Here’s a long-distance dedication to Politifact, which crowned as its “lie of the year” the conservative argument that ObamaCare represents a government takeover of health care. Of course it’s not a government takeover of health care; it’s merely a crucial step towards a government takeover of health care. Many liberals have never been shy about voicing their ambitions in that regard, but since they couldn’t do it at the federal level last year, they’ve been looking for alternative routes. Voila — how about the opt-out provision in O-Care? That lets the states substitute their own alternative plan provided that it’s as comprehensive and affordable as the federal one is and that it doesn’t increase the deficit. Which is to say, you don’t really get to design your own plan, you get to design your own version of ObamaCare. (No wonder The One went out of his way to salute Romney again.) Obama cited that opt-out provision in his speech to the governors today as evidence of not only what a flexible program ObamaCare is but how interested he is in cost control. Yet while he was telling them that, the White House was telling the left something different:
Health care advisers Nancy-Ann DeParle and Stephanie Cutter stressed on the off-record call that the rule change would allow states to implement single-payer health care plans — as Vermont seeks to — and true government-run plans, like Connecticut’s Sustinet.
The source on the call summarizes the officials’ point — which is not one the Administration has sought to make publically — as casting the new “flexibility” language as an opportunity to try more progressive, not less expansive, approaches on the state level.
“They are trying to split the baby here: on one hand tell supporters this is good for their pet issues, versus a message for the general public that the POTUS is responding to what he is hearing and that he is being sensible,” the source emails.
Watch the end of the clip below to see O giving the governors his “flexibility” pitch. Given the severe limitation on just how flexible they can be, Republican governors are understandably underwhelmed, notwithstanding the fact that the White House is now allowing states to opt out as early as 2014 instead of 2017. I confess, I’m morbidly curious to see what sort of cheap, deceitful accounting tricks blue states like Vermont will use to make their new single-payer scheme meet ObamaCare’s “don’t increase the deficit” provision. Or will they be going the route of tax hikes to pay for this? Either way, if O’s such a fan of states experimenting with health care, he should rescind the opt-out provision that requires state coverage to be as comprehensive as O-Care’s and let them compete for residents by offering whatever plans they like. If you want single-payer and are willing to pay more, go to Vermont. If you don’t, go to Texas. And if that dynamic means a huge influx of lower-income residents into Burlington and Bennington and Montpelier, just do what the left always does: Raise taxes on the rich. Opt-out fever!