President Barack Obama, accompanied by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., waves upon their arrival at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
For the last few weeks, Republicans have been full of schadenfreude over President Obama's broken "If you like your plan, you can keep it" promise.
Now, this issue is about to blow up in Republicans' faces.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who faces a tough re-election fight in a red state next year, has introduced a bill to address the president's broken promise through greater government control over the individual health insurance market. Her bill would obligate insurers to continue offering all the plans they offer today unless they entirely exit the health insurance business in a state.
What will Republicans do with this proposal? Do they really want a federal law that says health insurers can't enter or exit specific lines of business?
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has introduced a bill in the House that would allow insurers to continue offering plans that would have been prohibited under the Affordable Care Act, but his bill is vulnerable to the criticism that it will still lead to a raft of plan cancellations as insurers choose to discontinue plans because the ACA has changed the financial incentives they face.
If Congress really wants to make sure people can take their plans, it will need to use the heavy-handed Landrieu approach; the light-touch Upton approach won't work. Erick Erickson (of all people!) understands this; he wrote a piece this morning called " It's a trap ":
The House, with the help of a good number of Democrats, will pass the Upton plan and send it to the Senate. Harry Reid will substitute the Landrieu plan and send it back to the House. The House will be forced to either vote for the Landrieu plan or be characterized as siding with insurance companies against people.
In one fell swoop, the Democrats will have the GOP on record saving Mary Landrieu’s re-election in Louisiana by casting her as the one who saved Americans’ health care plans, and also getting on record as really being in favor of fixing Obamacare with the use of mandates.
Pretty much. And it's the comeuppance conservatives are getting for (1) having no health care agenda of their own and (2) endorsing the bizarre idea that health reform should not lead to health plan changes. With no health policy guidestar other than they're against what the president is for, Republicans are liable to walk into traps like demanding more health insurance regulation than the president wants.
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