWNN

Are you in a place where you could afford to have you taxes triple to pay for it? The studies I've read show that if went to a single payer that is what would happen to everyone who is working.

The Big Dog's back

Stop going to right wingnut sites that will solve your problem.

The Big Dog's back

Should the rest of us pay for you too yawnn?

Contango

Re: "Medicare for all would solve all of this."

Medicare and Medicaid are BROKE you PDB.

Let's just ALL climb aboard the Titanic eh?

wowbagger

The Big Dog's back
Sat, 11/16/2013 - 9:16am

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?
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now you want Medicare which YOU have to pay for out of your taxes? Make up your mind. For your information, It is this kind of stuff that lets everyone know that you are not to be taken seriously.

Contango

Re: "39 Democrats broke ranks and supported the legislation,"

WHY? 'Cause the Dems are RUNNING scared.

The Big Dog's back

I hope they get replaced by Progressives.

The Big Dog's back

What about the 3 Repubs who voted against it?

Peninsula Pundit

That means there must be 3 Republicans who have the courage to stand up for their convictions.
Only 3.

The Big Dog's back

The Facts

First of all, there are four parts to Medicare: Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (medical insurance), Part C (Medicare Advantage — private plans for parts A and B), and Part D (prescription drug plans).

When asked for evidence of Medicare going broke, a Romney spokesman pointed us to news articles about the latest Medicare trustees report, showing that the Part A trust fund would be exhausted by 2024.

So, in other words, we are not talking about all of Medicare, just the part that covers hospital visits, hospice care, nursing facilities and the like. Part B, which involves seeing a doctor, is paid out of general funds and premiums.

Moreover, though the fund would be “depleted,” it would NOT be “penniless” or “broke.” That is because the government could still cover 87 percent of estimated expenses in 2024 — and 67 percent in 2050. So, yes, there would be a shortfall, but it doesn’t mean that the fund is bankrupt.

There are various ways that Congress could deal with this problem. Already, in the Obama health care law, a surtax was added that would hit wealthy Americans, which extended the “insolvency” date by 12 years. . (This is why Biden can claim that repeal of the health care law would make Medicare go “bankrupt” sooner.) Congress has also moved some functions from Part A to Part B to extend the life of the fund, in which was basically a book-keeping maneuver.

It’s also important to remember that the Part A fund has from its inception been on the brink of going “broke.” Page 4 of a useful report by the Congressional Research Service, titled “Medicare: History of Insolvency Projections,” shows that in 1970 it was due to go “broke” in 1972.

Contango

Re: "That is because the government could still cover 87 percent of estimated expenses in 2024,"

And the 13% difference will be made up HOW?

So if you pay 13% less of your electric bill what happens?

Also, Medicare loses approx. $60-$100 billion annually in waste, fraud and abuse.

Medicare for everyone? Care to try for a trillion dollar annual loss?

The Big Dog's back

I thought it was broke you PDB?

Contango

Re: "I thought it was broke,"

How much is in and where is the "Medicare Trust Fund"?

The U.S. is $17 trillion dollars (and growing) in debt.

It's a (bleeping) accounting fiction you PDB.

The Big Dog's back

Graciously accept defeat and move on.

Contango

Re: "Graciously accept,"

Accept your ignorance? OK.

arnmcrmn

Dog cannot evem win an argument with himself in the mirror. Come on Contango, you are better. Don't argue with this loon.

Contango

Pres. Obama, 11/14/13:

"I was not informed directly that the website would not be working as -- the way it was supposed to,"

Has I been informed, I wouldn't be going out saying, boy, this is going to be great.

You know, I'm accused of a lot of things, but I don't think I'm stupid enough to go around saying, this is going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity, a week before the website opens, if I thought that it wasn't going to work."

So the Incompetent-in-Chief is pleading total ignorance?

How can this be?

Isn't he supposed to be the smartest guy that EVER occupied the office?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/po...

Contango

Actuaries are warning that the President's about face could REALLY (bleep) up the health ins. marketplace.

“Changing the ACA provisions could alter the dynamics of the insurance market, creating two parallel markets operating under different rules, thereby threatening the viability of insurance markets operating under the new rules.”

http://www.ahipcoverage.com/?p=1...

SamAdams

Anybody with an IQ above room temperature would have expected that result. Apparently, the "smartest man in the room" missed the first day or two of Econ 101, and was stoned out of his gourd for the remainder of the course. He sure hasn't exhibited he learned anything then, or that he's learned anything lately, has he?

Contango

Re: "Apparently, the "smartest man in the room" missed the first day or two of Econ 101"

He also is a 'supposed' Constitutional expert, but has not written one scholarly paper on the subject. Go figure.

He probably has his school records sealed because he doesn't want to embarrass us mere mortals with how smart he REALLY is.

SamAdams

Actually, he just might BE an expert on the Consitution. Probability alone doesn't account for his circumventing it at every turn!

As far as his school records are concerned, the prevalent rumor is that he attended Occidental as a foreign student under the name of Barry Soetero. The last I heard (as of a couple of weeks ago), somebody actually got their hands on a piece of paper that confirms that. Unfortunately, if that were true, it would have been everywhere by now, but it isn't.

The truth is that I don't think the grades are an issue. There's something else. We all know that Al Gore got some D's, and that George W. Bush got some C's. That had absolutely ZERO effect on winning or losing either of them any votes. People just don't care all that much (unless the grades are stellar, in which case it's something to brag about). No, there's something else that's apparently worth millions in legal fees to keep hidden. I just don't know what it is.

Contango

Re: "The truth is that I don't think the grades are an issue."

Agreed. There are other factors too that show the degradation of society.

BHO ADMITTED to using coke.

Look at that bozo mayor in Toronto. And let's not forget crack smokin' DC Mayor Marion Barry who won re-election!

Remember: History was made at the 1995 SOTU speech. All three men on the dais, Clinton, Gore and Gingrich had ALL admitted to using marijuana.

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