House Dems To Offer Alternative To GOP’s Obamacare ‘Fix’

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House Democrats intend to offer an alternative to the GOP’s Obamacare “fix” on Friday that closely mirrors the administrative action President Barack Obama announced Thursday.

Democratic leadership is terming the bill “Landrieu-Lite” — claiming it’s a more modest version of the Senate bill authored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) — and bringing it up as a “motion to recommit,” one of the very few procedural options available to the House minority to force votes.

These sorts of motions virtually never pass, so the aim here appears to be to give skittish Democrats political cover to vote against the Republican legislation. By naming it after a red state senator, leadership seems to be hoping vulnerable members come on board.

The text of the bill was not available Friday morning, but here’s how a top Democratic leadership aide explained the “Landrieu-Lite” alternative:

In the case of health plans in effect for individuals as of October 1, 2013, insurers can continue such coverage for those individuals for 2014;

Requiring insurance companies to notify individuals of options available in the health insurance marketplace, premium and cost assistance available in the marketplace, and consumer protections not provided under existing plans;

The HHS Secretary and the State Commissioners have the authority to go after bad actor insurance companies and take corrective measures against excessive, unjustified, unfair, and discriminatory rates.

In further describing the first provision, the leadership aide said it would allow insurers to renew existing plans for up to one year, like the Obama “fix” does. The Landrieu plan, in contrast, mandates that renewals be allowed — and permanently.

The second provision also mirrors part of Obama’s own “fix” enacted administratively on Thursday. The third provision is an addition that doesn’t appear in Obama or Landrieu’s bill.

Unlike the Democrats’ alternatives, the GOP bill, offered by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), would let insurers sell existing plans to anybody, even new policy holders, in 2014.

“Like Landrieu, House Democrats’ proposal is targeted to those who have plans now instead of the harmful approach taken by Upton that instead allows insurers to sell substandard plans to millions of new enrollees throughout 2014,” the Democratic leadership aide said. “Additionally, this Democratic alternative includes authority to go after bad actor insurance companies.”

The aide stressed that the plan was “inherently different” from Obama’s and more like Landrieu’s because it was a legislative solution, rather than an administrative one.

A House GOP leadership aide mocked the Democrats’ proposal as “a fig leaf, and a sham that will prove about as effective as a $5 umbrella in a hurricane.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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