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Upon Further Review: HB 1147 ‘Keep Your Plan Bill’ (Farrell/Peace) A Waste of Time – Just ‘Feel Good Legislation’

On January 28, 2014 I posted a press release concerning HB 1147 by Del. Peter Farrell (R-Henrico) with Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) as a Chief Patron titled House Passes Farrell/Peace “Keep Your Plan Act’.

And the bill did indeed pass the House.

Sometimes we assume a bill actually solves a problem based on the bill’s title. Sometimes it is nothing more than a waste of time and taxpayer money and amounts to nothing more than “feel good” legislation that accomplishes nothing.

This bill falls into the latter category.

As a reader pointed out to me, all of the plans that people might have wanted to keep were already cancelled in 2013 in order to be in compliance with The Affordable Health Care Act known as Obamacare. And this bill does nothing to change that fact.

The text of the bill states simply:

1. § 1. That notwithstanding any other provision of Virginia law, insurance companies shall be allowed to continue [ to ] offer health insurance plans in all product markets that were in effect at any time during 2012 and 2013.

Now I am no attorney, but I am a licensed Insurance Agent. And I can read. And there are a number of other issues besides that big one – these policies are already cancelled and no longer offered in accordance with Obamacare.

The first glaring issue that comes to the front has to do with the statement made by Delegate Peace in the 1/28 post:

Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) announces passage of House Bill 1147, of which he is a Chief Patron. HB 1147 is a measure to guarantee that no provision of Virginia law would prevent someone from keeping their health plan if they like it.  The bill passed the House today by a vote of 98-0.

“Prior to and after passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, President Obama falsely reassured Americans time and time again that they could keep their plan if they like it. We now know the truth,” said Peace.  “Even if they liked them, there is a high percentage of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans.

Reconciling the bold and underlined statements (emphasis added) to the language in HB 1147, it is apparent that in the first paragraph that this bill changed nothing and will not serve to resurrect a single policy that has or will be cancelled. It simply ensures that there are no provisions in Virginia law that would prevent you from keeping your plan if they like it.

The problem was not Virginia laws. It was Obamacare, a federal law.

And I am extremely disappointed with the second statement. Delegate Peace stated that “President Obama falsely reassured Americans time and time again that they could keep their plan if they like it.

And “If you like it, Virginia, you can keep it,” says Del. Peace.

And I would have to opine that Delegate Peace, with that statement, falsely reassured Virginians that they can keep their plan just as Obama did.

Because nothing in this bill even remotely empowers Virginians that liked their old plan with the ability to keep their old plan. This bill will not bring back a single policy nor will it prevent an Insurance Company from cancelling a policy a Virginian likes.

Nor does this bill compel or require an Insurance Company to continue to offer a specific policy a Virginian may have liked. In fact, the scope of this bill does not even address specific policies, only markets.

… insurance companies shall be allowed to continue [ to ] offer health insurance plans in all product markets that were in effect at any time during 2012 and 2013.

This bill simply allows an insurance company to “continue to offer health insurance plans” to the same people (markets) they offered plans in 2012 and 2013. It does not say which plans.

It also fails to require the Bureau of Insurance to approve plans that were in force in 2012 and 2013 that do not comply with the requirements of Obamacare.

And the bill does not require insurance companies to reinstate the old policy you liked.

It simply says an insurance company can sell policies in the same markets they did in 2012 and 2013 with no requirement that the policy be the one the Virginian liked.

But one unintended consequence, should this bill pass, might be to allow an insurance company that has been suspended or prohibited from doing business in Virginia  that sold insurance in 2012 and/or 2013 to continue to sell insurance even though they were banned.

Oops! I don’t know of any unscrupulous insurer that was kicked out of the state, but this is a possible opening.

Honestly, for clarity I would have changed the syntax of this bill to read:

1. § 1. That notwithstanding any other provision of Virginia law, insurance companies shall be allowed to continue [ to ] offer the same health insurance policies that were in effect at any time during 2012 and 2013 health insurance plans in all product markets that were in effect at any time during 2012 and 2013.

And to be completely honest, the word “notwithstanding” would not appear in anything I wrote. I would just say what I really mean. In fact, I would add “this provision preempts any other provision” if that is the intent of the word “notwithstanding”.

Because as this bill, as written, grants the insurance company has no power to reject the provisions of Obamacare that forced them to cancel these policies in the first place, no protection from the federal government should they offer a policy not in compliance with the ACA and there is no mandate that the Virginia Bureau of Insurance approve such plans. And the bill does not exempt insurance companies from the Bureau of Insurance.

In short, this bill does nothing to help anyone and any insurance company that were to offer a plan not approved by Obamacare is not protected by the state from litigation, fines, or other retaliation by the federal government.

And we already know that the new Attorney General Mark Herring wouldn’t lift a finger to help defend this law, should it pass.

Delegate Farrell and Delegate Peace have wasted taxpayers time and money with this bill and it needs to die in the Senate because it does nothing to help Virginians keep a policy they liked.

My current policy will be terminated at the end of this year (2014) and I will be forced to find other insurance. And even though I like my policy and want very much to keep my policy, HB 1147 is not going to save my policy.

Of course this bill did manage to put all of the House Democrats on record as opposing Virginian’s losing their health coverage, something that will allow them to escape responsibility in the next election.

It would be nice if Virginia’s General Assembly would get behind the people that they work for and actually pass a bill that would insulate us from the horrors of losing our insurance instead of patting themselves on the back for a job not done.

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog.

Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

4 Responses to “Upon Further Review: HB 1147 ‘Keep Your Plan Bill’ (Farrell/Peace) A Waste of Time – Just ‘Feel Good Legislation’”

  1. Gene Lefty says:

    Well written Tom, excellent!

  2. D. C.
    Twitter:
    says:

    Where in the heck has ‘ole Gene The Lefty been? In a very wierd kinda way I kinda missed such open and transparent commentary from a classic angry name call’in liberal progressive. I have nothing more to say except, Mr. White, it looks like you can keep your liberal commentator if you like your liberal commentator (PERIOD)!

  3. Michael Rosenstein says:

    Great article. Thanks.

    http://www.companylitigation.net

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    Tom White Says:

    Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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