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Senators Warner and Chambliss (R-Ga.) film a segment for Parker Spitzer in the Russell Building Rotunda in DC.
Sen. Mark Warner
A handful of Senate Democrats, including some running for re-election this year in tough races, are proposing Obamacare fixes that would add another category of high deductible/low premium plans and expand tax credits for small businesses purchasing health insurance for their employees.
Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, as well as Sen. Angus King (I., Maine), plan to introduce as soon as Thursday a set of principles and legislation aimed at strengthening the health law, according to lawmakers and Senate Democratic aides.

"I've always been a believer that the law was not perfect, but you should continue to work to improve it," Mr. Begich said in an interview Wednesday. "People are seeing that as it's implemented, there are tweaks you need to do and there's just nothing wrong with that."

That's smart politics for those running this year, though the exact outlines of their proposals could make it not so great as policy. Their proposed "copper" plan might not be able to actually meet the minimum standards the law requires and still be affordable, and there already is a catastrophic option available for younger people. But in terms of pushing for the law to be retained and improved—that's what the polls having been telling us for months and months that they want.

That said, the proposals are unlikely to see Senate action. Doing so would provide too much of an opening for Republican mischief, and they'd never let any bill that actually improves the law pass. Nor would it get even a hearing in the Republican House. There will be an opportunity, eventually, for improvements to the law. It's not going to be this year.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 09:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Virginia Kos, Louisiana Kossacks, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 09:42:31 AM PDT

  •  running for/with cover (7+ / 0-)
    That said, the proposals are unlikely to see Senate action. Doing so would provide too much of an opening for Republican mischief, and they'd never let any bill that actually improves the law pass. Nor would it get even a hearing in the Republican House. There will be an opportunity, eventually, for improvements to the law. It's not going to be this year.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 09:44:30 AM PDT

  •  GOP fixes......crickets....All In on Repeal Baby!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, JML9999, Calamity Jean
  •  Rick Weiland, Democrat running in South Dakota (18+ / 0-)

    is also proposing an Obamacare fix -- Medicare for everyone.

  •  Fix has a negative conotation (10+ / 0-)

    and should not be used here or  by democrats in talking about the ACA ever. In this context, the only words we should be using are improvements and enhancements.

    The republicans all are very happy when democrats talk about "fixing" the law because then they can say the law is broken, why give them that opportunity?

  •  When you are richer than Gawd, like you know (0+ / 0-)

    MARK WARNER, a high deductible doesn't discourage you from receiving healthcare.

  •  Baghdad Bob (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annecros, WisVoter, AlexDrew

    The new Republican talking point I saw on Politico today is to call Kathleen Sebelius the "Baghdad Bob of Health Insurance" saying "All we know for sure is that whatever Sebelius says today may not be operative tomorrow."

    That was from Rich Lowry's column this morning on Politico.

    I expect to see more of this type of stuff as the year goes on. Heaven help us if the cost goes up significantly next year on the state exchanges as has been speculated recently in the news.

    There are enough people out there who don't pay close attention that see headlines like this mocking HHS and Obamacare that the meme seems to always take hold that everyone involved is incompetent.

    When does the message ever get out about what is really going on in the real world?

  •  Speaking of rotten centrism FDL informs me that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChuckChuckerson

    they are fighting the increased Medicare means testing in Obama's budget.

    Message to Democrats, I do so vote on this issue.  Proposals to make the middle class poor, just don't cut it for me.  And as always, I would so like to know just who among the public out here in the hinterland is just clamoring to have Medicare premiums increased?  I mean I can't think of a Republican I know who wants their Medicare premium increased let alone a Democrat.

    If you want to run on increasing Medicare premiums, Democrats, you deserve to lose the House and Senate in 2014.

  •  #1 suggestion: make Medicaid expansion mandatory (7+ / 0-)

    The Roberts Court 'holding' on this was BS, but saying that won't get people what they need. If we're talking about changing the law, tie all future Medicaid funding to expansion, no more opt-out.

  •  these proposals sound terrible (0+ / 0-)

    The only logic I can see is centrist compromise between ACA and the Republican HSA "plan".

    I supposed they think they'll be rewarded for being half-Republican?

  •  Virginia isn't a Red State (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, ebirch1

    It is purple and some may argue now Blue.

    President Obama, January 9, 2012: "Change is hard, but it is possible. I've Seen it. I've Lived it."

    by Drdemocrat on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 11:21:46 AM PDT

  •  Obamacare certainly needs fixes (4+ / 0-)

    I'm not eligible for subsidies, yet every plan available is unaffordable. The least expensive plan I can get is a bronze level plan at $158 a month. This would make me choose between rent, food, utilities, student loans, and healthcare. I'm already living paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford the extra burden of a healthcare plan that I cannot use. Subsidies should be determined by living expenses, not some arbitrary poverty line which should be raised anyways.

    •  So, if you use up all your pay on living expenses (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChuckChuckerson, AlexDrew

      you get a subsidy?  Do you see the problem with that?  

      President Obama was chiding people who didn't sign up for ACA a few weeks back, saying they should drop cable or cell phone plans.

      No one way to do means testing is perfect.  Means testing by income has lots of loopholes, for instance.  Two parents can be living in the same household with their kids, but if they are not legally married, they may both be eligible for subsidies - whereas if they were married, they probably wouldn't.

      This is one of my main gripes about ACA.  I have always felt we should be taxed 1% out of payroll (everyone!) which would go into a catastrophic fund.  Then you can sign up for a cheap plan that doesn't pay for much basics, but you would know any catastrophic illness is paid out of the fund.

  •  I have no problems with sensible changes that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisVoter

    will improve a law. In fact, I'd like to improve Obamacare until it becomes the Single Payer Option.

    "Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by Gentle Giant on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 11:43:53 AM PDT

  •  High deductible/low premium (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, mbradshawlong

    It's the high deductible that folks who live paycheck to paycheck have a problem with. I very nearly live that way, and it's easier to try to budget the premium by cutting back somewhere else, than it is to save $5,000 for a deductible. If I had to pay even $2k out-of-pocket first before anything kicked in, I'd be screwed.

    •  This is true for many, but I'm the exact opposite (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, Hooch

      In our case, as an upper-middle class household who are self-employed, we are the exact opposite.  It frustrates me to send a significant amount of money each month (we don't qualify for subsidies) to an insurance company. We have a significant 'emergency fund' of savings, so we would be perfectly happy to have a much higher deductible with a lower monthly premium.  10k-20k out of pocket wouldn't kill us. It would be a financial hit, but we would be able to recover.  Of course, going without insurance could be financial devastating with a major illness, so we are buying a bronze plan with the highest deductible allowed and lowest premium.  

      We also chose our state's new non-profit cooperative plan. Since it is a non-profit, I am a little less annoyed by my money going to the shared pool.  I would have been furious if it hadn't been an option and I would have been forced (like many in other states) to have higher monthly premiums going to a for-profit, private insurance company. I still want a public option, expanded medicaid/medicare for all or some sort of single-payer system.  

  •  6 Million Signups Just Announced via Brainwrap (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisVoter, Calamity Jean
  •  That's not a "fix", unless... (0+ / 0-)

    If someone can pick a low cost/high deductible plan and then switch to a comprehensive plan if/when they contract a chronic, high cost condition (like diabetes or MS, for example), then they are just shirking the responsibility and polluting the risk pool.

    The only way that fix "works" is if someone in that high deductible plan is forced to stay on that plan in perpetuity (or else, bring back the preexisting conditions" situation that was so horrendous in our past.  

    Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. -- John Lennon

    by gdalpert on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 11:57:04 AM PDT

  •  scary.. (0+ / 0-)

    Asking this Congress to fix anything, is like asking for the plague. Sounds like Dems running away from the ACA. I wonder if the states represented by these Democrats are participating.

  •  smart move (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AlexDrew

    playing offense for a change

    All I want is the truth. Just gimmie some truth John Lennon

    by gimmie truth on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 12:25:40 PM PDT

  •  It definitely needs improving in some ways. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sotiredofusernames

    1. The family glitch as it is known. (google it). Basically to meet the affordable benchmark the premiums you pay an employer plan can't exceed 9 1/2 % of your income. The ridiculous part (and from what i read it was to prevent people leaving employee plans in droves) the 9 1/2 % is based on the premium of the employee only not the premium that includes the family. Eg. If the premium for the employee to cover ONLY themselves is $50.00 but they want family coverage which will be $150 (always disproportionately higher even if for only 1 other) the 9.5 % is based inn the $50.00 !! Not the $150.
    2. A spouse should be able to decide for any reason not to join the Employee plan. Now if the a spouse wants out they are not allowed to (and still get the subsidies) if the Employer overs coverage at all.
    This is preventing me from opting out even though my wife's plan is drastically changing so it no longer includes a copay for a service I have been using regularly.
    I am appealing this but there is absolutely NO ONE that can answer questions about appeals. (google it). So during my wife's open enrollment I will sign up with her and wait to see if the appeal is successful (the site says up to 90 days but no one really knows) I will then drop her insurance. Healthcare. gov says as long as I did an application I will be able to actually enroll after  March 31st.
    Don't get me wrong I am all for this ACA (short of the civilized single payer) it just needs some things fixed.
    peace.

    I will never understand why most people who have more can't just leave it at that. Nope Instead most of them make it their mission in life to see to it that the others get less and less.

    by Canadian Green Card Alien on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 12:29:07 PM PDT

  •  someone suggested we call these "pyrite" plans (0+ / 0-)

    they are nothing more than pandering to the insurance industry and provide coverage that could only be characterized as "underinsurance". See the always great "quote of the day"

  •  A suggestion (2+ / 0-)

    instead of a "copper" plan, which would just be perceived as "Obamacare lite" try federally expanding medicaid. In other words, quit giving in to Republicans and thinking you will defuse them, if you think you have to admit to their arguments then honestly address them. Intelligence and morality - two of the five tools - is the way to the third. (public support)

  •  slight objection (0+ / 0-)

    Mark Warner is not a "red state" Democrat

    Might I remind you that the Democrats have won the last 5 statewide elections in Virginia -

    in 2012, President Obama and Sen. Tim Kaine carried the state.

    Last November the Dems swept the Governor's race, the Lt Gov's race, and AG race.

    Yes, the Republicans hold the very gerrymandered House of Delegates, and 8 of 11 House seats, again by gerrymandering.

    But that at worst makes Virginia a purple state, but one trending increasingly Blue, at least statewide.

    "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

    by teacherken on Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 04:07:21 PM PDT

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