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November 14, 2013 12:02 PM Obama Heads For Middle Ground on Obamacare “Fix”

By Ed Kilgore

Well, I was waiting until the President’s scheduled 11:35 EST presser to write about this, but apparently it’s running late. So let’s go with Janet Hook’s description of his proposal to deal with the insurance cancellation issue by an administrative “fix:”

The Obama plan, which the official said could be implemented without passing legislation, would allow insurance companies to extend “substandard” plans in 2014 only if they are already in existence. Unlike the House bill, the administration plan wouldn’t allow insurance companies to offer such plans to new customers.
The policy also would require insurance companies, if they extend such policies, to notify these customers that alternative policies might be available under the government insurance exchange and to tell them what benefits they wouldn’t be getting if they remained with their current plans.

So the proposal would avoid the Upton bill’s opening up of a whole new individual insurance marketplace outside Obamacare (and presumably aimed at “young invincibles” who don’t have insurance at all right now), while picking up the Landrieu bill’s disclosure requirements, designed to make sure insurers participate in informing customers their policies are crummy.

As a damage mitigation effort, it’s not bad, and the timing is good, since it will presumably be turned into an amendment that House Democrats can vote for when the Upton bill comes up tomorrow. We’ll see if Obama offers any details Hook missed out on, and also whether Democrats, including the senators supporting Landrieu’s bill, come along.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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