Once again, Barber and Sinema fail a gut check vote


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The recent media hysteria over "if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it" is all about ignoring sound public policy for "gotcha" political gamesmanship. That's all the Beltway media villagers and pundits care about. It's always a political game of meaningless polls and election speculation for these effin' idiots, they are too damned ignorant to comprehend complex public policy. The corporate media is complicit in the failure of effective government, and aids and abets those who seek to undermine government.

Let's be clear: the elimination of substandard health insurance policies that provide no real coverage and leave the insured vulnerable to medical costs in the event of a serious injury or illness that can leave them bankrupt is not a bug but a feature of the ACA. The policy was designed to eliminate these fraudulent insurance policies from predator insurers. The "grandfather" clause for these substandard policies gave these predator insurers until 2015 to sell their fraudulent product, but many of them used the ACA as a ready excuse to cancel these fraudulent policies now, blame it on "ObamaCare," and upsell their policy holders into more expensive policies without advising them that a less expensive policy may be available from that insurer, or available on the Marketplace insurance exchange. Predators do not inform their marks, or send them to their competitors.

All the media hysteria in favor of predatory insurers and the broken health care system status quo that existed prior to the ACA has created so much background noise that it encouraged Tea-Publicans to engage in further sabotage of the ACA, and made Democratic squishes go soft on sound public policy.

Due to political pressure from these Democratic squishes worried about their own reelection prospects — a political decision, not a policy decision — President Obama was forced yeterday to offer a "fix" to encourage predatory insurers to continue their fraudulent insurance policies for another year, with the caveat that the insurer must adequately notify the insured of their options at the end of the policy term. This is how Obama plans to un-cancel insurance policies. This is bad public policy.

Reality check: insurers are not going to "un-cancel" policies they have already canceled. Congress has several different "fix" bills, some giving insurers the option of continuing their fraudulent policies for a period of time, and some mandating that insurers must conntinue their fraudulent policies indefinitely (so much for free market capitalism). This is bad public policy that undermines health insurance reform in favor of the broken health insurance system status quo that existed prior to the ACA. Everything you need to know about the plans to ‘fix’ Obamacare.

The first of these so-called "fixes" to come up for a vote is Rep. Fred Upton's "Keep Your Health Plan Act":

The law is poorly named: It doesn't actually guarantee that you can keep your health care. Instead, it allows insurers to keep offering their current plans and also allows them to offer new plans that aren't ACA compliant.

At a slim 235 words, Upton's bill is a master class in the pitfalls of soundbite legislation. It manages to fail to solve the problem it's actually aimed at while creating a new political problem — this time, for Republicans.

The bill gives insurers the option of renewing their cancelled plans — but, crucially, it doesn't require them to do so. Few insurers want to renew those plans, as they don't expect them to be profitable in a post-Obamacare world. So Upton's bill doesn't mean people can keep their current health insurance, but it means they can begin (wrongly) blaming their health insurer rather than the Obama administration for the cancellation of that insurance.

Meanwhile, Upton's bill has a secondary provision allowing insurers to offer new plans in 2014 that don't comply with the Affordable Care Act's consumer protections. So if an insurer wants to continue turning people away for being sick, they can go right ahead. If they want to offer shoddy coverage that'll evaporate the moment a health crisis strikes, that's their prerogative. The result is that Upton guts the law's extremely popular insurance regulations. "A vote for the Upton bill, in short, is a vote for everything Americans say they hate about their health-care system," Jon Cohn writes.

Today was a "gut check" vote for House Democrats on Upton's bill that Weeper of the House John Boehner said is designed to repeal the ACA. Boehner: Upton Bill a Step On Path to Obamacare Repeal. Just as they did on the Tea-Publican hostage taking to shut down the federal government and default on the full faith and credit of the United States last month, our Democratic squishes in Arizona – Ron Barber and Kyrsten Sinema — failed their gut check test.

Greg Sargent wrote this morning, For Democrats, it’s gut check time:

Today, the House of Representatives will take up GOP Rep. Fred Upton’s proposal to ”fix” Obamacare by undermining it.

If the president can’t fix Obamacare’s problems over the long term, then the Democrats’ political woes will be serious enough later that any maneuvering now just won’t matter. This isn’t about whether to follow Obama into battle; it’s about whether to stand up for the policy upon which Dems have staked so much.

* * *

Health reform has been a chief goal of Democrats for decades. It’s the latest effort to build on the great reforms that defined the party in the 20th century, in a way that will update the liberal project for the 21st. Will Dems stand by the law and against serious efforts to undermine it, even if it requires walking through political fire to do so? Hello, Dems? Remember what’s at stake here? Isn’t this worth fighting for?

For Democratic squishes Ron Barber and Kyrsten Sinema, their answer was "no." They voted in favor of the broken health care system status quo. They voted to allow predator insurers to continue to prey upon policy holders with fraudulent insurance policies.  The Fix: How Democrats voted:

The 39 Democratic “yes” votes represent the single largest tally of defectors this year on any major or closely-watched piece of legislation.

The Democratic defectors were:

Rep. Ron Barber (Ariz.)
Rep. John Barrow (Ga.)
Rep. Ami Bera (Calif.)
Rep. Tim Bishop (N.Y.)
Rep. Bruce Braley (Iowa)
Rep. Julia Brownley (Calif.)
Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.)
Rep. Jim Costa (Calif.)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.)
Rep. Suzan DelBene (Wash.)
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.)
Rep. William Enyart (Ill.)
Rep. Elizabeth Esty (Conn.)
Rep. Bill Foster (Ill.)
Rep. Pete Gallego (Texas)
Rep. John Garamendi (Calif.)
Rep. Joe Garcia (Fla.)
Rep. Ron Kind (Wis.)
Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.)
Rep. Dave Loebsack (Iowa)
Rep. Dan Maffei (N.Y.)
Rep. Sean Maloney (N.Y.)
Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah)
Rep. Mike McIntyre (N.C.)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (Calif.)
Rep. Patrick Murphy (Fla.)
Rep. Rick Nolan (Minn.)
Rep. Bill Owens (N.Y.)
Rep. Scott Peters (Calif.)
Rep. Gary Peters (Mich.)
Rep. Colin Peterson (Minn.)
Rep. Nick Rahall (W. Va.)
Rep. Raul Ruiz (Calif.)
Rep. Bill Schneider (Ill.)
Rep. Kurt Schrader (Ore.)
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.)
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)
Rep. Filemon Vela (Texas)
Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.).

Ron Barber was particularly pleased to remind people that "I was not in Congress" when the ACA was enacted, and sought to distance himself from sound health care policy in favor of GOPropaganda gimmicks that will only undermine the provisions of the ACA.

Congressman said consumers must be able to keep insurance policies for another year
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today joined a strong bipartisan majority of the House in voting to allow consumers to continue buying health insurance policies that were in effect when the year began, saying they deserve the flexibility they need to choose plans that are right for them and their families.
“I am frustrated and angered by the continuing problems with the health care website and I know Southern Arizonans are frustrated and angry, too,” Barber said today. “Today I voted to give people the option to keep their current plan until these and other issues are resolved. That’s only fair.”
With Barber and a bipartisan majority, the House today voted 261-to-157 to approve theKeep Your Health Plan Act. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would allow insurers to continue selling individual policies that were in effect on Jan. 1, 2013. The measure would remain in effect through 2014.
Barber today also voted to require insurance companies to notify consumers about their health insurance options to ensure they have the information they need to choose the best plans for them and their families.
Barber supported requiring state insurance commissioners to investigate and penalize insurance companies for inadequate cancellation notices; take corrective action against excessive, unjustified premium increases; and take appropriate steps to ensure that extending non-compliant 2013 policies does not adversely affect marketplace premiums.
Barber has called for immediate action to right the many failures of the rollout of the health care website which has left many Americans unable to buy insurance coverage that they are required to purchase. Barber has called for transparency and accountability throughout the rollout and to make sure the people he serves in Arizona get a fair shake.
Barber’s support for today’s bill builds on earlier concerns he has raised. In a hearing this week, Barber called the website’s debut “totally unacceptable” and said he also is concerned about the security of personal information submitted by people signing up for health insurance. Video of Barber making those points can be seen by clicking on the image below.
And just two weeks ago, Barber became an original cosponsor of the Health Care Access Fairness and Penalty Delay Act, which would delay penalties for people who don’t obtain health insurance until four months after the healthcare.gov website is completely functional.
And a week before that, Barber asked Attorney General Eric Holder to launch an immediate in-depth review of the companies responsible for the website.
Barber and four of his colleagues in the House asked Holder to “pursue any and all remedies up to and including a refund of any and all monies paid to the contractors for a website that doesn’t work. If the government has purchased faulty or defective services, the taxpayers deserve and should demand their money back.”
Barber was not in Congress in March 2010 and did not vote for the Affordable Care Act. Since he took office in June 2012, he has remained opposed to full repeal of the act to keep the many benefits of the law, like closing the doughnut hole for seniors, allowing students to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, prevent people with pre-existing conditions from being denied healthcare and requiring insurance companies to treat women equally in their plans and premiums.
Barber has supported common-sense actions to fix parts of the law that don’t work for Southern Arizona small businesses, middle-class families and seniors.
Even before the website problems, Barber supported a one-year delay to the employer and individual penalties in the Affordable Care Act. The delay in the imposition of penalties and fines would give employers with more than 50 employees and individuals who do not have insurance an additional year to meet the requirements of the law.


  1. I would argue that the single largest tally of defectors was the vote for H.R.992, a bill to re-deregulate derivatives. Seventy sell-out Dems voted for that one, Ron and Kyrsten among them.

  2. You progressives just don’t get it. Don’t you understand that Ron and Kyrsten are in tough districts? If they want to defend their seats, they have no choice but to sell out. If they don’t back down from a fight with Republicans and roll over, how can they ever expect to beat Republicans in an election?

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