Upton: “The health law is like a Jenga game – the administration keeps yanking out pieces, and ultimately, nothing can keep it from collapsing.”

December 20, 2013

Holiday surprises have sadly become routine for the self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in history.” It is not surprising that as we approach the Christmas holiday, the administration is quietly announcing yet another major change to its signature health care law. Reuters reports, “The Obama administration made a major last-minute policy shift on Thursday, saying that the change would help Americans meet a looming deadline to replace insurance plans canceled because of new standards under Obamacare reforms.”

The administration knew for years that millions of Americans would lose their health care plans because of this law, but the president repeated his promise of, “If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan, period. … No matter what.” Now, just days before the already-delayed deadline to enroll in a plan for coverage beginning on January 1, it is attempting yet another desperate round of damage control.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) commented, “The health law is like a Jenga game – the administration keeps yanking out pieces, and ultimately nothing can keep it from collapsing. The administration knew for years that it could not keep its promise, but repeated it anyway. Now, just days before Christmas and yet another deadline, the administration is telling the millions of folks who were forced to lose plans the administration deemed ‘substandard’ that they can purchase catastrophic insurance after all. The administration keeps pulling the rug out from under Americans who are worried whether they will have health care come January 1. Sadly, we ask again, what’s next?”

These catastrophic plans often provide less coverage than the plans that the administration has forced out of the market, and those purchasing those plans are not eligible for a subsidy. Many will still be left with more expensive bills and less coverage. This latest delay and exemption does nothing to provide relief or peace of mind to the millions of American families hurt by the president’s broken promise. The Keep Your Health Plan Act, sponsored by Chairman Upton, would allow plans being sold on the individual market this year to be sold next year. This bill garnered broad bipartisan support, passing the House by a vote of 261 to 157, but received a veto threat from the administration.

Holiday and Friday afternoon announcements have become the norm for this White House trying to bury its failures and attempted fixes. Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) notes, “We asked Secretary Sebelius point blank what would be the next holiday surprise, and she was silent. Yet, here we are with another major policy shift. Less than two weeks from going live, the White House seems to be in full panic mode. No band-aid can heal the hemorrhaging this law has and will continue to cause. Rather than more White House delays, waivers, and exemptions, the administration should provide all Americans relief from its failed law."

Writing in The Washington Post Ezra Klein adds, “This puts the first crack in the individual mandate.” With Christmas and New Year’s fast approaching, #WhatsNext?

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