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White House: Obama would veto Republican healthcare bill

U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the Affordable Care Act in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, November
U.S. President Barack Obama talks about the Affordable Care Act in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, November

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama would veto a bill sponsored by a Republican congressman that would allow insurers to offer healthcare plans slated to be canceled because they do not meet the new U.S. healthcare law's standards, the White House said on Thursday.

The veto threat came hours after Obama, under fire for the botched roll-out of his signature domestic policy achievement, said health insurers could extend by at least one year policies that were due to be canceled because they do not comply with new minimum requirements.

The White House has said previously that the bill, sponsored by Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, would undermine the law known as Obamacare because it would allow plans that had been canceled to be sold to anyone, not just people who wanted to renew their existing plans.

The bill "rolls back the progress made by allowing insurers to continue to sell new plans that deploy practices such as not offering coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, charging women more than men, and continuing yearly caps on the amount of care that enrollees receive," the White House said in a statement on Thursday.

"The administration supports policies that allow people to keep the health plans that they have. But, policies that reverse the progress made to extend quality, affordable coverage to millions of uninsured, hard-working, middle-class families are not the solution," it said.

Upton is the chair of the House of Representatives' energy and commerce committee and a longtime critic of Obamacare.

Democrats and Republicans have expressed anger over the prospect of several million Americans having their policies canceled. Obama's proposed fix on Thursday was aimed at addressing one of a myriad of problems associated with the law since the glitchy website Healthcare.gov went online last month.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Bill Trott)

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