In a mild rebuke to President Barack Obama, more than three dozen House Democrats broke with their party Friday in supporting a measure the GOP said would help reverse cancellation of Americans’ individual insurance plans.
Thirty-nine Democrats voted with all but four Republicans to pass the bill, which was sponsored by Republican Fred Upton of Michigan.
The White House had feared that more politically vulnerable Democrats, loathe to be accused of voting against a measure that could help constituents who have received a cancellation notice, might support the legislation in a tacit rebuke of Obama’s handling of the health care issue.
The revolt by House Democrats was still relatively modest, signaling that the party is mostly satisfied with the “administrative” fix Obama announced yesterday during a contrite press conference at the White House. GOP aides had suggested that as many as 60 Democrats might break with the president.
The vote came as Republicans continue to condemn the underlying Obamacare law and Democrats seek to insulate themselves from its slumping popularity. The GOP proposal prompted stern opposition from Democratic leaders and a veto threat from the White House, and the Democratic-led Senate is expected to ignore it.
House Democrats also gave their members another option with their own legislative alternative as well, which failed. That proposal would have continued plans for one year only for current enrollees – not new customers -- and it would authorize the Health and Human Services Department and state insurance commissioners to go after bad actor insurance companies.
Upton’s bill, which clocks in at under 200 words and bears the title of the “Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013,” would allow insurers to keep offering individual health coverage plans in 2014 that don’t meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
Top Democrats said the GOP proposal is little more than another attempt to dismantle Obamacare by allowing insurance companies to sell new customers plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act’s requirements.
‘H.R. 3350 rolls back the progress made by allowing insurers to continue to sell new plans that deploy practices such as not offering coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, charging women more than men, and continuing yearly caps on the amount of care that enrollees receive," the Obama administration said in the statement formalizing its threat to veto the House bill. "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, hardworking, middle class families are not the solution."
“When you have a group of folks who has continuously tried to destroy the legislation, you become very suspicious when you see a 'fix,'” Rep Jose Serrano, D-N.Y. warned Thursday. “You wonder what kind of a fix it could be.”
Luke Russert and Frank Thorp contributed to this report.
First published November 15 2013, 11:22 AM