November 16, 2013

Republicans are very busy in the House making sure that small fraction of people whose health insurance was disrupted by the ACA are protected. Forget about the millions shut out of Medicaid in red states, folks, or protections for pre-existing conditions. They're moochers. Only the ones with junk policies who are lucky enough to be healthy matter.

Also, let's give a slow clap to the wimpy Democrats who voted for it, too, shall we?

Here's the best part of the debate, via ThinkProgress:

Democrats offered their “motion to recommit” as an alternative to a proposal introduced by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) that allows insurers to maintain their existing policies and permits issuers to offer these plans to new customers.

The Democrats’ version only extends grandfather status to current policyholders who have received cancellation notices and includes consumer protections missing from the Upton bill. For instance, the measure mandates that insurers notify policyholders of exchange options and consumer protections. It also explicitly clarifies that existing rate review authorities apply to renewed plans.

But after Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) introduced the Democrats’ proposal, Upton stood up and objected to the consumer protections contained within it, arguing that they went beyond the scope of his own bill. The chair, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), then read off the offending provisions and ruled that the proposal was not germane, preventing the House from even considering it:

The amendment proposed in the motion to recommit in pertinent part requires state insurance commissioners to examine notices of health insurance cancellations or conversions. It also addresses the regulation of health insurance rates, specifically the amendment delineates what would constitute inadequate notice of cancellation or conversions of health insurance coverage and directs state insurance commissioners to investigate such cases of inadequate notice. Additionally, it permits the Secretary of Health and Human Services or the relevant state insurance regulator to take corrective actions if health insurance rates are determined to be excessive, unjustified, or discriminatory….The chair therefore finds that the amendment proposed in the motion to recommit goes beyond the subject matter of the underlying bill. The point of order is it is therefore not germane.

Got that? Consumer protections, even on the junk policies, are not germane.

If FEC reports were done in real time, I'll bet we'd see a nice flow of contributions from health insurers to Upton and those who voted for this piece of nonsense, despite their public declarations of "concern" over the broad scope of the bill.

Unlike the Democrats' proposal, which only lets existing policyholders keep their plans for an extra year, the Republican bill allows insurers to sell current plans to new customers even if those plans fall short of Obamacare's minimum coverage standards. Democrats slammed it as the latest GOP attempt to repeal Obamacare.

"The free enterprise system is lions and they're eating antelopes," said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA). "I urge a no vote on this [Upton bill] because you're going to create endless confusion in this country in the insurance market."

Insurers voiced similar concerns about the Obama and Upton fixes, warning that both could lead to a sicker, older pool in the market exchanges (by letting healthier, younger people to hold on to their substandard policies) and therefore compel insurers to raise premiums.

Here's what that junk bill was actually about:


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