Friday, November 15, 2013

Merkley Promised You Can Keep Your Insurance and Is Now Supporting Legislation to Reverse Cancellations

Senator Jeff Merkley is co-sponsoring legislation to allow policy holders to keep health plans cancelled by Obamacare regulations. Good for him.

About 150,000 Oregonians have had their policies cancelled. Four years ago Merkley promised that "those who like their insurance get to keep it."

Byron York points out that lots of people, including reporters knew this promise was bogus. But, they allowed the claim to be repeated and cemented in as a means to pass the bill in the one-sided (only Democrats), back door (reconciliation on an old bill) way.
All during the debate, Democratic officeholders, aides, policy wonks, advocates and sympathetic journalists all knew coverage cancellations would be coming as part of Obamacare. Of course, the president knew, too. When Obama made the keep-your-coverage promise, over and over, those Washington insiders accepted the untruth as a necessary part of the process, something Democrats had to do to pass their bill.
But millions of Americans didn't get the memo and took Obama at his word. And now that the promise has been proven false, the president is trying to recover his credibility — his desire to do so was painfully evident at his long and sometimes rambling news conference Thursday — and his party is searching for cover.
Oregonian reporter Jeff Mapes says Senator Jeff Merkley admitted he "failed to understand" the grandfathering provisions of the law when he voted for it.
In a telephone interview, Merkley said that he and other supporters of the 2010 law failed to understand that it didn't have strong enough "grandfather" provisions ensuring that people could keep policies that existed at the time.

"It was a significant failure to understand that the grandfathering had this flaw in it," said Merkley, "and now that it's recognized, we've got to fix it."

The senator added that "we just didn't fully understand" that during the three years before the new law went completely into effect, many people would migrate to other coverage or be forced off these grandfathered plans.
The Oregonian has no clear reporting on Merkley's position on President Obama's allowing extension of cancelled policies for a year, but national outlets indicate Merkley continues co-sponsoring legislation that attempts to fix, rather than delay, grandfathering failures.

Interesting that Senator Ron Wyden is not quoted as promising that Obamacare would allow people to keep their coverage and has not yet supported reversal of the cancellations. An article in the Statesman Journal says Wyden:
hasn't signed on to any of [the bills to fix Obamacare] yet. Spokesman Ken Willis said in an email Wyden is "looking at all proposals" but will wait to see if the federal exchange's technical problems are fixed by Nov. 30 as Obama has said. Wyden isn't up for re-election until 2016.
To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, knowing you will be up for re-election in a year concentrates the mind wonderfully. That has happened for Merkley, but Wyden, elected in 2012, has another 5 years to go.


MAX Redline said...

Yes, Merk's mind is keenly focused right now. One aside: Wyden would be up for re-election in 2018.

I do hope that no Repubs fall for the "fix" schemes; Democratics own this turkey completely. I'd prefer to keep it that way.

In any case, simply allowing insurance companies to extend the cancelled policies doesn't mean that they'll choose to do so, though some may (likely at higher cost).

There are challenges to the constitutionality of this law, and it'll be interesting to see how those pan out. It appears to violate the Origination clause, which mandates that all spending bills must originate in the House.

I need to buy stock in Orville Reddenbacher; we're gonna need a lot of popcorn.

T. D. said...

I wasn't clear on the election for Wyden's seat. Since it's now 2013, I meant five years from now not from his election in 2012.

I don't see how it will work either. The good news is the public is so incensed that Merkley has had to do something even in blue Oregon. Which, of course, puts both Harry Reid and Obama in a bad light.

Yep, Orville's sales should be doing great. :-)