Barack Obama’s messy breakup with insurers

Democrats don’t have a lot of sympathy for the insurance companies. They’ve been pushing the Obama administration to do more to pin the blame on the insurers, and to remind the public of the bad old days of pre-Obamacare health insurance coverage — as Obama did on Thursday, when he talked about how “Americans were routinely exposed to financial ruin or denied coverage due to minor pre-existing conditions or dropped from coverage altogether even if they’ve paid their premiums on time.”

Even now, Democratic strategists say insurers deserve more of the blame for tone-deaf communications with their customers than Obama is giving them.

“At a minimum, it would appear that had the insurance industry just done a moderately effective job of communicating to current policy holders that what 90 percent of them were going to get was effectively the same policy but with better coverage for less — as opposed to saying they were having their policy cancelled — the situation would be very different,” said Democratic strategist Chris Lehane.

The proposal also throws some of the responsibility to state insurance commissioners, who will have to decide whether to let insurers extend their current plans under state laws. Some state insurance commissioners will — the commissioners in California and Florida have already announced they will go along with the plan.