Kessler: Four Pinocchios for “you can keep your plan”
posted at 9:21 am on October 30, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
In my last post, I critiqued the Washington Post for its inability to directly state what has become obvious about the Barack Obama presidency — its incompetence and its dishonesty. Give credit where it’s due, though, because the Post’s fact-checker didn’t shy away from addressing the lie of “no one will take away your plan,” one of the many version of the “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” lie from Obama and his allies over the last five year. Glenn Kessler gives Obama all four Pinocchios, and adds in a slam at Valerie Jarrett for her own “FACT!” check:
In recent days, administration officials have argued that the plans that are going away are “substandard” and lacked essential protections — and that many people may qualify for tax credits to mitigate the higher premiums that may result from the new requirements. …
But such assertions do not really explain the president’s promise — or Jarrett’s tweet. There may be a certain percentage of people who were happy with their “substandard” plan, presumably because it cost relatively little. And while Jarrett claimed that “nothing” in the law is forcing people out of their plans “unless insurance companies change plans,” she is describing rules written by the president’s aides that were designed to make it difficult for plans to remain grandfathered for very long.
In fact, Kessler notes that HHS made it even more difficult, on purpose:
If you dig into the regulations (go to page 34560), you will see that HHS wrote them extremely tight. One provision says that if copayment increases by more than $5, plus medical cost of inflation, then the plan can no longer be grandfathered. (With last year’s inflation rate of 4 percent, that means the copay could not increase by more than $5.20.) Another provision says the coinsurance rate could not be increased at all above the level it was on March 23, 2010.
While one might applaud an effort to rid the country of inadequate insurance, the net effect is that over time, the plans would no longer meet the many tests for staying grandfathered.
The conclusion — the President lied, early and often:
The administration is defending this pledge with a rather slim reed — that there is nothing in the law that makes insurance companies force people out of plans they were enrolled in before the law passed. That explanation conveniently ignores the regulations written by the administration to implement the law. Moreover, it also ignores the fact that the purpose of the law was to bolster coverage and mandate a robust set of benefits, whether someone wanted to pay for it or not.
The president’s statements were sweeping and unequivocal — and made both before and after the bill became law. The White House now cites technicalities to avoid admitting that he went too far in his repeated pledge, which, after all, is one of the most famous statements of his presidency.
Now that Kessler has addressed this, will Politifact? A search for “keep your plan” turns up this gem from 2011, when the Virginia version of the site rated this statement from Rep. Morgan Griffith “mostly false”:
“Originally, Democrats promised that if you liked your health-care plan, you could keep it,” Griffith wrote. “One year later we know that you need a waiver to keep your plan.”
Two years later, it’s the White House and Democrats trying to use grandfathering as a fig leaf, even though they deliberately undermined the process to force millions of Americans out of coverage they chose for themselves. Will Politifact revisit this? Or how about this from 2012, a “half true” for Obama’s pledge?
Obama has a reasonable point: His health care law does take pains to allow Americans to keep their health plan if they want to remain on it. But Obama suggests that keeping the insurance you like is guaranteed.
In reality, Americans are not simply able to keep their insurance through thick and thin. Even before the law has taken effect, the rate of forced plan-switching among policyholders every year is substantial, and the CBO figures suggest that the law could increase that rate, at least modestly, even if Americans on balance benefit from the law’s provisions. We rate Obama’s claim Half True.
Don’t bet on it. This week, they gave David Axelrod a “mostly true” for his statement that most Americans aren’t getting their health-insurance plans cancelled. That’s only “mostly true” if one ignores the context of ObamaCare targeting the individual market. HHS predicted more than three years ago that as many as 67% of the people in those markets would have their plans cancelled due to their regulatory intervention through the ACA. It’s an absurd point of intellectual dishonesty to count employer-based plans in that consideration, especially since millions of Americans are starting to get those cancellations in their mailboxes.
I’d rate Politifact “mostly false” as a fact-checking entity based on this data. Kudos to Kessler for cutting through the BS.