WASHINGTON -- The White House on Tuesday dismissed a Republican bill making its way through the House that would allow health insurance companies canceling existing plans to keep offering them for a year.
"We see that as throwing the baby out with the bath water," White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his daily briefing, when asked about the bill. The GOP measure is "not an effective fix," he continued, and "would cause more problems and create more problems and do more harm."
The "Keep Your Health Plan Act," authored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), comes as a response to health insurance carriers canceling some of their policies because of Obamacare. Republicans have been rallying behind the bill as President Barack Obama takes heat for going back on his promise that people could choose to keep their existing health plans. The reality is that tens of millions could lose their individual insurance plans because of Obamacare, though the idea is that they would up with better plans.
The president apologized last week to those who may be unexpectedly losing their plans, but insisted that Obamacare maintains the status quo as much as possible while strengthening the kind of coverage people can get.
It's not just Republicans pushing to let people keep their old health plans. Some House Democrats are expected to support the GOP bill when it gets a vote later this week, and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a moderate up for reelection in 2014, has a proposal that goes further than Upton's legislation. It would require insurance companies to continue offering existing plans for a year. Neither bill is likely to get far for now. But if the administration doesn't resolve problems with the Obamacare enrollment website, HealthCare.gov, by the end of the month, Democrats will be under increasing pressure to do something to change the law.
The administration, meanwhile, is working feverishly to come up with its own solution to the fact that millions of people are getting surprise notices in the mail about losing their individual plans.
"We haven't announced any potential fixes or improvements we might be able to make," Carney said. "But the president ... is very interested in trying to address this problem and looks forward to being presented with an opportunity that he might be able to pursue."
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