President Obama's spokesman allowed that a House-passed bill to allow people to keep their health insurance might fix the problem of canceled policies, but he denounced the bill as a Republican attempt to "sabotage" Obamacare.
"While maybe fixing the problem potentially of those who receive cancellation letters, it also — by allowing insurers to sell new policies to new customers that don't meet the standards — is, deliberately or not, designed to undermine the Affordable Care Act in the long run," White House press secretary Jay Carney said of the bill offered by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.
He added that insurance companies wouldn't like the Upton proposal. "I think you would find, if you talk to insurers, that they would have serious problems with something like that because it would undercut the marketplace and it would create a situation that would be very hard to sustain," he said.
Thirty-nine Democrats voted for the Upton bill, which passed the House on a 261-157 vote.
Carney said Obama will "work with Congress" for a legislative fix. "[Obama] did yesterday what he could do administratively to address this problem," the press secretary told reporters. "What he won't do is support policies that are essentially designed to sabotage, undermine, [or] repeal the Affordable Care Act."
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., offered a proposal that Carney described more favorably than the Republican bill.
"I think that Sen. Landrieu’s proposal shares a similar goal to what the president has asked his team to explore," Carney told reporters Wednesday. "There may be ways to help some people with cancellation notices without legislation, but we are happy to work with her and any member of Congress who has ideas on how to make the Affordable Care Act better. So I think there is a distinction."
The Landrieu bill also damages Obamacare, according to the law's proponents. "This basically repeals the market reforms," Washington and Lee University professor Tim Jost, who has testified on behalf of Obamacare before Congress, told Talking Points Memo. "You're continuing to allow people to buy a defective product. Mechanically, it's very difficult and it denies people the community rating advantages that were the whole reason -- or one of the reasons -- for the law in the first place. ... So I think it would be significantly disruptive to the law's goals."