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Monday, October 24, 2016

One day after President Barack Obama announced that all Americans would be allowed to keep their canceled health care policies for an additional year, the House of Representatives passed a bill that goes even further to guarantee access to plans that do not meet the Affordable Care Act’s stricter policy standards.

The “Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013,” sponsored by Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), passed in a 261 to 157 vote on Friday afternoon — 39 Democrats joined the majority of the Republican caucus, while four Republicans voted against the measure.

Upton’s bill would allow insurers to keep selling their existing plans, whether or not they comply with the Affordable Care Act’s stricter quality standards. It would also allow insurers to sell those plans to new consumers. In other words, insurance companies would no longer be prevented from refusing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, or charging higher prices to the sick or elderly, among the many other patient protections offered by the health care reform law.

As New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn writes, “A vote for the Upton bill, in short, is a vote for everything Americans hate about health care.”

In addition to undermining the law’s consumer protections, the bill could significantly raise premiums in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. As Sarah Lueck of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explains:

[U]nder the Upton bill, insurers offering existing individual-market plans outside of the insurance marketplaces in 2014 could continue to reject people with health problems and charge sicker and older people far higher premiums than younger and healthier people must pay. This would deter sick people from enrolling in plans outside of the marketplaces while enticing younger, healthier people to choose them instead of marketplace plans. In contrast, plans offered through the marketplaces would have to comply fully with ACA requirements — for example, they must take all applicants regardless of pre-existing medical conditions and cannot charge higher premiums based on people’s health status.

The Upton bill would create such a disparity in market rules between grandfathered plans and marketplace plans that the people most interested in remaining in the former would heavily be a younger and healthier group — and hence less costly to cover — than the people who would enroll in the latter. This would cause the pool of people buying coverage in the marketplaces to be less healthy, which in turn would drive up premiums substantially for marketplace coverage. This dynamic, known as adverse selection, occurs when healthier and less-healthy people separate into separate pools.

Due to these defects, the White House has announced that President Obama will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

“The administration supports policies that allow people to keep the health plans that they have. But, policies that reverse the progress made to extend quality, affordable coverage to millions of uninsured, hard-working, middle-class families are not the solution,” it said in a statement. “If the president were presented with [the bill], he would veto it.”

The odds of the bill reaching the president’s desk are exceedingly slim; there is almost no chance that the Democratic-controlled Senate would pass a bill that so significantly undermines the Affordable Care Act.

Before Upton’s bill passed, the Republicans prevented a vote on a Democratic alternative — introduced as a “motion to recommit” by Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) — citing the plan’s additional consumer protections as beyond the scope of his bill, and therefore “non-germane.” The Democratic bill would have extended canceled policies through 2014, prevented insurers from selling the policies to new customers, and allowed the Department of Health and Human Services to contest discriminatory policies.

The procedural move was likely intended to deny Democrats political cover while voting against Upton’s plan.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • sigrid28

    In the 1980s, I wrote and edited over three thousand pages of copy using text-stream word processing on the University of Chicago’s huge Unix computer, along with thousands of other scholars in many fields. We’d bump into each other going to pick up copy, because at that time no one had a printer at home, and you paid an account each month to cover the cost of your modem attachment time on the computer and printing costs. I worked with the campus IT director, who was expert at quickly locating files you thought you had lost and explaining how to make the formidable text-stream program do your bidding. He acted more like a psychiatrist than a computer geek. I wish we could clone him, like Dr. Manhattan in the “Watchmen” franchise, and have the calming influence of a glowing blue superhero guide each of the millions of Americans working to access insurance through I want one of these Dr. Manhattan clones standing by President Obama’s side, when he vetoes these ridiculous bills passed by cowardly members of Congress, who–unlike the rest of us–have the world’s best health insurance. Democrats need to stand by his side instead of acting like cheese-eating surrender monkeys and caving in to the hysteria ginned up by Republicans intent on destroying the ACA. They were united and held the line during the government shutdown. I want them to go back to being superheroes instead of contributing to the worries of millions of Americans for whom the ACA is their ONLY HOPE OF ADEQUATE HEALTH CARE.

    • charleo1

      Hey Segrid my friend! Hope all is well with you. Yes, I agree. The Dems. must
      continue to be united, Now, more than ever, at this critical stage. They must
      exude confidence! For now they must secure the sale, complete the deal, and
      the they will be rewarded. As more, and more people come to feel the heavy yoke of the for profit insurance cartel, slowly begin to rise off their shoulders. As they come to realize all the ginned up horrors were designed to keep them
      from gaining control over this one element in their lives, that always seemed
      to keep the financial security they were working so hard to achieve, just out
      of reach. For Democrats, to quote Thomas Paine, “These are the times that
      try men’s souls.” And a time for Democrats to remember, true progress is never easy. And anyone who’s ever accomplished anything worthwhile will vouch to that. And it would also be a good time for Democrats to remember why they became Democrats in the first place.

  • Lynda Groom

    Well I suppose we should all stand and cheer the people’s House for wasting their time and our money. This is going directly to the dust bin of history. Why can’t they just work on a positive fix for a change, and put aside the party driven drivel?

    • charleo1

      There are several theories as to why Republicans can no longer work on a
      positive fix, a temporary fix, a cheap fix, or are just no longer capable of any
      old kind of work at all. But these theories all involve so much bad language,
      they are simply not fit to print.

      • silence dogood

        see above

  • 4sanity4all

    This bill will not fix the law, it will not strengthen the law, and this bill needs to be defeated by the Senate. And if they are too cowardly to defeat it, then the President must veto it.

    • Paul Bass

      It will never see the light of day in the Senate. Harry will never bring it up. Dead meaningless political drivel from hypocritical republicans.

  • infadelicious

    happy Saturday……….

    • Independent1

      I’m guessing that your pictorial is representing the top 20% of Americans who have wealth-destributed to themselves 93% of all the money in America (I’m assuming your pictures represent the Walton Family, the Koch Bros. and Karl Rove) You certainly can’t be trying to suggest that there’s something wrong with the 80% of Americans (the middle class and poor) who now only own 7% of all the money in America trying to get back some of the money that the top 20% have stolen from them!!! Only someone as completely corrupt and vile as yourself could ever suggest such a thing!!

      Happy Saturday Dirtbag!!!!

      • infadelicious

        You’re guessing? That’s what libs do best since they have no critical thinking skills. Like when Obama guessed the ACA would work. Epic fail ! Now you are all crusty cause you were duped not once but twice by the snake oil salesman in the WH. Maybe the picture represents the obamas the Clinton’s the Kerry’s etc or maybe you. Shalom

        • Independent1

          Epic Fail?? Wow!! A problem that gets fixed in 45 days is an Epic Fail?? I don’t think so. Now, the roll out of Medicare Part D back in 2003 which wasn’t really even working correctly after 6 months was the true description of Epic Fail!!

          In case you didn’t notice in the news today – the Obamacare website is down to a 1% failure rate after just 45 days of fixes – not after 180 days and was still operating with a number of bugs!!

          And suggesting that Republicans know anything about critical thinking is about as big a misnomer as I’ve ever heard!! If Republicans knew anything about critical thinking, they wouldn’t be focusing their efforts on scandals every chance they can find just to distract attention from and cover up their absolute failure to think of anything original!! The GOP hasn’t come out with a solution to anything in well over 3 decades!!!

          • infadelicious

            Ease up on the purple drank there big fella ! The failure rate is down to 1%????? NOT! They just announced that the success rate when they eventually get it working will be 80%. So they are aiming for a failure rate of 20%. Nice try though. They are probably at 1% success rate now that would mean 99% EPIC FAIL- do not keep deflecting from the present inept president as that doesn’t work with me and it doesn’t change the failure of the ACA and the president

          • Independent1

            More useless ranting. As I’ve told some of your other idiot trolls, don’t count ACA out until the fat lady sings. Far more than 1 million people have already submitted applications – just because they haven’t rushed to confirm their purchases over a month and a half before they would become effective, is not a sign of failure!! Only 123 people signed up for Romney care in its 1st month of availability!! Just like in baseball too – the game aint over until it’s over!! Four and a half more months to go!! A lot can happen!! You may well have to eat your words!!

          • infadelicious

            I would call blatant lies like 1% failure rate useless ranting but then again you’re the one drinkin the koolaid. I’ll be waiting to hear the first wookie sing. Shalom

          • MarkStevano

            Everything that motivates the republican party has to do with leaving this country worse off then it was. All the while, blaming anyone that wants to better America for running up a tab of some kind. What’s good for Americans is a nasty pill for the GOP and it’s far right mentally disturbed, to not only swallow, but pick out of the American wellness bottle. So GOP…keep constructing your walls around yourselves. Hopefully soon, not only will America not see you, we won’t hear you either. Then blame America for not stopping YOU!

          • infadelicious

            a tab of some kind = $17 TRILLION. You explain to your children and grandchildren why YOU did not only NOT STOP OBOZO but you blindly and obediently helped him Detroitify all 57 states, including Hawaii, which Teleprompter Jesus says is in Asia.

  • Igor Shafarevich

    Hussein Obama’s lies about “keeping your doctor” and “keeping your insurance” have been completely exposed by the University of Virginia’s actions:

    • MarkStevano

      Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq….shortly after American soldiers started fighting and dieing for one of the grandest lies ever perpetrated on America. He told America the war would pay for itself. Americans kept fighting and dieing, while the deficit was spiraling out of control. Guess what? America never found WMD’s….Huh? Iraq’s oil was supposed to pay for the war but it didn’t. Huh? I guess the point is…Obama “you can keep your health care” isn’t even a grain of sand on the beach compared to that…AND no one has died for it.

      • Igor Shafarevich

        No one here is defending W. Bush.

        In fact, we may perhaps agree that the decision to invade Iraq is quite possibly the worst decision in United States history.

  • Igor Shafarevich

    Since those who preach from collectivism’s altar hold an irrational confidence in human reason, they object to that which is not controlled.

    • MarkStevano

      Prof Igor……since those who preach from the trickle down alter hold an irrational amount of toilet paper, I can’t wipe this excrement of my body that’s spewed by the “uncontrolled.”

      • Igor Shafarevich

        Like marxism, the “big idea” of today’s liberalism is the notion that a self-proclaimed group of the uber-enlightened are somehow magically entitled to consciously direct the future of mankind.

  • George Allegro

    Hussein Obama is a delusional marxist who intentionally causes chaos to advance his own destructive agenda.

    • infadelicious

      Never let a good crisis go to waste, even if you have to cause that crisis yourself

  • George Allegro

    If one claims that government should reduce discontent due to envy, one will also claim that the state must reduce the liberty which leads to unequal incomes and associated envy.

    • infadelicious

      The government should ensure equal opportunity, not equal stuff.