In response to the recent uproar over Affordable Care Act cancelations, affecting between 1% and 3% of the population, House Republicans rallied behind Rep. Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) “Keep Your Health Plan Act.” It’s a pretty horrible idea, which GOP leaders admitted is intended to further sabotage the federal health care system, but which was sure to pass anyway.
The drama was over what House Democrats would do about it. They wanted to vote for **something**, and were reluctant to reject Upton’s measure if it was the only game in town. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said on Wednesday, “I think the Upton bill is terrible, but we need something else to vote for in order to keep our word to the American people.”
So, how’d it go?
The House easily passed Republican legislation on Friday allowing insurers to keep offering old insurance plans for another year in response to President Barack Obama’s broken “if you like it, you can keep it” promise.The bill passed 261-157 with all but four Republicans joined by 39 Democrats backing the bill sponsored by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.
The bill was also opposed by four House Republicans, who apparently didn’t think it was conservative enough.
It’s a subjective question, of course, as to whether 39 is a lot, but it should be tough for anti-healthcare forces to raise too big a fuss about these Democratic defections. As of Wednesday, there were rumors as many as 100 panicky House Dems would break ranks and support this bill. Indeed, just last night, Upton told Fox he expected to have 50 Democratic votes today.
Sure, 39 is probably more than Democratic leaders would have liked, but since it’s about the same number of Dems who voted against the Affordable Care Act in the first place (34), it’s tough to get too worked up over the number.
As for what happens now, the bill will go to the Senate, where it will meet the same fate as most bills celebrated by conservatives: into Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s circular file. There are, to be sure, plenty of Senate Democrats willing to give “Obamacare” a little touch-up, especially as it relates to those adversely affected in individual, non-group markets, but there’s broad agreement within the party that Upton’s bill is awful (because it really is).
And even if the House GOP bill were to somehow get past the Senate, President Obama has vowed to veto it anyway.
Given all of this, what was the point of all of this effort? It boils down to Republican “messaging” goals, which some party leaders consider more important than anything else.
* Update: Also note, House Dems proposed an amended version of the Upton bill, which Republicans rejected, citing its excessive consumer protections.