We all remember the rollout of the Obamacare federal insurance exchange back in 2013. That introduction was so disastrous it made the suits who thought up New Coke look like Don Draper by comparison. As the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius was the woman chosen by President Obama to oversee the Obamacare rollout and she was also the woman chosen by President Obama to be thrown under the bus when it looked like the Obamacare exchange was in real danger of crashing on takeoff.
But being the good Democratic soldier that she is, Sebelius isn’t harboring any grudges or displaying any tell-tale signs of embarrassment over her part in the Obamacare rollout. No, a year and a half after her “resignation” from HHS she is still out toeing the Obama Administration line and repeating the same talking points again and again. Last week she did so at an American Public Square panel discussion on health care held at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. While there, she made quite a few statements that were simply not true and proved how out of touch she is with reality.
Unlike many other Americans, Sebelius simply cannot imagine a world where people could receive care without insurance, specifically Medicaid. In response to the discussion of whether or not those on Medicaid would be better off with other options, Sebelius stated, “I don’t know any dentist who will take uninsured people at all.”
Never mind that nearly 40% of all billings done by dentists in private practice are direct pay, (aka cash) Sebelius doesn’t know a single one. Maybe she really doesn’t know any, but they exist, and as for the other statements by the former HHS Secretary, to paraphrase Mary McCarthy, practically every word that came out of Sebelius’ mouth was untrue, including “and” and “the.”
So let’s take a look at a few of these untruths.
At one point during the panel Sebelius states that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) keeps people from being “locked out, priced out, or dumped out” of the insurance marketplace and that this “kind of security” is a “framework of the Affordable Care Act.”
Does you know somebody who has been priced out? Or locked out of coverage during enrollment times? Or dumped out when their insurance plans were cancelled? Of course you do, because it happened to millions of people. I’m sure some of you belong to those millions. As Foundation for Government Accountability CEO Tarren Bragdon, another member of the panel, said:
“I live in one of the top 20 fastest growing parts of the country—Naples, Florida. Next year, I’m on my third cancelled plan for my family. Next year, we have one carrier; in one of the fastest growing communities in the country…That one carrier has premiums [that] are twice what we were paying before. So there’s this notion of what was intended, but the reality is very different.”
I’m also on plan number three. I’m also about to be priced out now that my premiums have tripled and my once affordable deductible of $1,000 is now $6,000.
Contrary to her claims, locking people out, pricing people out, and dumping people out is the framework of Obamacare. Obama’s “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” line, something Sebelius and the rest of his administration knew wasn’t true all along, became Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” in 2013.
Later on in the discussion, Sebelius makes the claim that before the passage of Obamacare in 2010, people who lost their job had no other option than to get their insurance through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA), which required employers with group health plans to continue covering a terminated or laid off employee with temporary insurance coverage.
This is news to the thousands of people who purchased insurance through such outlets as ehealthisurance.com. Private plans not only existed prior to Obamacare, they were far more affordable too. Again, Sebelius either doesn’t realize these options existed at all or she’s not being honest about the marketplace prior to Obamacare. Either scenario is bad.
At the end of the panel, Sebelius gives her full-throated support for Obamacare, stating the government is a much more efficient provider of health care than the private sector, as evidenced by its lower administrative costs and overhead.
“I don’t think there is any question the government programs, year-in and year-out, deliver the most efficient levels of care.”
This is, quite frankly, a bold-faced lie. It is a well-known, bold-faced lie, and everyone who repeats it knows it is a well-known, bold-faced lie.
The reason why government-run healthcare programs appear to be more cost-effective is because other agencies do some of their dirty administrative work. This shifts and hides their true costs, and is something private insurance companies don’t have the luxury of doing. As Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute explains about the administration of Medicare: “The Internal Revenue Service collects the taxes that fund the program; the Social Security Administration helps collect some of the premiums paid by beneficiaries (which are deducted from Social Security checks); the Department of Health and Human Services helps to manage accounting, auditing, and fraud issues and pays for marketing costs, building costs, and more…Medicare’s administration is also tax-exempt, whereas insurers must pay state excise taxes on the premiums they charge; the tax is counted as an administrative cost.”
The utopian version of Obamacare that Kathleen Sebelius evangelizes across the country is a starkly different version of Obamacare than the American people have come to know and dislike. She can continue to shout its hosannas until she is blue in the face, but don’t expect the American people to pay her any mind, let alone be converted by this false prophet.
We live in reality and Sebelius’ latest statements prove she does not.