EDITORIAL: Obamacare's broken promises, cancellations only beginning


As late as Tuesday afternoon, on the official White House website, the very first subsection of a page devoted to the Affordable Care Act — under the heading, “Title I. Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans” — still read as follows: “If You Like the Insurance You Have, Keep It: Nothing in the proposal forces anyone to change the insurance they have. Period.”

It’s astonishing that, even as the president and his administration attempt to spin his stump-speech promise that if you liked your health care plan, you could keep it, the White House hasn’t yet scrubbed its official website of evidence of the statement.

The president’s claim was best dismantled in this week’s Wall Street Journal commentary by San Diego resident Edie Littlefield Sundby, who has survived stage 4 gallbladder cancer for seven years (the five-year survival rate is less than 2 percent) but will now lose the excellent insurance provider ($1.2 million paid out so far) and doctors (in San Diego, at Stanford University and in Houston) who have made her battle successful to this point. And the president’s backers had the gall to tell voters in 2012 that Republican nominee Mitt Romney let people die from cancer.

So how does President Barack Obama respond? In a Monday speech to his own Organizing for Action political nonprofit group, the president said: “What we said was you could keep (that plan) if it hasn’t changed since the law was passed.” That’s not true, and it’s far past time for the president to own up to his oft-repeated lie, rather than claim he said something else.

Worse, though, is that the lie has only begun to be laid bare. On Halloween, at Forbes.com, Avik Roy pointed out the far scarier truth: nearly 80 million Americans could be getting cancellation notices from their employer-based plans by next October, as those companies prepare for Obamacare’s employer mandate to go into effect in January 2015. The plans — like Ms. Sundby’s — have changed enough to no longer qualify for Obamacare’s dubious “grandfather” clause.

And just as with the wave of cancellations now hitting the individual insurance market, the administration knew full well in June 2010 that this would happen. Mr. Roy reports that 156 million Americans — half the population — have employer-sponsored health insurance this year, and the administration’s own commentary in the June 2010 edition of the Federal Register stated that many of these plans will not meet the grandfather clause: “The Departments’ mid-range estimate is that 66 percent of small employer plans and 45 percent of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfather status by the end of 2013.”

Mr. Roy calculates that 79 million Americans could then face cancellation of their employer-based coverage. When added to those who are losing individual market plans, 93 million people — nearly a third of the population — could face cancellation because of Obamacare.

This is what Republicans were trying to stave off during last year’s election and last month’s shutdown. If everything that’s happened to this point isn’t enough to leverage major changes to this law — a growing number of Democrats favor as much — just wait until Election Day 2014, right after tens of millions more Americans find out they can’t keep the plan they like.

 

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