WASHINGTON — Sen. Mary Landrieu will file legislation Thursday to “fix” the Affordable Care Act so people having their current health insurance plans canceled for failing to comply with the law can keep them if they so choose.
President Barack Obama has said people who like their current insurance will be able to keep it. A few million people nationwide who obtained insurance independently may have their current plans cancelled because the coverage isn’t enough to meet the law’s minimum standards.
In 2009, as the legislation was debated, Landrieu, D-La., called it “accurate” that people could keep their current insurance and, on Tuesday, she reportedly noted that it applied just to keeping “good insurance” plans.
Landrieu’s new bill is the “Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise” and will grandfather all existing insurance plans that do not meet the “Obamacare” coverage standards. Those affected would be notified on how their plans fall short of the standards, but they can still keep those plans.
“That promise was made and it should be kept. It was our understanding when we voted for that bill that people who had insurance could keep what they had. So, I’m going to be working on that fix,” Landrieu said.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., filed similar legislation Wednesday.
In the House, Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, were among the initial cosponsors of the “Keep Your Health Plan Act” filed Monday by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.
“Having said that … some of those plans did not have the best value,” Landrieu added. “Some of them are expensive without a lot of coverage because that was the only thing that was available. It was something, but it wasn’t ideal.”
Landrieu said she does not believe Obama intentionally misled people.
She also criticized Republicans for not helping to improve the law.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has refused to accept the Medicaid expansion in Louisiana or to set up a state-run health insurance exchange.
“If we had spent the last three years giving as much attention to fixing and tweaking and changing things, that would’ve really made this work more smoothly. We’d all be better off,” Landrieu said. “But … we had to spend the last three years debating, after the bill was passed, after the bill was signed, after the Supreme Court held it up, a whole group of people up here trying to throw it out and a whole group of people at home, including Gov. Jindal and his team, thwarting its rollout.”
The Louisiana Department of Insurance has reached out to insurance companies and is trying to determine how many policy cancellations are occurring within the state. The department is hoping to have more information next week, according to spokeswoman Judy Wright.
Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., proposed a resolution to express disapproval with the grandfathered insurance plan issues in 2010, but it was defeated on a party-line vote on whether to consider the resolution with Landrieu in opposition.
When asked about Republicans using her stance against her amid accusations that she “broke her promise” to people getting insurance cancellation notices, Landrieu said, “These guys will make up anything — always have, and I’ve beat them every time, and I intend to do it again.”
Landrieu is up for re-election next year with Cassidy as her best-funded opponent.
Cassidy was among the members of Congress who grilled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the problematic Obamacare rollout on Wednesday during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing.
Cassidy cited one constituent who, he said, told him that she was losing her coverage and does not qualify for a federal subsidy for more affordable insurance through the exchanges. As such, Cassidy said, she is looking at paying close to $10,000 a year for health insurance.
“She feels betrayed by her government,” Cassidy said.
“Do you think it’s fair?” he asked Sebelius.
She said the goal of the individual mandate is to get enough “young and healthy Americans” to sign up for insurance in the exchanges to bring down rates for the more costly policyholders.
Scalise cited a constituent named “Shawn” who he said is losing his current health insurance plan for not meeting the Affordable Care Act standards.
“There are thousands and millions of Shawns throughout this country that lost the plan they liked because some bureaucrat in Washington said, ‘We think your plan’s not good enough — even though you like it — even though you were promised you could keep it. You are now not able to keep that plan,’” Scalise told Sebelius.