ObamaCare kills a million plans
It seems like only yesterday that the corrupt Democrat Party was loudly insisting that the people who lost their insurance policies under ObamaCare were a bunch of “red herrings” and “Chicken Littles,” to quote two phrases they employed during congressional hearings. They claimed the problem of insurance cancellations under ObamaCare was wildly inflated. When that didn’t work any more, they reverted to the cold default argument of socialism, and claimed the “losers” of ObamaCare – the people who believed Barack Obama’s Big Lie about being able to keep their insurance plans – were mere collateral damage, acceptable losses during the Great Health Care Leap Forward. They made loud, false claims that the plans lost to the Affordable Care Act were junk policies that consumers were foolish to have bought in the first place.
They even tried rewriting history and claiming Obama had always said… or meant… or silently believed in his heart… this would always happen. The Democrats even tried arguing that it was our fault for accepting the plain meaning of Obama’s words, when we should have read the bill none of them read before voting on it and understood that he was, shall we say, de-emphasizing certain unattractive truths. We should have known better, even though the massed ranks of the media closed in around Obama like a Praetorian guard of propaganda. We should have ignored the billion-dollar “news” racket and read the Affordable Care Act ourselves, cover to cover, discovering with our own eyes that millions of people were going to lose their coverage, no matter what Barack Obama said. We should have known his Health and Human Services Department would later issue regulations that made his promises of “grandfathering” existing new policies into the system functionally meaningless. The hot new lefty talking point became “Obama mis-spoke,” but what they really meant was, “You mis-heard him.”
All of these dodges, evasions, excuses, and lies piled atop lies flickered past in the space of just a few weeks. You can tell it didn’t work because top Democrats are swan-diving off the high rails of the Titanic, abandoning those old talking points like so much rubbish left behind in their staterooms. Yesterday it was Bill Clinton bailing on Obama and calling for legislation that would force Obama to live up to the Big Lie, by allowing people to keep their existing insurance plans. Now it’s Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) – another one of the power-mad Democrats who was proud to vote on ObamaCare without reading it, and now wants to throw her weight behind the bill introduced by terrified Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to protect existing insurance policies. From Fox News:
“The Affordable Care Act is a good law, but it is not perfect,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I believe the Landrieu bill is a commonsense fix that will protect individuals in the private insurance market from being forced to change their insurance plan.”
The involvement of Feinstein in the push to restore canceled policies adds considerable pressure on the Obama administration to address those concerns. The president is rapidly facing questions and concerns from members of his own party about the law’s rollout.
Feinstein said she has received 30,842 calls, emails and letters from constituents about the cancellations and premium increases. A man from Rancho Mirage, her office said, told Feinstein that he is being forced to spend over $400 more per month for a similar policy.
“I believe consumers should be allowed to choose their plans, and they should be adequately informed about those choices,” Feinstein said. “Consumers must be told what their coverage does and does not include so families don’t find themselves paying for an insurance policy they believe is comprehensive when in fact it is not.”
Well, it’s really a pity you didn’t read the Affordable Care Act before your party used a disgusting series of backroom deals and kickbacks to force it into law, isn’t it Senator Feinstein? Your Party’s official line the day before yesterday was that none of this was happening, and those 30,000 people yelling at your office were just red herrings. Yesterday you were saying we should have known this was coming all along. You shut down the government to protect ObamaCare from repeal and reform efforts led by people who understood ObamaCare far better than anyone in your Party, and fought desperately to prevent it.
Instead of wasting all that time on their usual playbook to demonize Republicans and belittle the Americans who were suffering from your policies, maybe the Democrats could have implemented these “commonsense reforms” back when it was still possible to avert the chaos occurring before our eyes. But no, they pretended it wasn’t happening, and fought to control political spin until the last possible moment… a moment that appears to have arrived for Dianne Feinstein when she got the go-ahead from Bill Clinton, hard on the heels of the California insurance commissioner admitting that a million people in that state alone have lost their insurance plans due to ObamaCare. A hundred thousand of them were lucky enough to get a two-month extension from Anthem Blue Cross, because some of the 90-day cancellation notices weren’t sent out on time.
The L.A. Times just ran another of those increasingly commonplace stories about confused, angry Obama voters who lost her insurance to the Affordable Care Act, Margaret Davis of West L.A. She’s one of the 30,000 people who wrote to Feinstein… and California’s other Democrat senator, Barbara Boxer, and President Obama. She didn’t hear back from any of them, so please spare us your tedious posturing as a concerned tribune of the people, Senator Feinstein.
“I’m a 55-year-old woman in excellent health and have a catastrophic health plan,” Davis wrote in the letter Feinstein’s office didn’t bother responding to. “I am completely happy with my plan. I received notice that the plan is being canceled and that to stay with a “comparable” plan my premiums would increase 88%, or $200 extra per month. To add insult to injury, the plan is INFERIOR to my existing plan.” According to the L.A. Times excerpt of her letter, the caps were in the original.
The only politician Davis got a response from was Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who she addressed in frustration after Feinstein, Boxer, and Obama blew her off. Don’t get your hopes up, Ms. Davis, because Bass is just another Democrat spin artist who “worries that the problems will further embolden critics who were determined from the beginning to do a grave dance on healthcare reform,” as the Times helpfully summarizes her feelings.
Hundreds of people attended a town hall conference hosted by Bass on Sunday in West L.A. She said some attendees were in the same situation as Davis and not very happy about it; others were confused by their options. Bass said many were assisted as they enrolled in new plans through the state exchange, Covered California.
“But overall, people were like Margaret,” said Bass, who called Davis on Tuesday to discuss her case. “They really want this to work, and they’re just trying to figure it out.”
Which hasn’t been all that easy for Davis, an accountant and software consultant who couldn’t believe “how botched up” the healthcare.gov website was, among other problems.
And would anyone be shocked if insurance companies were trying to take advantage of all the confusion?
Ah, so maybe Rep. Bass didn’t read that letter from Margaret Davis after all. Because she’s not a hopeful acolyte of the new Church of Socialized Insurance who can’t figure things out. She understands it perfectly. She’s angry that her old plan is gone, contrary to Barack Obama’s explicit promises, and the replacement options are both more expensive and INFERIOR. And California’s vaunted insurance exchanges were useless to her. The story goes on to explain that she had to look up a private broker – you know, the people who couldn’t be trusted to manage health insurance any more, so a billion-dollar government bureaucracy had to take over. He found her a plan that “essentially splits the difference between her current Kaiser plan and the replacement plan.”
The insurance broker told the Times that about 70 percent of his clients are “paying anywhere from a little bit more to a lot more for plans that are inferior to what they had, better than what they had, or about the same,” which of course is the opposite of what Barack Obama repeatedly promised would happen. And a very common feature of the new ObamaCare plans – described as “the most striking change” the broker is seeing – is the loss of existing doctors and hospitals.
By the way, the last line quoted above, about insurance companies “trying to take advantage of the confusion,” is a pure editorial insertion by the L.A. Times, completely unsupported by anything else in the article. Talking points are apparently still flowing from the Democratic National Committee to helpful media outlets.
On Monday, Steven Hayward (no relation) at Forbes predicted that “ObamaCare will be repealed well in advance of the 2014 elections.” He supposes it won’t be called “repeal,” but that’s what it will amount to in practice:
Senate Democrats endangered for re-election will lead the charge for repeal perhaps as soon as January, after they get an earful over the Christmas break. They’ll call it “reform,” and clothe it in calls for delaying the individual mandate and allowing people and businesses to keep their existing health insurance policies. But it is probably too late to go back in many cases. With the political damage guaranteed to continue, the momentum toward repeal will be unstoppable. Democrats will not want to face the voters next November with the albatross of ObamaCare.
Hayward got some static for making such a bold prediction, but just a few days later, here’s Dianne Feinstein doing exactly what he predicted, after getting the nod from Bill Clinton. And let’s make no bones about it: a bill that lets people keep their policies, like Landrieu’s or the bill Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) has introduced in the House, is tantamount to repeal, or more precisely, the first step in an inexorable process that will lead to effective repeal. ObamaCare cannot survive unless it forces millions of people into its badly-designed system. The lesson from all these anguished cries about lost insurance plans, and their expensive, INFERIOR replacements – is that ObamaCare cannot compete with the old policies. Very few people will choose Obama’s scheme voluntarily, and most of those who do are expensive, older, sicker loss leaders.
The insurance companies participating in ObamaCare cannot survive with such a business model, especially if a “keep your plan if you like it” bill is accompanied by a delay in the individual mandate, due to the incredible and outrageous failure of the federal exchange website. An unnamed official with “knowledge of the project” just told the Washington Post that HealthCare.gov is “unlikely to work fully by the end of the month as the White House has promised,” which will mean another Obama lie is exposed, another flailing effort to drag this trillion-dollar disaster through a couple of news cycles falls apart, and more egg is deposited on the faces of everyone who imposed this nightmare on us.
Couple this with the sensational stories about “limitless” security risks – and what appears to have been an orchestrated effort to keep them secret from both the American people and the HealthCare.gov project managers – and full repeal of ObamaCare increasingly becomes the “commonsense” reform we need, to borrow a word from one of the very nervous Democrats who sees pitchforks and torches glittering in the night. Even if the effort to fix the $500 million pile of garbage deposited by Obama’s cronies is eventually successful, a couple of stories about hacking and identity theft will finish off whatever remains of the web-savvy Young Invincibles’ desire to use the system and queue up for their fleecing. It’s absurd – absolutely daft – to keep this misbegotten monstrosity on life support for another day. It didn’t work, Democrats. Let it go.
Update: Here’s Ted Cruz on “Fox and Friends,” ably making the same points about repeal. ”Stopping ObamaCare is the height of pragmatism,” said the Senator. ”We need to stop it and start over, because it isn’t working.” (Hat tip: The Right Scoop.)
Cruz thinks Bill Clinton threw Obama under the bus yesterday to help Hillary distance herself from the ObamaCare disaster, which is probably going to be a tough sell, given her longstanding association with even more wrongheaded “reform” ideas. Then again, Democrats have always relied upon the very short memories of their voters. Whatever Bill Clinton’s motivations were, it seems inevitable that a lot of Democrats will receive precisely the kind of “signal” from his action (and now Feinstein’s defection) that Cruz talks about. The willingness of the Democrat Party to defend ObamaCare to the death is rapidly degrading.
Update: Erick Erickson makes the point that if Republicans push Rep. Upton’s “keep your plan” bill through in the House, the odious Harry Reid will pull a little bait-and-switch in the Senate, and we’ll end up with Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu’s bill – which is unacceptably coercive toward insurance companies, and would give Landrieu undeserved political cover.
I fully agree with the latter point. All Democrat bills to “fix” ObamaCare should be 100 percent dead-duck non-starters, because as Barack Obama famously put it once upon a time, the people who created this mess shouldn’t do a lot of talking right now.
As to the former, Erick is right about the unacceptable betrayal of free-market conservative principles in forcing insurance companies to issue policies that no longer make business sense, thanks to ObamaCare mandates. And Republicans really do not want their fingerprints on this disaster. I think delaying the individual mandate is just the right thing to do, and failing to get Republican cards on that table would only come back to haunt them later, when Democrats portray them as heartless for forcing people to pay a tax/penalty they couldn’t possibly avoid. But the GOP should have nothing to do with “fixing” this disaster. Repeal is the path, the only “common sense reform” America needs. Having said that, I tend to think a “fix” like Landrieu’s would only accelerate the death spiral that leads to inevitable repeal.