Question for Jay Carney: Didn't Obama lie when he told people, "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan"? Update: Obama knew for at least three years

Here’s Ed Henry of Fox News picking up right where my last post left off. Everyone remembers Obama endlessly promising in the run-up to O-Care’s passage that you’ll be allowed to keep your plan if you like it. What you may not remember, but which righties like Charles Cooke of NRO are reminding people about on Twitter today, is that The One was unusually unequivocal in making that promise. Go look at the long list of quotes compiled at the end of this recent post at Forbes. Here’s my favorite, from his address to the AMA in June 2009:


“No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what. My view is that health-care reform should be guided by a simple principle: Fix what’s broken and build on what works.”

All that’s missing is a perfunctory “let me be clear.” Carney’s reply to this is, essentially, (a) a lot of people will be able to keep their plan if they like it, even if it’s not quite everyone, and (b) those who are getting dropped from their plans will get more comprehensive coverage on the exchanges. The latter point is like having the CEO of DirecTV tell customers that their monthly bill is about to double but they’ll now receive an extra hundred channels in return, maybe one or two of which people will actually watch. Comprehensive coverage is lovely, but if you’re on a budget basic coverage might be more cost-effective; why pay $1,000 extra a year for a new package that includes substance-abuse treatment, say, if you don’t drink or do drugs? Obama took the option of cheaper catastrophic care away from people because insurers wanted to squeeze healthy middle-class suckers for extra revenue by forcing coverage on them that they don’t need. And yet Carney’s basically selling this as a *good* thing about the law, a sort of upgrade over the basic — but affordable! — plans people have now. Remind me again: Isn’t “affordability” supposed to be a key plank of the Affordable Care Act?


As to the first point, that a lot of people will be keeping their plans, it depends on how you define “a lot.” Sixteen million people being dropped and half of them being forced to pay more sounds like “a lot” too:

[A]ccording to health care analyst Bob Laszewski, about 19 million people are currently in the individual health insurance market and 16 million of them are going to lose their current plan thanks to Obamacare.

Now many of those people will qualify for tax payer subsidies that will help them afford the higher premiums. But how many people that currently have individual health insurance will qualify for any help?

Well, according to a recent Kaiser Study, that number is less than half. Just 48 percent of people now buying their own insurance will be eligible for a tax credit that will help protect them from sticker shock.

That’s 8 million Americans who, like Deborah Cavallaro will be “infuriated because I was lied to.”

Two clips for you, one of Carney not answering Henry’s question and the other of him politely dodging when CNN’s Jim Acosta asks why Obama never seems to have any advance warning when his administration’s engaged in a grand cock-up. The IRS scandal, NSA eavesdropping on world leaders, and now the rollout — somehow his inner circle spared The One any prior notice of these debacles until it was too late. You would think Obama would be enraged by now that his yes-men keep letting him get blindsided this way, but no one is fired, no one is held accountable. Go figure.


Update: Of course he knew. How could he not have known that people would be dumped onto more expensive plans when he was counting on the higher revenue from premiums for those plans to help cover other people’s preexisting conditions? The law is supposed to work this way. Of course he knew.

But he didn’t want you to know. So he and his deputies lied and lied and lied.

Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.

Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”…

“This says that when they made the promise, they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” said Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms.


So they carved out a phony “grandfather” provision to take some political heat off of themselves while the law was being debated in Congress, then basically eviscerated it after the law passed to quietly maximize the number of people who got soaked. Laszewski himself is suddenly staring at a 66 percent premium increase and higher out-of-pocket costs now that his own plan got canceled. Remember when John Roberts was torn to shreds by righties for calling the mandate a tax? The mandate might not be a tax, but the provisions about which plans are and aren’t legal under the law effectively is. It’s a direct hit on middle-class wealth in the name of subsidizing the sick. But rather than sell it that way, as a de facto tax to provide welfare for the needy, and risk a political backlash, Obama chose to lie his ass off in falsely reassuring people they could keep their plan if they liked it. You’re welcome, America.

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John Stossel 1:00 PM | June 15, 2024