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Feingold did cast one of the 60 votes, which he touts, on a crucial measure that paved the way for final Senate passage of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010. But to call it the deciding vote is misleading in that support from Feingold -- unlike some other senators who had to be persuaded to vote yes -- was never in doubt.
Meanwhile, the chamber’s ad, which was released Oct. 28, 2016, makes more attacks on Feingold regarding the law, saying of Feingold:
"He said we could keep our doctors and our plans. It was rated as the Lie of the Year."
Let’s give that claim an examination.
'Keep our doctors and our plans'
The chamber cites a column Feingold wrote for the La Crosse Tribune during his 2010 campaign, which ended with a loss to Johnson. The column poses questions and answers about Obamacare. It does not mention doctors, but the first question covers plans:
I currently purchase my own insurance. Will this bill force me into a public plan?
No. The health care law does not create a public plan. If you like the plan you purchase, the health care reform bill does not force you to change it.
So, the chamber’s claim is that Feingold said "we could keep our doctors and plans" under Obamacare. Feingold, though answering a question about a "public plan," essentially said the same -- that the law "does not force you" to change insurance plans.
But we also found this statement about Obamacare on Feingold’s 2010 campaign website:
You will be allowed to see the doctor of your choice and, if you like your current plan, you are free to keep it.
Which brings us to the second part of the chamber’s statement.
'Rated as the Lie of the Year'
The second part claims that what Feingold said was rated as the Lie of the Year.
The reference is to PolitiFact National’s Lie of the Year for 2013, which was this statement made repeatedly by Obama and others about the Affordable Care Act: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it."
The Feingold campaign argues that insurance plans existing before 2010 were grandfathered in under the law, but that employers and insurance companies chose to make changes, causing cancellations.
But our colleagues wrote that Obama’s promise "was impossible to keep":
As cancellation letters were going out to approximately 4 million Americans, the public realized Obama’s breezy assurances were wrong.
Boiling down the complicated health care law to a soundbite proved treacherous, even for its promoter-in-chief. Obama and his team made matters worse, suggesting they had been misunderstood all along. The stunning political uproar led to this: a rare presidential apology ….
The Affordable Care Act tried to allow existing health plans to continue under a complicated process called "grandfathering," which basically said insurance companies could keep selling plans if they followed certain rules.
The problem for insurers was that the Obamacare rules were strict. If the plans deviated even a little, they would lose their grandfathered status. In practice, that meant insurers canceled plans that didn’t meet new standards.
The U.S. chamber says Feingold said that with Obamacare "we could keep our doctors and our plans, it was rated as the Lie of the Year."
Feingold did make that statement about keeping doctors and insurance plans during his 2010 Senate campaign. And that was PolitiFact National’s 2013 Lie of the Year.
We rate the statement True.
La Crosse Tribune, "Russ Feingold: Setting the record straight on reform," April 4, 2010
Email, U.S. Chamber of Commerce director of media and external communications Erica Flint, Nov. 2, 2016
Email, Russ Feingold campaign spokesman Michael Tyler, Nov. 4, 2016
PolitiFact National, "Lie of the Year: 'If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,’" Dec. 12, 2013
Internet Archive, health care page of Russ Feingold 2010 campaign website, Oct. 28, 2010
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