Tea Party Republicans in the House often say that they are only concerned with protecting the people from the evils of Obamacare, but when Representative Rob Andrews (D-NJ) attempted to introduce an alternative to their bill, they refused to even allow a vote on it. There it is: the Tea Party brand of compromise.
Democrats would have included provisions that would require insurance companies to notify their customers of alternatives to renewing any non-compliant plans, including the opportunity to purchase a plan through an exchange. It would also require state insurance commissioners to examine the notices of cancellation and conversions to other policies and to investigate cases of inadequate notice. The bill would also include a provision requiring HHS or state commissioners to take action if they found rates to be unjustified or discriminatory.
Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), who introduced the Republican bill (which not only allows insurance companies to renew the policies in question, but also would allow them to be sold to new customers as well) objected to the “motion to recommit” offered by Andrews.
Andrews had argued that the Democratic proposal included additional safeguards to protect the consumer, but that they “[did] not rise to a difference in germaneness.”
Upton’s objection was based on the fact that the proposal offered by the Democrats contained consumer protections that did not pertain to the scope of his bill and therefore could not be considered under House rules.
The chair, Representative, Kevin Yoder (R-KS) then read those provisions and declared that they were not germane and therefore would not be considered:
“The amendment proposed in the motion to recommit in pertinent part requires state insurance commissioners to examine notices of health insurance cancellations or conversions. It also addresses the regulation of health insurance rates, specifically the amendment delineates what would constitute inadequate notice of cancellation or conversions of health insurance coverage and directs state insurance commissioners to investigate such cases of inadequate notice. Additionally, it permits the Secretary of Health and Human Services or the relevant state insurance regulator to take corrective actions if health insurance rates are determined to be excessive, unjustified, or discriminatory… The chair therefore finds that the amendment proposed in the motion to recommit goes beyond the subject matter of the underlying bill. The point of order is it is therefore not germane.“
The House went on to approve the bill 261-157, with 39 Democrats voting for it and 4 Republicans against it. The President has vowed to veto it if it should reach his desk in its current form, something that is unlikely to happen as the Senate is not likely to pass the bill as is.
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