Insurers could take heat off GOP to ‘replace’

by
June 12, 2012
By JOANNE KENEN and JONATHAN ALLEN | Politico

Three of the big health insurance companies are about to give everyone some popular parts of “Obamacare.”

And even Republicans who hate the president’s health care plan couldn’t be happier.

On Monday morning, UnitedHealthcare said it would voluntarily give its customers some of the most popular protections in the law — like coverage for young adults — no matter what the Supreme Court says when it rules on the law later this month. Within hours, Aetna and Humana said they were on board, too.

Those announcements could help the insurers head off a major backlash if the Supreme Court strikes down the law. They don’t solve the biggest challenges of health care: how to restrain costs and cover people with pre-existing conditions who are already running up big health bills.

But they’re giving the major insurers a chance to generate some good publicity while getting ahead of the political curve. And for Republicans the big hope is that the insurers’ moves will ease the pressure on Congress to step in if the law is struck down to preserve some of its most-popular features.

House Republican leaders had quietly hatched a plan to preserve some aspects of the law — including the provision allowing adult children to stay on their parents’ insurance — but faced withering criticism from conservatives, who say it’s not the government’s place to decide. The moves by the insurers could take the onus off Republicans to step in with a legislative fix.

“Today’s announcement is a reminder that sensible health care reform does not require the massive government takeover in Washington Democrats’ law, which is hurting our economy by driving up costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. Steel added that the private insurers’ action “reinforces our commitment” to repeal any portion of the law that the court leaves standing.

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) offered a similar view. “There is plenty of room for solutions in the private market, and a primary objection to the ACA remains the heavy-handed, bureaucratic approach, which necessarily compels millions of employers and beneficiaries to leave private insurance in favor of a public option,’” she said in an email.

White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment on the announcements at a briefing Monday.

To read more, visit: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77304.html#ixzz1xXo4Jf21

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