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House votes to let Americans keep health plans; 39 Dems defy Obama
If too many young and healthy people keep noncompliant plans, a high proportion of sicker consumers on the exchanges — people with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied — would cause premiums to rise and spoil Mr. Obama’s overhaul.
“The Administration supports policies that allow people to keep the health plans that they have,” the White House 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.”
The House voted shortly before Mr. Obama met with insurance company executives at the White House.
The president made no mention of his renewal proposal in remarks before the meeting. Instead, he said they would be “brainstorming” ways to make Americans aware of their coverage options.
“Because of choice and competition, a whole lot of Americans who’ve always seen health insurance out of reach are going to be in a position to purchase it,” he said.
But Mr. Obama’s administrative decision has some state insurance commissioners worried. The logistics of grabbing back people who received cancellation notices are murky, they said, and it may prevent customers from contributing to a robust exchange in their respective states.
Rep. John Fleming, Louisiana Republican, said Mr. Obama’s fix “really only offers political cover for Democrats. It doesn’t really do anything substantial.”
He said the Upton bill is a step in the right direction, but he is working on legislation that lets Americans “meet the individual mandate as long as you purchase insurance that you like that you’re comfortable with.”
“What I’d like to do is actually put in effect rules and regulation and laws that actually allow that [individual] market to come back together again,” he said, an idea that would surely roil Mr. Obama’s plans to build balanced exchanges through his law.
GOP lawmakers insisted they like to scrap the whole law, despite their vote to amend Obamacare’s problems.
“It is merely to stop the bleeding,” Rep. Michael Burgess, Texas Republican, said.
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About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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