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House set to vote on Republican fix for Obamacare woes

The House is set to vote on a bill Friday that would let Americans hold health plans in the coming year that do not comply with Obamacare, a key test for Democrats torn between angry constituents who are losing their plans and their own party's remedies — including President Obama's new "fix" that lets existing customers renew their barebones plans.

Rep. Fred Upton, Michigan Republican, offered Keep Your Health Plan Act at the height of furor over Mr. Obama's oft-repeated promise that people who liked their health plans could keep them. Millions of Americans received cancellation notices because their plans did not meet coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act, forcing the president to apologize as Democrats pushed for a way to let people keep their plans.

The Republican-led bill would allow new enrollees to gain plans that do not comply with Obamacare, raising the ire of Democrats who say it is an insidious attempt to undermine the delicate balance of Mr. Obama's law.

"This is a colossal waste of time," Rep. Jim McGovern, Massachusetts Democrat, said.

Mr. Obama offered an administrative remedy on Thursday that permits insurers to offer a one-year renewal to people who hold noncompliant plans, and Senate Democrats are pushing legislation that would let existing enrollees hold onto their plans indefinitely.

Mr. Obama's fix has some state insurance commissioners worried. The preservation of barebones plans could keep some younger, healthier consumers out of the new Obamacare exchanges, setting up uneven risk poolsand causing premiums to rise.

The House bill goes even further, prompting the White House to issue a veto threat.

"The Administration supports policies that allow people to keep the health plans that they have," it said in a statement of administration policy. "But, policies that reverse the progress made to extend quality, affordable coverage to millions of uninsured, hardworking, middle class families are not the solution."

Several Democrats took to the House floor to decry the bill as yet another attempt by House Republicans to gut Mr. Obama's law.

But Rep. Michael Burgess, Texas Republican, said Friday's vote is a stop-gap fix to an underlying law his party has never liked.

"It is merely to stop the bleeding," he said.

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