Vulnerable Senate Democrats backed rule responsible for insurance cancellations

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) declared last week that she had no idea that Obamacare would cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance coverage, breaking a promise made by President Obama and the Louisiana Democrat.

“[I]t was our understanding when we voted for that bill that people when they have insurance could keep with what they had,” Landrieu told Politico. “So I’m going to be working on that fix.”

But before this latest wrinkle in the unfolding Obamacare drama, Landrieu said, “If I had to vote for [Obamacare] again, I would vote for it tomorrow.” Though she denies it, her sudden pivot is reflective of her worries about winning re-election next year.

What’s more, Landrieu and other vulnerable Senate Democrats — including Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC) — have another very big problem. It turns out that they all backed the rule that led to the wave of insurance cancellations, as CNN reported late last week:

Senate Democrats voted unanimously three years ago to support the Obamacare rule that is largely responsible for some of the health insurance cancellation letters that are going out.

In September 2010, Senate Republicans brought a resolution to the floor to block implementation of the grandfather rule, warning that it would result in canceled policies and violate President Barack Obama’s promise that people could keep their insurance if they liked it.
Senate Democrats like Mary Landrieu, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan and Mark Begich – all of whom voted against stopping the rule from going into effect and have since supported delaying parts of Obamacare.

The rule set up the criteria for what insurance plans would be grandfathered, or exempted, from the new Obamacare requirements. Democrats argued then that the rule was necessary to insure that insurance companies weren’t able to drastically change their plans and still remain exempt from Obamacare.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) offered the resolution, S.J. Res. 39, that would have rejected the rule submitted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The rule made it virtually impossible for insurance companies to maintain a plan’s “grandfathered” status, which refers to any plans in effect before March 23, 2010.

The reason the rule was written so strictly was because the goal of the administration was to ensure that all health insurance plans would eventually be subject to the requirements and mandates, meaning that every American would have coverage that meets the approval of government bureaucrats and regulators.

“At least 47 separate times, President Obama promised ‘If you like what you have you can keep it.’ Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has already broken that promise,” said Enzi from the Senate floor in September 2010. “Earlier this year, the Administration published the regulation, which will fundamentally change the health insurance plans of millions of Americans.”

“Although the regulation was supposed to help existing health plans, and the businesses that provide them, avoid the most onerous new rules and red tape included in the new health care law, between 39 percent and 69 percent of businesses will lose their status as members of grandfathered health plans,” he noted. “The picture is even worse for small businesses – the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by 2013, up to 80 percent of small businesses will lose their grandfathered status.”

As CNN noted, the resolution failed in a party-line vote, 41 to 59. And again, Landrieu, Begich, Pryor, and Hagan voted in support of the rule that is causing Americans to lose their health insurance coverage, even if they were happy with it.

Avik Roy, a healthcare policy analyst at the Manhattan Institute, recently noted that the Obama Administration’s estimates translate to 93 million people who will lose and/or see a disruption their individual and group health insurance plans.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.