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Democrats' resolve tested

The president’s Obamacare fix may keep Democrats from crossing party lines to vote against the health care law -- but anxiety remains.
/ Source: MSNBC TV

The president’s Obamacare fix may keep Democrats from crossing party lines to vote against the health care law -- but anxiety remains.

The president’s Obamacare fix may keep Democrats from crossing party lines to vote against the health care law, but it’s not enough to keep them out of the game completely.

For Democrats in Congress, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been a perfect cocktail for panic: constituents received cancellation notices for insurance policies the president promised they could keep; the online exchanges were hobbled, preventing those people from shopping for and buying new plans; and the president’s fix is falling flat.

Dissenting House and Senate Democrats are now planning and proposing their own fixes to the health care law’s flaws—legislation that would extend existing health care plans while preventing people from signing up for those policies in the future, essentially starving out the sub-par plans.

The first vote on the House version is expected to occur Friday during a debate of Rep. Fred Upton’s “Keep Your Plan Act,” a pulse check on the party’s unity.

Upton’s bill is a one-page, 235-word bill that the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein declared a “master class in the pitfalls of sound bite legislation.”

“Let’s keep the promise,” Upton said on the House floor on Friday morning, referring to the president’s since-debunked promise that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. But Upton’s bill doesn’t exactly keep the promise, either – instead, it pulls the rug out from under Obamacare by allowing insurers to ignore the reform’s regulations without mandating that policyholders can get their healthcare plans back. The White House has promised to veto it.

The president attempted to fend off legislative attempts to alter the health care law with his own administrative fix—proposing to pass the buck to insurance companies, allowing them to continue offering sub-par plans if they’d like. It’s a fix that might actually raise prices.

For liberals, the fix hurts the integrity of the reform (It “undermines the program,” co-chair of the Progressive Caucus Rep. Keith Ellison told ). And for more moderate Democrats, particularly from red-states, it’s just not enough to please their constituents as they enter tough re-election battles.

There are two legislative fixes in the Senate: one was proposed by Louisiana’s Sen. Mary Landrieu to indefinitely allow these sub-par plans. Another, proposed by Colorado’s Sen. Mark Udall does so for just two years. In the House, Democrats are expected to propose a year-long extension of the sub-par plans.

(Notably, Udall and Landrieu are up for re-election next year.)

On Friday, the House debated Upton’s bill.

“I’ll call this the 46th attempt at repeal,” New Jersey Democrat Rep. Frank Pallone said. “If you take the rhetoric away from the bill…All the discriminatory practices the Affordable Care Act were designed to eliminate would come back.”