Pressure Mounting for Administrative Fix to Insurance Cancellations

The White House is trying to find a solution before proposed legislative fixes threaten to disrupt the health care law.

President Obama takes questions from the media in the East Room of the White House on June 29, 2011.
National Journal
Sophie Novack
Nov. 13, 2013, 3:51 a.m.

The White House is fa­cing grow­ing pres­sure from both sides to find a solu­tion to the plan can­cel­la­tions be­ing sent as a res­ult of the Af­ford­able Care Act.

Pres­id­ent Obama’s claim that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” has come un­der a great deal of fire lately, as in­di­vidu­als re­ceive can­cel­la­tion let­ters from in­surers that have changed their plans be­cause they don’t meet the law’s stand­ards. Of­fi­cials are at­tempt­ing to find a solu­tion to up­hold the pres­id­ent’s prom­ise without un­der­min­ing the law or adding un­real­ist­ic costs, The New York Times re­ports.

Yet this is easi­er said than done, and a num­ber of law­makers un­der polit­ic­al pres­sure are turn­ing to le­gis­la­tion that would re­quire can­celed plans to con­tin­ue. On Tues­day, Sen. Di­anne Fein­stein of Cali­for­nia be­came the fifth Sen­ate Demo­crat to form­ally sup­port a change to the health care law so that those who like their plan can keep it, The Hill re­ports. The sen­at­or said she would sup­port the Keep­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act Prom­ise Act, pro­posed by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. A sim­il­ar bill, sponsored by House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee Chair­man Fred Up­ton, R-Mich., would pre­vent the can­cel­la­tion of policies that don’t meet the heath law’s stand­ards. The House is set to vote on the bill Fri­day, and some Demo­crats are ex­pec­ted to sup­port it. House Demo­crat­ic lead­ers re­main united in op­pos­i­tion. 

The White House says that the Up­ton bill would un­der­mine the health care law. The Cen­ter on Budget and Policy Pri­or­it­ies, a non­par­tis­an policy think tank, re­leased a re­port Tues­day say­ing that the bill would have severe ad­verse ef­fects on the ACA. Ac­cord­ing to CBPP, Up­ton’s bill would un­der­mine in­sur­ance-mar­ket re­forms un­der the law and en­cour­age health­i­er in­di­vidu­als to re­main out­side the ex­changes, thereby rais­ing premi­um rates.

Former Pres­id­ent Clin­ton ad­ded fuel to the fire Tues­day, when he said in an in­ter­view with OZY.com that Obama should hon­or his prom­ise and let con­sumers keep their plans.

The is­sue isn’t that simple. There’s no easy fix to the can­cel­la­tions, and these trade-offs are ne­ces­sary to mak­ing health re­form work, The New Re­pub­lic ex­plains. Yet the frus­tra­tion will likely con­tin­ue build­ing un­til some kind of solu­tion is found. The White House has not yet an­nounced what an ad­min­is­trat­ive fix might look like, and it re­mains un­clear what one could be. 

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