The Purpose of This Bl;og

By and large, liberals are very decent, kind, and compassionate people who genuinely want what is best. This should be kept in mind as we explore the Law of Unintended Negative Consequences near invariably resulting from Leftist big-hearted solutions to societal problems.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Obamacare - Keep Your Plan and Doctor?

This has been a hot topic in the media and on-line discussions throughout the last half of 2013.

Even so, it is an indisputable fact that Obama promised that if you want to keep your plan and doctor, you could keep them. Among many times, in June of 2009 he declared:  "no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”. (As reported HERE and quoted HERE)

Obama wasn't alone in making this guarantee. Leading Democrats have also given similar promises. (See HERE and HERE and HERE)

However, because millions of people have, over the last several months, received insurance plan cancellation notices, and up to 100 million or more are projected to lose their plans (see HERE and HERE and HERE), and millions of other people have been notified of undesirable changes to plans they would prefer to have kept as before, fewer and fewer people these days, even within the sympathetic media, doubt that President Obama broke his promise. (See HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE)

So self-evident is the broken promise that Politifacts has attempted to hide the fact that they rated the promise as "true." (See HERE)

Since there is little controversy over the question in the heading of this post, there is little point in me beating the dead horse--except to note certain related points of disinformation.

For instance, in an attempt to dodge the political blows in response to his broken promise, Obama has gone from denying having made the promise, to feigning ignorance, to acknowledging that the promise was problematic, to claiming that it only applied to individual markets, to feeling sorry that people are in their predicament--while at the same time suggesting they are better off, to vowing to "fix" the problem. (See HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE)

Yet, as Hans Bader points out: "President Obama has recently acted as if the millions of cancellations were a surprise to him, but that is not the case (indeed, the Department of Health and Human Services has long projected in the Federal Register that its narrow interpretation of the Affordable Care Act’s grandfather clause would eliminate a substantial fraction of America’s existing health plans). As Liberty Unyielding notes, 'If you trust Barack Obama to tell the truth (and if you do, have we got a bridge to sell you!), he learned only within the last month or so that millions of Americans would receive cancellation notices from their health insurers. The president even said [so] on Thursday, during his 'confessional' interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd' after 'repeating at least 36 times that if you liked your health care, you could keep your health care.' But 'someone dredged up video of him acknowledging as early as February 2010 — before the bill had even been passed into law — that 8 to 9 million Americans will in fact lose coverage.'  The video can be found here." (See HERE)

NBC reported: "Several insurance industry officials and state insurance commissioners expressed frustration Friday, saying they were “baffled” by President Barack Obama’s assertion that the cancellation of millions of insurance policies occurred because a key provision of the Affordable Care Act didn’t work as expected. The administration was warned three years ago that regulations would have exactly that effect, they said. They said the widespread cancellations in the individual health insurance market — roughly 5 million and counting -- are in line with what was projected under regulations drawn up by the administration in 2010, requirements that both insurers and businesses objected to at the time." (See HERE)

Regarding the claims that the cancellations only impacted a small segment of society, the individual markets (see HERE and HERE), The Washington Times indicates: "The administration and congressional Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, insisted that the only people being affected were “5 percent” of the population who relied on individual insurance plans. Democrats neglected to mention that the 5 percent figure represents 15 million people, but the problem now runs so much deeper....So now we know that several weeks earlier, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department argued in a separate court filing that most group insurance policies would also be cancelled. Grandfather clauses designed to prevent this were specifically mined to be rendered meaningless in most cases." (See HERE)(See also HERE)

Some people, like Zeke Emanuel, one of the primary architects of Obamacare, have gone into deep deniel mode, and have begun spinning it this way:  "The president never said you were going to have unlimited choice of any doctor in the country you want to go to....He didn't say you could have unlimited choice....Yes [Obama did say you could keep your doctor]. If you want to pay more for an insurance company that covers your doctor, you can do that." (See HERE)

The insinuation here, beside falsely suggesting that people have assumed that Obama promised unlimited choices, is that Obama didn't break his promise. People can keep their plans if they are willing to pay more for them.

Now, had Obama said, "You can keep your doctor and plan if you can afford it," then Zeke may have a point.

However, that isn't what Obama said. Rather, in addition to falsely promising to make insurance and health care more affordable (see HERE and HERE), Obama emphatically and unconditionally guaranteed that if people liked their plan and doctor, they can keep them, matter what.

Besides, all the people who have received cancellation notices weren't given a choice to keep their plans if they could afford it. And, Medicare patients certainly won't have a choice in keeping their doctor if their doctor no longer takes Medicare patients because of low reimbursement or other regulatory impediments due to Obamacare. The same is true for people who have been forced out of their current plans and into state insurance exchanges with options that don't include their current doctor. (See HERE) In addition, insurance companies and their customers have no choice in keeping their current plans if those plans don't meet Obamacare requirements. As intimated in a previous post, because of Obamacare, even if people could afford it, many of them will lose the coverage they wanted, and are being forced into new plans with coverage they may not want. (See HERE)

So, Zeke's spin is mistaken in several respects.

Another spin that has been making the rounds takes the form of this statement from Juan Williams of Fox News: "The fact is if you are one of the estimated 2 million Americans whose health insurance plans may have been cancelled this month, you should not be blaming President Obama or the Affordable Care Act. You should be blaming your insurance company because they have not been providing you with coverage that meets the minimum basic standards for health care. Let me put it more bluntly: your insurance companies have been taking advantage of you and the Affordable Care Act puts in place consumer protection and tells them to stop abusing people." (Quoted HERE)

Of course, blame-shifting is nothing new to the Left (see HERE), but it is not always as presumptuous and this transparently duplicitous. Even if Juan were correct about the insurance plans not meeting basic standards and take advantage of and abuse people (this falsity is easily dispelled by recognizing that if the insurance plans were as Juan suggested, people wouldn't want them and state insurance regulators wouldn't have authorized them), the cancellations of the policies weren't because the insurance companies wanted to cancel them any more than the customers wanted them cancelled. The only one's who wanted them cancelled were advocates of Obamacare. In short, the plans were cancelled precisely because of Obamacare.

The irony is, if people were supposedly taken advantage of and abused with the insurance coverage they once had, then wouldn't it be worse for them to lose their insurance coverage altogether? How is it somehow protecting the consumer for Obamacare to cause them to lose their insurance coverage? Seems to me that if anything is taking advantage and abusing consumers, it is Obamacare.

Another spin is one that takes various forms in claiming that insurance plans were being cancelled long before Obamacare. It isn't anything new. So, what's the problem? (See HERE)

In principle, this is like were a vengeful lover, being tried for vandalism, to dismissively assert that automobile fuel filters have been clogged and engines scored long before he began pouring sugar in gas tanks. So, what's the problem?

Yes, insurance plans have been cancelled in the past, but not to the same extent or for the same reasons as plans for millions have been cancelled in recent time. What's the problem? Clearly, it is Obamacare.

Still another spin is that, besides the cancellations only affecting the individual markets (see above), the plans that have been or will be cancelled were only those created after passage of the Affordable Care act, and were thus not grandfathered. "After all, President Obama did not promise people that he would keep insurers from developing new plans that will not comply with the provisions of the ACA." (See HERE)

This, too, is demonstrably false. According to the Washington Times: "Grandfather clauses designed to prevent [cancellation of plans people like] were specifically mined to be rendered meaningless in most cases. The words of the Justice Department lawyers are unmistakable. 'It is projected that more group health plans will transition to the requirements under the regulations as time goes on … Defendants have estimated that a majority of group health plans will have lost their grandfather status by the end 2013.'” (See HERE)(See also HERE)

Lisa Myers of NBC has said: "At issue is a so-called 'grandfather' clause in the law stating that consumers would have the option of keeping policies in effect as of March 23, 2010,  even if they didn’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed after that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered....In comments filed in August and December 2010, America’s Health Insurance Plans -- a trade group representing 1,300 insurance plans — urged the administration to “reconsider” grandfathering rules because they were too stringent to allow many to keep their policies." (See HERE)

As evidence that the "grandfather clause" was relatively meaningless, in light of the millions of cancellations that have already occurred, and the more than 100 million cancellation looming on the horizon (see HERE and HERE and HERE), President Obama imposed a so-called "fix" where insurance companies would be allowed to renew policies for another year that don't meet Obamacare requirements. (See HERE and HERE) Regardless of whether the "fix" will work or make things worse (see HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE), and regardless of the questionable constitutionality of "fix" (see HERE and HERE and HERE), if the policies were legitimately grandfathered to begin with, the "fix" would not have been politically necessary.

So, in spite of all the feigned ignorance and apologies and dismissals and spins and propaganda and evasive political dancing, the simple LUNC here is that people were guaranteed that they could keep the plans and doctors they want, and now they can't--at least not after a year, and Obama and others knew before hand that they couldn't.

For an explanation as to why these Leftist LUNCs occur, please see: Gov: Wrong Tool for the Right Job - Introduction and Cold Nanny as well as The Politics of Compassion, Emotions, Ignorance, Denial, Blame-Shifting, and Victimization

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