House OKs Cassidy’s ‘keep your plan’ bill

The House passed legislation Thursday to allow people to keep their insurance plans under ObamaCare even if the coverage doesn’t meet all of its requirements.

Twenty-five Democrats broke ranks to help pass the bill in the 247-167 vote, including Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Nick Rahall (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), who are among the most vulnerable incumbents running for reelection this year. The vote offered those Democrats an opportunity to distance themselves from the president on the still-controversial Affordable Care Act.

{mosads}The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a medical doctor who is campaigning to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in a closely watched race that could decide which party controls the Senate in 2015.

President Obama repeatedly said for years while urging Congress to pass healthcare reform, and once it was signed into law, that “If you like your plan, you can keep it.”

That turned out not to be the case on health insurance plans that do not meet all of the 10 minimum requirements, which include coverage of maternity care, prescription drugs, outpatient services and lab services.

Health insurance plans do not have to be fully compliant until 2015.

“This legislation is about keeping a promise and doing right by the American people,” Cassidy said. “Let’s keep the promise to middle class workers and ensure that if they like their healthcare plan, they can keep it.”

Cassidy further pointed to a Congressional Budget Office report this week that found that his bill would raise more than $1 billion in tax revenue over the next decade. According to the CBO report, the measure would reduce the deficit because the pool of taxable dollars would increase as employees spend less on healthcare premiums.

Democrats expressed frustration with the repeated votes — more than 50 at this point — in the House to repeal or undermine the healthcare law that have ultimately gone nowhere.

“This bill is nothing more than another political attack on the Affordable Care Act,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said the healthcare law’s requirements would ensure that Americans receive comprehensive coverage.

“Does anyone really believe that Americans want insurance companies to be able to deny them coverage or charge them more due to a pre-existing condition? Do they want insurance companies to be able to refuse to pay for their life-saving treatments because they’ve hit an annual limit?” Schakowsky asked. “I believe we can all agree the answer is no.”

The Obama administration issued a veto threat against the legislation, saying it would “roll back the progress made because of the Affordable Care Act and would allow insurers to deploy practices such as charging businesses more when a worker has a pre‑existing condition or when it has more workers who are women than men.”

The Democratic-controlled Senate is not expected to take up the measure.

— Sarah Ferris contributed.

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