House GOP's Obamacare "Fix" Draws Nearly 40 Democrats

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 15 2013 1:51 PM

House GOP's Obamacare "Fix" Draws Nearly 40 Democrats

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Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) speaks to the press after a Republican conference meeting on November 13, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

As expected, House Republicans this afternoon easily passed their version of the you-can-keep-it health-care patch, a bill that would allow insurance companies to continue to sell existing plans that fall short of the new Obamacare requirements for another year.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The big difference between the Fred Upton-authored bill and the administrative fix President Obama announced Thursday is that the president's plan would allow the companies to keep offering the plans in question only to those consumers who already had them, while the GOP bill would allow the companies to sell those plans to both existing and new customers. That distinction means the Upton bill goes beyond addressing Obama's (largely empty) promise that "if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan" to something closer to "if you like anyone's health care plan, you can go out and buy it."

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The proposal would gut one of Obamacare's main provisions, but is unlikely to see the light of day in the Senate. Even if it does, it faces a near-certain veto from the White House. The thing to note from this afternoon's vote was the number of Democrats who broke ranks with their party to back Upton's fix: 39 in all. [You can find the full roll call vote here.]

Democratic leaders did their best to keep the defections at a minimum, but in the end weren't able to keep more than three dozen of their colleagues—most, if not all, of whom hail from swing districts—from voting in favor of the Republican bill. That hands the GOP the always-coveted "bipartisan" talking point moving forward.

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This post has been updated.