Let me say first that anyone who believed Obama was telling the truth when he promised “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” was naive.
And that’s an understatement. Not just naive; gullible.
Or perhaps just plain stupid.
Why did he say it? To sooth the public, calm the waters of protest, and make Obamacare acceptable. That it didn’t really work—that Obamacare has remained unpopular from before its passage to the present—doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying to make it sound more pleasing and less disruptive to people’s lives.
Perhaps he thought that once Obamacare actually was implemented people would like it better, especially the ones receiving subsidies. That’s potentially a large portion of the American public and a large redistribution of wealth. Perhaps he thought that, as more older policies were canceled or changed, and more and more people came on the exchanges and many received subsidies as well, it would sweeten the deal. Or perhaps his goal all the time was to create a demand for single payer, and to do that he had to break a few health insurance policy omelets without warning the public it was about to happen.
One thing we do know is that his promise was a lie, as in “a statement the speaker knows to be false while uttering it.” NBC News, of all people, is reporting that:
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.”
None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.
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.
Yet President Obama, who had promised in 2009, “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan,” was still saying in 2012, “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”
“This says that when they made the promise, they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” said Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms.
I doubt this would come as a surprise to any reader of this blog—or to anyone who hasn’t just dropped down from planet Xenon. Did it come as a surprise to NBC News?
Anyway, Jay Carney has an answer—it’s just not an answer to the question asked:
Today, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked about the president’s promise that consumers would be able to keep their health care. “What the president said and what everybody said all along is that there are going to be changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act to create minimum standards of coverage, minimum services that every insurance plan has to provide,” Carney said. “So it’s true that there are existing healthcare plans on the individual market that don’t meet those minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act.”
So, you didn’t really hear the promise you thought you heard. And of course, we did the bait and switch For Your Own Good.
[NOTE: By the way, I first noticed this propensity of Obama’s in June of 2008, in regard to campaign financing. He broke an oft-repeated promise, blamed the Republicans, and got away with it.
It also might be time to revisit this, from November of 2009:
Cons, like Obama, are ordinarily out to deceive people as to their true purposes. But it’s an error to think they come across as sleazy. The most effective ones are unusually likeable and charming, even as they pull off their scams. This likeability is not a tangential characteristic of con artists, either; it is a central one.
“Con,” after all, is short for “confidence.” The con artist works by gaining the victim’s confidence and trust. The successful con artist is so very likeable, in fact, that he seems especially credible, and people who might otherwise be wary and cynical drop their guard around him. They don’t examine him too closely, so great is their desire to believe.
Contradictions are waved away. Acts that would arouse suspicion if they were committed by someone else are excused. Important omissions go unnoticed. Inconsistencies are rationalized. Shady company is defended or ignored. Sound familiar?]