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Rick Moran


November 9, 2013 - 9:47 am

What began as an attempt by House Republicans to embarrass President Obama and the Democrats may end up backfiring on the GOP by saving Obamacare from extinction.

The “Keep Your Plan Act,” introduced by Rep. Fred Upton, is headed for a vote next week. The bill authorizes insurance companies to keep offering plans for another year that they have said need to be canceled because of ObamaCare’s new insurance standards. The bill mirrors efforts in the Senate by vulnerable Democrats — Mary Landrieu, Joe Manchin, Mark Pryor, and Kay Hagan — that would accomplish the same goal.

Essentially, the bills grandfather in everyone’s policy if they choose to keep it if the policy was in effect on December 31, 2013. The GOP plan goes a little farther by allowing the addition of family members to the plan, while also permitting employers to add employees to their group plans. Upton’s bill requires an annual reauthorization.

Before his apology for lying about people being able to keep their health insurance plans if they liked them, President Obama constantly touted the notion that his administration was actually doing people a favor by having their plans cancelled because the new Obamacare plans offered more coverage and carried more protections. At that point, it seemed improbable that the president, or Democrats in the Senate, would support a measure that redeemed that promise. Indeed, allowing millions of people to keep their plans endangers the economics of Obamacare because most of the grandfathered plans are far less expensive and don’t offer the extensive — and unnecessary for many people — coverages than the plans being offered via the exchanges do.

But the stink of panic is emanating from vulnerable Democrats in both chambers. The narrow victory of Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race after leading by double digits in mid-October is being widely attributed to blowback from the Obamacare fiasco — both the website malfunctions and the obvious lie told by the president about Americans being able to keep their health insurance plans if they liked them. The entire dynamic has changed on the Hill and bi-partisan support appears to be building to pass some kind of fix for the cancelled plans.

The Daily Mail is reporting that Senator Landrieu believes President Obama may be open to changing the requirements for grandfathered policies:

Landrieu accompanied the president on his trip to New Orleans on Friday, and White House Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One that he’s open to legislative fixes like hers that address what he called a ‘gap’ in the law.

‘The president has said for years now that he is open to working with members of Congress that have a genuine interest in trying to strengthen the Affordable Care Act,’ Earnest said. ‘That’s been true for years now, and it’s true today.’

Earnest also tried to downplay the epidemic of cancellation letters, saying that ‘about a million of them’ have gone to Americans ‘who otherwise would qualify for Medicaid.’

There’s a wealth of differences between private health insurance coverage and the publicly funded Medicaid system, however: Many hospitals and doctors won’t treat Medicaid patients, citing low reimbursement rates and administrative red tape involved with processing claims.

Landrieu introduced her bill on Monday, reading a dramatic insurance cancellation letter on the floor of the Senate.

‘This is a letter that thousands of people are getting,’ she said. ‘and this letter never should have gone out – because we said to people if you had insurance that you like, you could keep it.’

‘We didn’t say if you had insurance that you like that … didn’t meet the minimum standards, you could keep it. We just said, and the president said over and over, if you have insurance and you like the insurance you have, you can keep it. … That’s the single focus of my bill.

Passing a bill that allows all Americans to keep their plans if they like them could save Obamacare from the death spiral — the upside down pyramid of having too many old and sick people enrolled and not enough young, healthy Americans paying for them. While the grandfathered plans don’t have the coverages that the Obamacare plans have, the balance toward healthier consumers paying into the system would be far better than it would be under Obamacare, where few “young invincibles” have signed up and most may prefer to pay the fine rather than buy expensive, unneeded insurance. A healthier pool of participants might mitigate premium increases next year, which would keep more people in the program.

And while their constituents may be pleased that they can keep their plans, passage of the bill would blunt a huge political issue for Republicans going into the 2014 mid terms. By drawing the anger out of voters for taking away their insurance, Democrats remove a potentially game changing issue from their campaigns.

So what started as a means to tweak the president for making a promise he knew he couldn’t keep, Republicans may end up saving a law they have voted 40 times to alter or repeal while handing their opponents a gift-wrapped “Get out of jail free card.”


Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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All Comments   (8)
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If they did nothing, then in any putative future elections Republicans might reap the benefits of the Democrats' incompetence and malice and win some seats. Conceivably, they might win enough to gain a majority. That means that they a) would have the media saying even more nasty things about them for not being open socialists, and b) they would actually be responsible for doing something. Neither is acceptable to the Institutional Republicans, so they are desperate to get the Democrats off the hook.

Being a tame "opposition" party really is a pretty good gig for those properly connected. And a lack of principles helps.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Let it burn" only works if you actually -- oh, I dunno -- LET IT BURN.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why are those nitwits helping Obama?

"When your opponent is making a mistake, LET HIM."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The GOP needs to as Quin Hillyer says “Don’t do something; just stand there."
Let Dems flail about trying to create fixes for this mess. I agree with yam, you can't just change regulations on the fly like this when they'd only have maybe a month to reformulate actuarials. The Wall Street Journal editorial say's about Sen Mary Landrieu plan: "Here again, complex insurance contracts take months to plan financially and negotiate with providers. They could be renewed for maybe a few months but not forever, which is why the Landrieu bill is simply a new mandate ordering insurers to continue offering these plans. But the hard business truth is that these plans are already gone. The only way to solve the problem is a time machine to go back to 2010 when HHS published its deliberately restrictive rule on "grandfathering."
As Moe Lane says "we are no longer in the land of the simple solution."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The bill authorizes insurance companies to keep offering plans for another year...

Will the insurance companies be able to? We can just change the game on them every month and expect them to be able to comply? They can offer the old plans along with the new without increased cost requiring higher premiums?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So the snare for the GOP is to help its victims, but...

Save ObamaCare
Share in the blame.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I can't believe they are really stupid enough to do this. Yeah, I know, we have plenty of evidence to the contrary....that, indeed, they are stupid enough to do it. Why can't they just sit back, have a glass of wine, and let the Dems try to figure out a way to make it work with no GOP help? The Dems will blame the GOP anyhow, so why not just let it burn? You won't win a single vote from a Dem or Indi whose policy is extended.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Another year? Let's just kick the can down the road? How does that help? I want this monstrosity to go away forever. As I understand it, even grandfathered plans are vulnerable to cancellation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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