Last week, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced the “Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act” that acknowledges Obamacare’s responsibility for the nearly 5 million cancelled policies and the millions more to come. The goofy name aside, it aims to edit the “grandfather clause” to force insurance companies to offer coverages that have since been made illegal. Democrats are beginning to grasp the severity of how many people are being negatively affected by Obamacare, and they are scrambling to do damage control before the midterm elections. Unfortunately, they’re trying to fix the problem with more mandates rather than reducing regulation. â€¨
Currently, it is nearly impossible for plans to maintain their grandfathered status, namely because it’s up to “regulatory guidance” (bureaucrats) to determine which plans qualify. Additionally, most changes to a healthcare plan, no matter how minuscule, will result in loss of grandfathered status. And even completely unchanged plans will still have to comply with the Obamacare mandates like covering children until they’re 26, or elimination of preexisting condition exclusions.
The “grandfather clause” was written so strictly with the intention of plans losing their grandfathered status, in effect forcing people to buy new coverage that is compliant with Obamacare’s regulations. These new plans are much more costly, not only because they cover a bunch of junk that you may not want or need, but for the purpose of subsidizing everyone else. Everybody has to “pay their fair share.” That’s the only way Obamacare can work.
Like all members of Congress, Landrieu has been flooded with constituent phone calls and letters demanding to know why their plans were cancelled. It is estimated that 80,000 Louisiana residents will lose their health insurance because their plans don’t meet Obamacare’s overly burdensome requirements. Facing a tough reelection in a red state, Landrieu is pushing to halt the cancellation letters plaguing Louisiana.
Ironically, in 2010 Republicans brought forth a resolution to block the strict language of the grandfather clause, but Landrieu and her Democratic colleagues voted it down. This resolution would have maintained current plans’ grandfathered status, allowing individuals who liked their plan to keep it. Now Landrieu is feeling the heat for her vote, and she’s trying to make good on broken promises before she faces re-election next November.
Republicans introduced a similar bill in the House, allowing health insurance providers to continue offering coverage that was in effect as of January 1, 2013 for another year. But unlike Landrieu’s version, it has no mandates. Instead of forcing insurance companies to provide old plans, the Republican bill just removes ACA impediments so insurance companies can reinstate the plans they were forced to cancel. The House bill has a better chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate. It affords individuals more time to re-purchase their old insurance before the penalty hits without dismantling the law, something Democrats would never stomach. Although the bill isn’t a permanent solution, it’s a good start and will open the door to more comprehensive reform.