Two Florida Republicans are taking a leading role behind Wisconsin Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnsons push to keep Americans enrolled in their health care plans instead of losing their coverage in the aftermath of President Barack Obamas federal health-care law.
Johnson introduced the If You Like Your Health Care Plan You Can Keep It Act this week with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., at his side. Rubio is co-sponsoring the bill while DeSantis is introducing the measure in the House.
The president said over and over that if Americans liked their insurance plans they could keep them, Johnson said on Wednesday. We now know this is not true. More than 2 million people have been told that the coverage they chose is no longer available.
This is wrong, Johnson added. The president made a commitment to the American people. His own administration forecasts that 40-to-67 percent of people with individual policies will not, in fact, get to keep their plans. That's unacceptable.My bill adds flexibility to the standards for policies under Obamacare and gives Americans the freedom to keep their plans if they so choose."
DeSantis, a freshman, ripped into Obama for guaranteeing that Americans could keep their health care under his law and failing to keep that promise.
The president repeatedly guaranteed Americans that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Now that millions of Americans are seeing their policies canceled due to Obamacare, it is clear that this was a reckless deception designed to facilitate the laws passage against the will of the people, DeSantis insisted.
Rubio weighed in on the matter appearing on Greta Van Susterens show on Fox News on Wednesday night.
If you have existing coverage and you are happy with it, you are going to get to keep it, Rubio explained about the legislation Johnson and DeSantis introduced. That was a fundamental promise that was made in order to get this law passed, and now thats being broken. Were seeing that it wasnt an unintended consequence, it was an intended consequence. This was done on purpose because they want to undermine and gut the individual marketplace.
I think people should be able to choose whatever policy makes sense for them, Rubio added. Again, if you passed the law that were talking about, which says that no one who has existing coverage theyre happy with will lose it -- If you pass that bill, it doesnt prohibit anyone from getting a better plan. It just says if you have a plan that you are happy with, you should be allowed to keep it. The president himself made that promise, and now that promise is being broken.
In the meantime, a similar bill is being introduced in the Senate by an unlikely sponsor -- U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. Landrieu, who is a top target for Republicans in 2014, insisted her bill, which she introduced Thursday, offers more consumer disclosures than Johnsons.
Speaking in Boston on Wednesday, Obama continually cited former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, his Republican opponent in the 2012 presidential election, as one of the architects of the state health care law he based the federal law on. Obama referenced Romney almost as much as he did the Boston Red Sox who won the World Series on Wednesday night. But, having insisted repeatedly that no Americans would lose their health care insurance under his law, Obama changed his tune.
Now, it is also true that some Americans who have health insurance plans that they bought on their own through the old individual market are getting notices from their insurance companies suggesting that somehow, because of the Affordable Care Act, they may be losing their existing health insurance plan, Obama said. This has been the latest flurry in the news. Because there's been a lot of confusion and misinformation about this, I want to explain just what's going on.
Obama blamed bad-apple insurers who had cut-rate plans that dont offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident though he had admitted fewer than 5 percent of Americans" would lose their coverage.
Before the Affordable Care Act, the worst of these plans routinely dropped thousands of Americans every single year, Obama said. And on average, premiums for folks who stayed in their plans for more than a year shot up about 15 percent a year. This wasnt just bad for those folks who had these policies, it was bad for all of us -- because, again, when tragedy strikes and folks cant pay their medical bills, everybody else picks up the tab.
But Obama doubled down on his promise that Americans who like their health insurance can keep it.
If you had one of these substandard plans before the Affordable Care Act became law and you really liked that plan, youre able to keep it, Obama said. Thats what I said when I was running for office. That was part of the promise we made. But ever since the law was passed, if insurers decided to downgrade or cancel these substandard plans, what we said under the law is you've got to replace them with quality, comprehensive coverage -- because that, too, was a central premise of the Affordable Care Act from the very beginning.
And today, that promise means that every plan in the marketplace covers a core set of minimum benefits, like maternity care, and preventive care, and mental health care, and prescription drug benefits, and hospitalization, Obama insisted. So if youre getting one of these letters, just shop around in the new marketplace. Thats what its for. Because of the tax credits that were offering and the competition between insurers, most people are going to be able to get better, comprehensive health care plans for the same price or even cheaper than projected. Youre going to get a better deal.
Now, theres a fraction of Americans with higher incomes who will pay more on the front end for better insurance with better benefits and protections like the Patients Bill of Rights, Obama added. And that will actually save them from financial ruin if they get sick. But nobody is losing their right to health care coverage. And no insurance company will ever be able to deny you coverage, or drop you as a customer altogether. Those days are over. And thats the truth. That is the truth.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.