Everyone's a little confused, it seems, about this week's Obamacare changes. On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced an administrative fix that would allow Americans to keep their pre-existing health insurance plans for another year, even if those plans don't conform to the Affordable Care Act's requirements. A day later, the House approved a bill that does pretty much the exact same thing, except for one (pretty major) difference: it'll also allow insurers to sell those existing plans to new customers. Now, insurers are scratching their heads over how to proceed, and the GOP is taking the opportunity to rail on Obama, the ACA, and everything in between.
In Saturday's Republican address, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said that President Obama did "far more than just fumble the ball," saying that "so-called apology, was as phony as his fraudulent marketing of Obamacare."
"Sorry Mr. President, it didn't work. Millions of Americans are coming to realize that those are your tire tracks on their cancelled policies. It is also obvious that you didn't inadvertently misspeak when you promised Americans they can keep their doctors and health plans — and do it all at a lower cost," Sen. Ron Johnson said.
“We need long-term solutions to the Obamacare debacle, not short-term political fixes like those recently proposed by the President and Senate Democrats that simply will not work. Unfortunately, the implementation of Obamacare has progressed to a point where millions of cancelled plans cannot be reinstated," he added.
“Obamacare will not fix an imperfect health care system. It will cause more damage for far more people than any problems it will ever solve. Now is the time to start reversing that damage — before it’s too late,” Johnson warned.
A lot of the confusion currently embroiling the health law is to do with which insurance commissioners and insurers will go allow consumers to back to their old policies — and, if they do, whether they'll be allowed to raise the rates of the cancelled policies.
"It is unclear how, as a practical matter, the changes proposed today by the President can be put into effect," said Jim Donelon, president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. "In many states, cancellation notices have already gone out to policyholders and rates and plans have already been approved for 2014. Changing the rules through administrative action at this late date creates uncertainty and may not address the underlying issues."
It's already clear that a lot of U.S. states are worried about hopping on board before they figure out the details. While California, Colorado, Florida, South Carolina, Ohio and Oregon have all agreed to give a one-year extension to existing health-care plans, Washington, Vermont and Rhode Island have said they won't. Reuters reports another 16 other insurance departments, including Alabama, Michigan, and Virginia, that are still unsure of how to proceed.
"It's been non-stop since this whole thing started," said John Young, director of sales at Flexible Benefit Service Corp. "Everyone wants to know what effect the president's message will have and, at this point, we just don't know until the insurance commissioner advises the carrier about what they'll allow."
Of course, there's been a lot of talk of Obama's "credibility" being hurt by the bumpy rollout of his signature law, and the recent perplexity hasn't helped much. But as Bustle recently pointed out, it's not all been bad — in fact, many people who had been previously unaware that they qualify for Medicaid found out that they were eligible because of Obamacare, and have since signed up en masse. Flawed implementation? Sure. Total hurricane of disaster? Not so much.