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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Welch Opposes GOP Health Bill

Congressman Peter Welch says he supports President Obama’s plan to allow individuals to keep their current health care coverage for another year. But Welch voted against a Republican sponsored bill that includes a number of key expansions to the President’s plan.

Under the president’s proposal, state insurance commissioners would have the authority to extend current health care policies for at least a year even if the policies are not compliant with the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act. Congressman Peter Welch says the president made the right decision with this plan.

“He made a promise to people it was pretty clear and pretty explicit if you like the insurance that you have you can keep it and frankly it’s very simple you make a promise you keep a promise,” said Welch.  “So I think the president had to follow through and what he’s proposing what I think largely allow people to keep the current insurance they have if that’s their decision.”

The U.S. House gave its approval to a Republican sponsored bill on Friday that goes even further than the president’s plan.

The legislation allows individuals to keep their current policies for as long as they want and it allows other consumers to sign up for these non compliant policies.

"That is a bad idea. I mean, that is quite explicitly intended to try to unravel the health care bill." - Rep. Peter Welch on GOP Health bill

Welch voted against the bill because he says it undermines the basic foundation of the Affordable Care Act.  “That’s a bad idea. I mean, that is quite explicitly intended to try to unravel the health care bill, said Welch. "Because in order for us to have health insurance that has real coverage as opposed to phony coverage, we’ve got to have some standards so that when a person is buying health care, businesses getting health care for their employees, they know what ever covers them.”

Welch says he’d like to see Congress pass a bill that puts the President’s plan into law but he doubts that the Republican controlled House and the Democratic controlled Senate will be able to reach an agreement on this issue.

“So at the end of the day I think what you’re going to see is the administrative action by the President giving some flexibility in states,” said Welch. “I don’t think this is going to be a significant issue in Vermont just because of the way we’re doing business. We have good insurance companies we don’t have some of these fly by night operators.”

The Shumlin Administration says the President’s proposal will have little impact in Vermont because the Governor has already announced a plan to allow individuals and small businesses to keep their coverage until the end of March.

Shumlin says a three month extension is all that is needed because he’s confident that Vermont’s new health care exchange will be up and operating, with an online payment system, by the end of this month.

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