I wonder what his “solution” to the insurance industry’s developing adverse-selection problem will be.
“We knew that there would be some policies that would not qualify and therefore people would be required to get more extensive coverage,” Hoyer said in response to a question from National Review.
Asked by another reporter how repeated statements by Obama to the contrary weren’t “misleading,” Hoyer said “I don’t think the message was wrong. I think the message was accurate. It was not precise enough…[it] should have been caveated with – ‘assuming you have a policy that in fact does do what the bill is designed to do.’”
Hoyer noted that people losing access to their current plans are mostly in the individual market, which is a small segment of the overall market.
No, it’s not that Obama wasn’t “precise enough.” Go watch this clip, which I linked yesterday. He lied outright, unequivocally, for years — including during the first debate with Romney last October. Hoyer himself repeated the same lie, without qualification, back in 2009. Here’s the question, though: Did Hoyer know just how many policies wouldn’t qualify under ObamaCare? The takeaway from yesterday’s NBC scoop isn’t that they knew all along that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” was a scam. That was baked in the cake from the beginning; some people would have to lose their plans so that they could be forced onto the exchanges, where they’d pay more for coverage in the name of subsidizing the sick and poor. The takeaway is that HHS wrote the regulations to make that problem worse than it otherwise might have been, by stipulating that any material change made by an insurance company to one of its plans rendered that plan non-grandfathered under the law and therefore illegal. They maximized the hit on the middle class. Did Hoyer know they were going to do that? Does he care that they did? He’d better figure it out, because the more of an uproar there is over people getting dropped, the more Ron Johnson’s new bill will start to look good to red-state Democrats in the Senate. Passing it might make the adverse-selection problem worse, not better, but desperate incumbents like Pryor and Begich might not care. At the very least, the pressure on them to relax some of HHS’s regs disqualifying formerly grandfathered plans will only grow more intense.
Now that the country knows “if you like your plan” is a bald-faced lie repeated ad nauseam by Democrats for years, it’s time to shift the goalposts. Shift one: Yes, it’s true that some people will lose their plan and pay more next year, but they’re getting more comprehensive coverage in return and that kinda sorta justifies taking away their choice. By the same logic, I guess, it’d be okay to force people to sell their cars and buy new ones with better safety features because, after all, they’re getting a benefit from the extra expense, even if they can’t comfortably afford it. The difference between ObamaCare and the car example, though, is that the car-buyer really would be the intended beneficiary of that program. Not so with O-Care. The point of forcing healthy middle-class people into more expensive plans isn’t that they’ll avail themselves of the extra coverage but that they likely won’t, which leaves lots of extra cash for the insurance company to apply towards covering the preexisting conditions of others. Since it’s done in the name of virtue, though, it’s supposedly okay. At the very least, I’d like to think that the car hypothetical would be sold to the public honestly, not with some “if you like your sh*tbox, you can keep it” lie.
Shift two: Some lefties want to treat “if you like your plan” as water under the bridge, a talking point that might not have been technically true in all cases but which there’s no sense dwelling on now. We’re all in the quicksand together at this point; we can stand here and point fingers about who lied or we can try to pull ourselves out. Jonah Goldberg responds:
Indeed, what is so infuriating to many of us is that is that now that it’s the law of the land, Obamacare supporters act as if all of the lies were no big deal and no serious person believed them anyway. But as anyone can tell you, if Obama had been honest about the trade-offs in his signature piece of legislation, it would never have become his signature piece of legislation. So please, don’t tell me the lies don’t matter…
I fail to see why Republicans should simply accept that the law is here to stay and get into wonky discussions about how to improve it at the margins at the exact moment the wheels are coming off the bus. The president and the Democrats lied us into a bad law. The right opposed the law on principle. A single party — the Democrats — own this law in a way that no party has had complete ownership of any major social legislation in a century. They bought this legislation with deceit and the GOP said so. Now that it is going into effect, the facts on the ground are confirming that deceit. Moreover, the same haughty condescending bureaucrats and politicians who told us they were smart enough and tech-savvy enough to do just about anything are being exposed as incompetent political hacks. And this is the moment when Sargent thinks the GOP should simply throw in the towel and work with the Democrats to make Obamacare bipartisan?
It’s been said before that one of the big novelties of ObamaCare is that momentous, paradigm-shifting legislation typically doesn’t pass along strict party lines. Sometimes a robust bipartisan consensus forms in Congress, sometimes a less robust one does, but both parties to a greater or lesser degree buy in and go forward together in trying to make the law work. That didn’t happen this time. Democrats made a cold calculation: They had the numbers in Congress to do this and they were going to do it, even if that meant lying repeatedly to the public about the cost and consequences, even if it meant forfeiting a majority in the House for the next decade. This is what they wanted and now they’ve got it, and they can’t stand it. Enjoy.
Update: A useful little BuzzFeed-esque featurette from the NRSC.