The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

November 16, 2013

A lot at stake

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

“It forces thousands to lose the plans they love and the doctors they know,” says the 30-second spot running on television and radio in Rahall’s West Virginia district.

Barber also voted for the Republican bill. He said he believes that eventually, people will be able to keep the plans they want and the government’s troubled health care website will be fixed.

“If that gets resolved satisfactorily, I think it will be less of an issue than it is today. That’s why you have to take the long view,” said Barber.

Though Democrats opposed the House GOP bill 153-39, the vote was evidence of the pressure they feel over canceled policies.

The health care law let insurers cancel some existing coverage that lacked the improved features now required. More than 4 million policyholders have received termination letters from their carriers, according to an Associated Press tally.

Feeling public heat, Obama on Thursday took administrative action to let insurers continue current plans for a year. He took the blame for the confusion, saying, “That’s on me,” not congressional Democrats. House Democratic leaders told reporters later that day that they had nothing to apologize for.

Even so, most House Democrats felt Obama’s action was not enough and demanded a vote on a Democratic proposal.

“They want to be on record,” said Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa. “Members are not judged by administrative fixes. Members are judged by their voting records.”

Top Democrats finally proposed their own plan. But that was not until rank-and-file lawmakers threatened to back the GOP bill, which Democrats said would weaken the law because it would let insurers issue new substandard policies, not just renew old ones.

A similar dynamic is in play in the Senate.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., backed by colleagues who like her face competitive re-elections next year, has proposed legislation requiring insurers to renew policies canceled because of the law.

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