Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Representative Ron DeSantis of Florida have introduced the text of the ‘If You Like It You Can Keep It Act,’ designed to enable Americans who currently hold health-care plans to maintain them past January 1, when most of the Affordable Care Act’s new mandates kick in. In order to do so, it makes every plan people hold through December 31, 2013, a “grandfathered” plan, exempt from the new mandates. The original bill does have “grandfathered plans,” but that is restricted to plans that existed on the day the law was passed, March 23, 2010, and which haven’t had “material changes” to their structure. Unfortunately, as the January 1 deadline for the individual mandate approaches, millions of Americans have found out their plans have been cancelled — and insurance companies are rightly arguing that this is because their grandfather status can’t be maintained because of other issues come January 1.
DeSantis says that the House version of the bill already has the support of more than 30 members of the lower chamber. And at least the concept of Senator Johnson’s bill has already won a supporter across the aisle, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, who vowed today to introduce legislation to help people keep their health-care plans, claiming that she wanted plans to be preserved when she voted in favor of the president’s omnibus health-care law.
Representative DeSantis said in a statement today that “it is clear” the president’s promise about Americans’ keeping their health plans “was a reckless deception designed to facilitate the law’s passage against the will of the people.” Indeed, there was more than a little subterfuge involved: Technically the law as passed would protect plans that were in existence starting in 2010, but the Obama administration issued regulations that restricted how these grandfathered plans could change while still maintaining their exempt status — including restrictions on the way the financial structure of the plans could be changed that will make them essentially impossible to sustain.
Ironically, plans aren’t allowed to significantly increase various forms of cost-sharing, like co-pays and deductibles, despite the cost increases heaped on by other aspects of the ACA from which they’re not exempt, meaning that people will be dumped onto the exchanges — where they’ll likely face much more taxing cost-sharing measures. Under Landrieu’s and DeSantis’s plan, if people like their existing plans enough to pay slightly higher co-pays or deductibles, they can keep them.