Keep Your Health Plan Bill Passes House, 261-157

on November 15 2013 1:59 PM
US Capitol 2013
U.S. Capitol. Reuters

Capitol Hill Republicans' dismal approval rating may recover in the days ahead, after the U.S. House of Representatives voted Friday to pass a bill that gives individuals who are losing their health care plans the option of keeping them.

Introduced about two weeks ago, the “Keep Your Health Plan” bill is sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. It would allow insurance providers to continue offering plans that are set to cancel because of the rules of the Affordable Care Act, which is commonly called Obamacare. The final vote was 261 to 157, with 39 House Demcorats defecting.

It came a day after President Barack Obama publicly admitted to fumbling the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges, a critical component of the law that allows for the purchase of insurance. The White House reportedly said it will veto the bill.

Millions of Americans have been receiving cancellation letters from their providers after repeated promises from Obama that anyone who likes his or her current plan could keep it.

In an effort to stemming the fallout that vulnerable Democrats could face in the midterms next year, Obama offered an administrative quick fix. He allowed for insurers to extend, for at least one year, plans that would be canceled next year because they don’t meet Obamacare requirements.

What this means is that state insurance commissioners ultimately decide what plans can and can’t be sold in their states. Insurance providers will also be required to inform their clients of the protections that aren’t included in the renewed plan, and offer new options with better coverage and tax credits that might help drive costs down.

“Now, this fix won’t solve every problem for every person,” Obama said. “But it’s going to help a lot of people. Doing more will require work with Congress. And I’ve said from the beginning, I’m willing to work with Democrats and Republicans to fix problems as they arise. This is an example of what I was talking about.  We can always make this law work better.” 

In face of harsh criticism and declining favorability rating, some Democrats, who support the concept of the GOP-led measure, have either backed the House bill or in the case of the Senate, drafted similar legislation to help people keep the insurance they like.

The president and Democrats have come under fire since the Oct. 1 roll out of the Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov, which has been facing many technical glitches that are prevented many Americans from enrolling into the exchanges.

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