House of Representatives passes Republican health Bill
Bill would allow customers to hold on to health insurance even if policies contravene Obamacare
Barack Obama: yesterday’s Bill goes further than the fix offered by the president on Thursday when he admitted his administration had “fumbled the rollout” of the biggest domestic achievement of his presidency. Photograph: Charles Dharapak/AP Photo
The US House of Representatives, defying a veto threat from President Obama, has passed a Bill allowing customers to hold onto their health insurance even if their policies contravene his new healthcare law.
At the end of a shambolic week for the president, the Republican-led proposal passed with 39 Democratic votes. The Bill goes further than the fix offered by Obama on Thursday when he admitted his administration had “fumbled the rollout” of the biggest domestic achievement of his presidency.
Mr Obama has offered a one-year reprieve to millions of Americans who risked losing their health insurance policies because they did not meet minimum conditions under the Affordable Care Act.
Since the introduction of the Act, known as Obamacare, insurers have written to customers telling them their insurance policies have been cancelled because they don’t meet the law’s requirements.
An estimated 3.6 million Americans received cancellation letters from their insurers since the Act, the source of bitter wrangling between Democrats and Republicans, came into effect on October 1st.
Republicans shut down the government for 16 days last month by refusing to pass a budget until the controversial law aimed at extending health insurance to tens of millions of Americans was revoked.
Beset by his worst ever poll ratings, Obama caved to pressure from angry consumers and Congressional leaders who accused him of breaking a promise that people could keep their insurance plans by allowing insurers to extend for 12 months existing policies that had been cancelled.
The move didn’t placate Republicans in the GOP-controlled House. They led a 261 to 157 vote passing the Keep Your Health Plan Act yesterday to allow for cancelled policies to be renewed.
“The president broke his word, had a chance to fix the problem and only did more damage to his credibility,” said the Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner.
The House made “a big, bipartisan statement about the need to make things right,” said Mr Boehner, who called again for the president’s “fundamentally flawed” healthcare law to be scrapped.
The Bill’s chances in the Democrat-controlled Senate are uncertain as Democrats facing re-election in the 2014 mid-term polls fear a backlash from consumers at risk of losing their insurance. Democrats had pushed Mr Obama for a law-change but many are waiting to see the effect of his one-year amnesty.
On Thursday the US president admitted the failure to roll out his signature healthcare law, passed in 2010, had “placed a burden on Democrats whether they are running for office or not”.
“We are letting them down and I don’t like that,” he said.