Americans want an antidote to President Barack Obama's "big lie" that they could keep their healthcare coverage if they want to, and that's what Rep. Fred Upton's new bill in Congress aims to provide, he tells Newsmax TV.
The Michigan Republican, who has served since 1987 and chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says Obama's apology is not enough for people who are losing their insurance or doctors.
In an exclusive interview Friday, he discusses the bill — already being touted as "the biggest threat to Obamacare yet"
— he introduced with Sen. Ron Johnson, Republican from Wisconsin, which could be voted on in the House next week.
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"I worked with President Reagan and I remember well his quote, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,' and John F. Kennedy, his famous quote about what you can do for the country. Now President Obama's quote is, if you like your health insurance you can keep it.
"But as we're learning now, they knew that millions of Americans were going to lose their individual health plan," Upton says.
"As we House members are back in our districts this week, people are coming up to us saying that they had their policies canceled. They're finding that the alternative is going to be thousands of dollars more. Their deductible is often going up in the thousands of dollars.
"So what I did was introduce a bill almost two weeks ago that said if you have an individual healthcare policy that was effective as of this year, January 2013, that policy in fact is grandfathered in and it allows you to keep it for another year. You're not going to be subject to a penalty. You're not going to be forced to find something else," Upton explains.
"We already have close to 150 co-sponsors. Our leadership indicated that our bill will be on the House floor for a vote next Friday, and my sense is that we're going to get way more than enough to pass it, and hopefully put some pressure on the Senate to again pass a bipartisan bill that'll force the president to keep his promise."
Upton agrees with the assertion that Obama's promise about healthcare insurance was "the big lie."
"What's particularly troubling is that even in September the president said on the record, if you like your health insurance, you simply don't have to do anything because you can keep it,"
Upton says. "Yet report after report after report shows that in fact, folks at the White House knew that millions of people were going to lose their policy.
"And this idea that, oh, they're going to have a better plan and maybe they won't pay quite as much — I mean, let the individual decide what they're going to do. That's called America, having the ability to choose your healthcare plan and to choose your doctor.
"Remember, this bill passed by one vote in the Senate on Christmas Eve morning, passed only by a handful of votes a couple of months later on a Sunday afternoon in the House," Upton says.
"Now people are finding it very difficult to navigate this [HealthCare.gov] website that seems to be tragically broken. Yet the administration told us in September it's ready to go, no problems, let's go. And they never tested it."
Asked why Obamacare opponents did not introduce bills earlier, Upton says it's because Obamacare's shortcomings are now becoming obvious.
"This is the Congress listening to the people. Our phones are ringing off the hook. We're getting mail.
"This is not something that is hidden under the blanket. This is something that is in every corner of the nation and people are angry."
President Obama on Thursday apologized to Americans who are finding out they'll lose their current healthcare plan.
Upton comments: "Presidents don't apologize very often. I'm glad that he's fessed up, but that's not good enough for people who have lost their coverage.
"We're looking at people with tears in their eyes. People are losing their doctors. These are people with pre-existing conditions. An apology isn't enough, not to the people that I've spoken to."
Obama recently sat down with about 15 Democrats who are facing re-election next year and desperately want the president to put the brakes on Obamacare.
Asked if Obama will in fact do that, Upton observes: "I remember a Congress back in the '80s passed a catastrophic health bill and it didn't take very long to figure out that the government shouldn't be running this. And I want to say within a year the same Congress that passed that catastrophic health bill repealed it. And America took a really big sigh of relief when that happened.
"I don't know whether this rollout is going to lead to repeal or not. But in the meantime, this really is a life-and-death deal for a lot of people."
Upton says his House bill is necessary. "It's a pretty simple bill that we introduced, H.R. 3350. It allows those plans to be grandfathered in if they have a plan that was in place before, and it fixes a problem that otherwise is going to be a real pain to lots of Americans."
Upton also discusses the possible future for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
"She told us under oath that she thought [the website] would be up to snuff by the end of this month," he tells Newsmax. "I don't know if she's going to be right or not.
"I've not called for a resignation, but she is on the hot seat. That's for sure."
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