Healthcare

EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Johnson to Harry Reid: Let Americans keep their plans!

EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Johnson to Harry Reid: Let Americans keep their plans!

Millions of Americans have already lost their healthcare coverage due to the mandates imposed by the Affordable Care Act, and millions more stand to lose their insurance in the coming months as Obamacare takes full effect. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the Upton Bill (261-157) to allow insurance companies to continue offering health plans that existed before the new year. Meanwhile, as the House awaits the outcome of this legislation (the White House has formally threatened to veto it), Senator Ron Johnson has introduced a similar bill, one which the Republican from Wisconsin told Human Events will “limit the damage of Obamacare.”

Johnson filed his If You Like Your Health Care Plan You Can Keep It Act on October 30th along with 37 co-sponsors. “What my bill does,” he said, “is honor that promise that President Obama and all these Democrat Senate health members made, that if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it.”

Johnson describes his bill as more “narrowly focused” than the Upton Bill to “attract some of the Democratic support.” Johnson said his act “basically grandfathers every bill that’s in existence through the end of this year…and so really provides the freedom of choice that Americans deserve in healthcare.”

Johnson’s bill also expands coverage to plans from the date of the passage of the ACA to the end of this year, to “really open it up and create a true grandfather clause unlike the grandfather clause Obama did, but basically using the same language.”

Johnson said to prevent Democrats from accusing him of “overreach,” he did not include the portion of the Upton Bill which also says, “not only if you have a plan, you can keep it, but if a plan exists, other people can buy it.” Johnson says if his bill ever passes the floor, he would “certainly propose that as an amendment.”

Johnson says his bill covers all plans- individual market or group market, but he warns there are “no guarantees that we can actually salvage a lot of these individual plans that have already received cancellation notices or which have been paid through high-risk pools which are becoming obsolete because of Obamacare.”

Johnson acknowledges that his bill is “a long shot.”

“If Harry Reid brings up any one of these bills, chances are he’s more likely to bring up Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) bill,” Johnson said. Landrieu’s bill only covers individual policies, Johnson points out. “It does not cover group policies, and then it also is very demanding, forcing insurance carriers to continue to offer those plans. I would imagine that’s kind of an overreach. I don’t know whether Laundrieu’s Bill would be governable at all.”

Johnson says he has options in terms of attaching his bill to an amendment or “really any piece of legislation.” He acknowledges the implausibility of such a situation, however, because Harry Reid has been disallowing “virtually any amendments to be considered or voted on.”

Johnson keeps hopes for his bill alive by bearing in mind that with “every day that goes by, with each additional million Americans losing their healthcare coverage, losing their doctors, losing their access to treatments, the pressure will build on the Democrats to come to their senses and start supporting these types of legislation.”

“Congress must act swiftly and decisively,” Johnson said, “Because every day that goes by, we go past the point of no return for more plans. The sooner we actually act, the sooner we act to protect those plans .”

Johnson says the objections of Reid and fellow Democrats come about because the freedom of choice offered by Johnson’s bill and others like it is “totally contrary to the construct of Obamacare.” Johnson said no Democrats have signed up yet to support his bill, although he has “hand-delivered the bills to a number of Democrats who in the past have expressed some reasonable attitudes towards some bipartisan compromise.”

“We’ll just see as time goes by,” Johnson said. “This is just a really bad day for America and for American families.”

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