Democrats desperate to defend Barack Obama from his own “you can keep your plan” lie have spent this week trying to shift blame to insurers. They didn’t have to change their plans, advocates argue, and could have had them grandfathered into the exchanges — even though HHS and the White House deliberately wrote the rules to make that all but impossible. CNN reports that insurers had nothing to do with it in at least three states, where the states themselves forced the cancellations in order to comply with ObamaCare:
President Obama may have promised Americans that they can keep their insurance if they like it, but that’s not the case in at least three states where insurance companies are required to discontinue plans that don’t meet Obamacare’s new coverage standards.
Virginia, Kentucky and Idaho have told insurance companies that they must scrap insurance plans that don’t meet the minimum coverage requirements laid out in the Affordable Care Act. Some states allow insurers to amend their current plans to include the new benefits, such as maternity care and prescription drug coverage, required under Obamacare.
But these three states have determined that with so many changes required under Obamacare, it’s easier to start over than to try to bring existing plans into compliance.
Ronda Sloan, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Insurance, explained the policy this way: “In this case, you’re talking about an entirely new product. They had to file a completely new policy. … It was easier just to start from scratch.”
Kentucky has been held up as a success story by ObamaCare advocates, where enrollments have been a little more robust than on the federal exchange. That may have been in part because the state forced insurers to cancel half of the plans in the state’s individual market, used by 600,000 people to buy insurance. Virginia didn’t give CNN any numbers, but did say that the cancellations force consumers back into the ObamaCare exchanges whether they wanted that insurance or not.
It’s as true in the other 47 states as well. Insurers had to change their plans in order to comply with ObamaCare requirements, not just out of sheer whimsical delight. CNN’s Jim Acosta tried to pin down Jay Carney on this point, but Carney insisted that it was the insurers’ fault. He added in enough caveats to Obama’s oft-repeated promise to make it sound like the small print at the end of a Cialis ad, though:
Obama may be getting most of the heat from this lie, but he’s far from the only politician who should have to account for it. The Hill takes us on a “you can keep your plan” stroll down Memory Lane:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who rallied all members of his caucus to support the landmark law, promised the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would let people keep the insurance plans they had at the time.
Reid touted that aspect of the law among its other benefits.
“It not only means making sure you can keep your family’s doctor or keep your healthcare plan if you like it, but also that you can afford to do so,” he said on the Senate floor on July 28, 2009.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) made the same promise two days later.
“Many people say: ‘I like my health insurance right now. I don’t want to change. I don’t want to go into Medicare or Medicaid. I like what I have. Would you please leave people alone?’ ” Durbin said.
“The answer is yes,” he added. “In fact, we guarantee it. We are going to put in any legislation considered by the House and Senate the protection that you, as an individual, keep the health insurance you have, if that is what you want.”
Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said on June 10, 2009: “If you like what you have today, that will be what you have when this legislation is passed.”
We’ll see if they fall into line behind Carney’s double-speak, or they distance themselves from the White House. I suspect that will have a lot to do with whether they have to face voters again in 2014 or 2016.