I’ve been harping for years about how Obama’s central health-care promise was a lie:
If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.
Now, with millions of cancellation notices going out, people are finally noticing, and the Obama administration is in a tough spot. People don’t like being lied to, particularly over matters consequence. The best that Obama’s defenders at the New York Times can manage is he “misspoke”. The Washington Post does better, practically tying itself in knots with this circumlocution:
the seeming contradiction shows the difference between political talking points intended to sell a controversial law and the intricacies of the health policies that underlie it.
Ah yes, the “seeming contradiction” between the talking points and the actual policies.
He did not misspeak. He lied. He told the same lie, over and over again, for years. In fact, the White House web site still has the lie, even today (weeks after Fox News pointed it out):
For Americans with insurance coverage who like what they have, they can keep it. Nothing in this act or anywhere in the bill forces anyone to change the insurance they have, period.
The lie was essential to getting his plan enacted, and it was essential for getting him re-elected. (If the election were held today, Romney would win.) They set out deliberately to break a system that most people are satisfied with, and to do it, they needed the people to think it wouldn’t affect them until it was too late to stop it.
With the law they passed, the promise was ultimately unkeepable, but they didn’t even try. Get this:
If you dig into the regulations (go to page 34560) [Scofflaw: OMG, page 34560!], you will see that HHS wrote them extremely tight. One provision says that if co-payment increases by more than $5, plus medical cost of inflation, then the plan can no longer be grandfathered. . . Another provision says the co-insurance rate could not be increased at all above the level it was on March 23, 2010. . . [T]he net effect is that over time, the plans would no longer meet the many tests for staying grandfathered.
And of course Democrats voted unanimously to defeat a Republican bill that would have altered the regulations to allow more people to keep their plans longer.
Were they perhaps unaware of the consequences of their policy? This bunch is so unfamiliar with the law of unintended consequences that you can almost imagine it. But no: the federal government does employ civil servants capable of working through the direct consequences of policy, and they did inform the White House:
Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”
That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.
With a decay rate of 40-67%, you’re down to virtually zero within a very short time. And it’s not just the individual market. The same is true for the employer market, where the government projects that 39-69% of plans will lose their grandfather status.
And it wasn’t just the White House that knew, Congressional Democrats knew as well. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD): “We knew that there would be some policies that would not qualify and therefore people would be required to get more extensive coverage.” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY): “No, we all knew.”