Sen. Hagan wants people to be able to keep their health insurance

McClatchy Washington BureauNovember 7, 2013 

— Sen. Kay Hagan on Thursday joined a push by Senate Democrats to get the Obama administration to make sure that people who like their health insurance can keep it.

North Carolina’s Democratic senator said she supported a bill that Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., introduced on Monday, the Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act.

Republicans have attacked Obama for misleading Americans when he repeatedly assured them that those who liked their insurance coverage could keep it. Hundreds of thousands of people with individual coverage are being told they must get new policies with the benefits and consumer protections now required by the Affordable Care Act.

Landrieu’s bill would let people keep their current health plans as long as they made the payments, even if the policies don’t meet coverage standards under the law. Insurance companies would have to spell out what parts of the policy aren’t up to the standards.

Hagan must run for re-election in 2014, and polls show the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, isn’t popular in North Carolina. Recently she has been targeted by a $1.6 million television ad campaign that criticizes her for supporting the law.

Hagan and other Democrats facing re-election campaigns met at the White House Wednesday to talk with President Barack Obama about the health care rollout’s problems. She asked him to provide more clarity about what’s been fixed and what problems remain and to let the public know.

But Hagan pushed back against the idea that the health care plan would cause political trouble for her next year.

“Obviously it’s not going the way it should and I’m disappointed and I’m frustrated and it’s totally unacceptable because the American people deserve better and the way I look at it, North Carolinians deserve better,” Hagan said

But she added that it’s not surprising that there would be fixes needed to a plan as large as the health care law, and many parts of the law have helped people.

“I’ve known for years people that were stuck in jobs because they had health care” and feared they’d never get it on a new job because of a pre-existing condition, she said, adding that others lost coverage when they exceeded a lifetime coverage limit.

Under the new law, the lifetime coverage limit and exclusions for pre-existing conditions are prohibited.

“We will get through this,” Hagan said. “There are going to be a lot of plans that have better coverage and many people will get a tax credit to help them with their insurance premium.”

Last month, Hagan asked the administration to extend the open enrollment period for two months to make up for the time when the HealthCare.gov website has not been working. The White House has not changed the deadline, however. It remains March 31, 2014.

Hagan also said she thinks the HealthCare.gov website is “getting better” because she’s tried it a few times and recently has been able to get on.

Still, she said, “You know what I really hear from people in North Carolina? People are worried about jobs.”

Email: rschoof@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @reneeschoof

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