The House GOP Is Pratfalling On ‘Keep Your Plan’

This morning the Republican leadership in the House held a press conference in support of Rep. Fred Upton’s bill that would reinstate the legality of “subeffective” individual insurance plans that Obamacare is blowing up.

Upton, and a few other members of the leadership, mistakenly said that his “Keep Your Plan” bill would “fix” the problem of the four million – and counting – people who are losing their health insurance thanks to the president’s mendacity.

Without making a call on whether the House ought to be passing a “Keep Your Plan” bill – there are arguments to be made on both sides of that issue – one thing Upton and the rest of Boehner’s team should NOT be doing is promising people they can fix the problem of lost insurance.

The cancellations of non-compliant insurance policies thanks to Obamacare have been in the works for couple of years now. Insurance companies have spent millions and millions of dollars attempting to adjust their offerings and infrastructure toward this new reality in which single men must be covered for maternity care and single women must be covered for prostate cancer.

Insurers can’t offer new policies without all of these government-mandated bells and whistles, and they’re limited in what they can charge in premiums for the old and the sick. It’s likely no longer economic to offer those catastrophic plans the Democrat establishment has been trying to disparage since the current controversy blew up in their faces.

Which means the damage is done, and you can’t keep your plan.

This isn’t the Republicans’ fault no matter what the Chuck Schumers and Debbie Wasserman Schultzes of the world try to say. But by promising to fix the problem by passing a bill – something Democrats are continuously guilty of, and always disappoint the public – they’re stepping on a rake.

Passing “Keep Your Plan,” even if Harry Reid allows a vote on it and Obama signs it, is not going to bring most of those policies back. It might bring some back, and in that case you’ll be doing some real good for people. But don’t promise that this bill will keep Obama’s promise, because you can’t. Not without an ever-more-intrusive legislative program aimed at forcing insurers to do business with people they can’t make money doing business with.

That’s something Democrats do. It’s not something Republicans should ever do.

And Upton’s bill doesn’t just attempt to reinstate policies for those who’ve lost insurance – it reinstates them for everybody, and makes them available for people who didn’t have insurance before. Doing that would make for an interesting situation in the insurance industry, as Allahpundit notes

That would be a disaster for the insurance industry. Healthy people would flee the new, more expensive plans for the resurrected cheaper ones, leaving no one in the new risk pool except sick people with very expensive treatments. That means either heavy losses for insurers, steep premium hikes next year to make up the difference, or some sort of federal bailout (congrats, red-state Democrats!) — or maybe a little of all three. You’ll have the same problem, though, albeit to a lesser extent, even if Upton’s bill is amended so that it applies only to people who’d been enrolled in a particular plan before it was cancelled. You can’t run a two-tiered healthy/sick insurance system. If the risk pools aren’t merged, replete with higher rates for the former, you can’t pay for the latter.

“Keep Your Plan” is a partial repeal of Obamacare, which is one reason it’s unlikely it would ever become law. That’s an argument in favor of the bill. But it’s NOT a panacea, and it shouldn’t be presented as one. Even though the politics of “Keep Your Plan” can be advantageous…

I understand why the GOP would back Upton’s bill. It’s a slam dunk politically, grinding Obama’s face in the consequences of his lie. This is the Democrats’ mess; Reid and the Senate can/will kill the bill if they like.

That’s true, but only to the extent that you don’t ride up on a white horse and claim you can make it all better. Because what happens then is the insurance industry says “Wait a minute – we’re not offering those plans anymore, because we can’t do that plus handle all the sickies you’re forcing us to cover. So no, those plans are gone.” And when that reality sets in, you’ve now restored Democrat credibility on the issue rather than forcing them to burn along with Obama.

To his credit, Eric Cantor said as much at today’s press conference. He was the only one to make clear that the House can’t undo the damage Obama has done.

The one unmistakenly good thing about this bill, however, is that it will drive a wedge through Democrat unity on Capitol Hill, because there was this last night…

Back to Allahpundit, who had a good take on this…

I can’t understand why House Democrats, aware of the adverse selection problem that’s lurking here — and the political humiliation for the White House — would sign on, unless they’ve already reached a point of such pure terror over the “if you like your plan” backlash that they’re willing to kneecap ObamaCare six weeks out of the gate. Did they … not understand that millions of people were going to face cancellations and higher premiums under the law’s redistributive scheme? Of course they did. Steny Hoyer, number two in the Democratic caucus admitted it on October 29th. Fast forward two weeks and here’s where Hoyer is now:

“I don’t know what I’m gonna do on the Upton bill,” the Maryland Democrat said at a Tuesday briefing with reporters when discussing legislation sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.

Hoyer noted that he was “inclined not to be for the Upton bill at this time,” but he emphasized that he was “not closed to the option,” and would “reserve judgment” until he had seen the legislative text, which is reportedly undergoing some tweaks.

“I agree that people who purchased their policies prior to [the law’s enactment date] ought to be able to keep their policies,” he said.

If he agrees that they should be able to keep their policies, why did he vote for ObamaCare?The whole point of the law is that healthy middle-class people shouldn’t be allowed to keep policies that have relatively low premiums. We need to gouge those suckers with higher premiums for new “comprehensive” plans so that we can pay for the preexisting conditions of the sick. It’s like voting for immigration reform and then feigning surprise in five years when the newly “secure” border hasn’t halted illegal immigration. It’s not supposed to do that. That’s something you tell the hoi polloi in order to give Congress enough cover to vote for it.

Fundamentally, the House GOP leadership is coming from a good place. They want to be the ones who came up with a way to mitigate the damage to the insurance market while damaging Obama’s credibility as a function of the lies he told to pass Obamacare. But the problem is that the only way you can fix the erosion of the market Obamacare is causing is to get Washington out of the way almost altogether and let states, and combinations of states, take over.

“Keep Your Plan” probably needs a provision in it which opens up health insurance to interstate sales, and directs how that would work as little as possible. Washington is the problem in health insurance, not the solution.

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