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Feinstein backs bill to allow Americans to keep health plans

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., announced Tuesday that she will support legislation aimed at repairing the now-broken promise that the president -- and many senators -- made to Americans when the Affordable Care Act was passed: That if they liked their health insurance, they could keep it.

Feinstein will co-sponsor legislation that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., announced last week. The bill would extend the so-called "grandfather" clause and require insurance companies to keep offering insurance plans they sold before the health care exchanges opened on Oct. 1.

Support from Feinstein, who represents a solidly blue state, illustrates that a growing number of Democrats are worried about what effect the health care law's turbulent rollout could have on the party. Earlier Tuesday, former President Bill Clinton said President Barack Obama should consider changes to the law to allow Americans who are losing their insurance plans to keep them if they desire to.

"I've had some 30,000-plus letters and emails of some very sad stories unable to keep their policy. Depending on it, because of what the president said. And I think the right thing to do is to extend it, enable them to keep their policy," Feinstein told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday evening.

She added: "I think a lot of it is that people were assured that they could keep their policy and it's like, ugh. Very, very upset people, in large numbers. We've had 30,000 calls, about 87 percent negative."

There's no guarantee the bill will ever see a vote on the Senate floor, but Landrieu said the administration hasn't definitively rejected or accepted her bill yet. She also said that Senate leaders were "listening" to her proposal. (At this point, the bill is unlikely to see a vote on the floor of Majority Leader Harry Reid's Senate.)

The administration has been working on a fix that doesn't require Congress to make a change to the law. But pressure is building, and the House is set to vote Friday on a bill aimed at letting Americans keep their policies.

Landrieu said that her bill also has other supporters, many of whom are up for reelection; she named Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

"My leaders are listening very intently to voices like Bill Clinton and mine and Sen. Feinstein -- there's a lot of listening going on because that was a promise clearly made and it should be kept."