“I haven’t seen so much panic on this floor since 9/11,” Democratic representative Jim McDermott said on the House floor on Friday. In an effort to dissuade support for the Upton bill, he (incorrectly) accused Republicans of supporting ”socialism” by proposing that the federal government ”require” companies to offer previously canceled plans.
“I thought Republicans believe in the free-enterprise system,” McDermott said on the House floor minutes before the vote. “This is socialism. This is government saying to insurance companies, you must sell an insurance policy to somebody next year that you sold to them this year. When did we shift on the Republican side to the Congress telling an insurance company who they have to sell an insurance policy to or what’s in the policy?”
As soon as McDermott wrapped up his remarks, Upton informed his colleague that the bill does not, in fact, require companies to renew those policies, it merely allows them to. Moreover, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 more or less requires what McDermott described, by guaranteeing that insurance companies do have to offer customers the ability to renew their policy each year; the Affordable Care Act will essentially override that, unless Upton’s bill passes.
The congressman then later pilloried the free-enterprise system he had just tried to laud, saying it amounts to “lions eating antelopes.”