The liberal lament over Republican criticism of President Obama’s health care reform law seems almost quaint given the past few weeks. As it turns out, the biggest problem with Obamacare isn’t Congressional Republicans, it’s Obamacare.
The big story in the first month of the big ACA-rollout was the disastrous state of the website. Reporters literally struggled for days to find just one single, solitary person who had successfully navigated the federal exchange to sign up for insurance. As it turns out, the website is plagued with systemic problems as a result of poorly written code, itself the result of last-minute change requests, no central oversight, politically-motivate decisionmaking, and an utter lack of testing. The site is so balky that IT professionals are recommending dismantling the whole thing and building a new one from the ground up.
But, if anything, the website’s very public problems buried the more important Obamacare-related stories that were roiling beneath the surface. First, came reports that Obamacare would cause the vast majority of Americans to pay higher premiums and face higher deductibles. Next came questions about whether the incentives were properly aligned to get enough young, healthy people to sign up for the exchanges to prevent an insurance death spiral from arising. And now, the media is finally turning their focus to the millions of Americans who are receiving cancellation notices from their insurance companies resulting from Obamacare. NBC News reports:
President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.
Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”
“Let me be exactly clear about what health care reforms means to you,” Obama said in 2009. First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”
But those promises persisted well beyond the campaign trail. As recently as 2012 Obama continued to unequivocally state, “If you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”
Those promises came despite estimates contained in Obamacare regulations that 40 to 67 percent of customers would be kicked off their policy. Now, top Democrats are admitting that they knew Obama’s promises were bunk.
“We knew that there would be some policies that would not qualify and therefore people would be required to get more extensive coverage,” Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told the National Review.
Nevertheless, and in the face of mounds of evidence, the White House is sticking to their guns.
“FACT: Nothing in Obamacare forces people out of their health plans,” senior advisor to President Obama wrote on Twitter in response to the reports. “No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans.”
This is the White House attempting to win a semantics battle because they knew they can’t win a war of commonsense.
To Jarret’s point, the ACA doesn’t specifically require an insurer to cancel an existing plan, but Obamacare makes it nearly impossible to be grandfathered into the old system. That’s because plans lose their grandfathered status if they make a “material change,” which includes raising copays or deductibles. And since even grandfathered plans must comply with a bevy of new mandates, like eliminating lifetime spending caps and the constriction of age banding, which insurers must pay for raising consumer’s contribution, it is nearly guaranteed that plans will lose grandfathered status. For more on that read this excellent explanation by Patrick Brennan at National Review.
Unless he is either wildly aloof or doesn’t understand the bill that is named after him, President Obama’s promise that people would keep their plans is a bald-faced lie.