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home : opinion : news views April 29, 2016

11/15/2013 11:37:00 PM
ACA May Collapse Under Its Own Weight
Gary Gerard
Times-Union General Manager

It seems as if, “If you like your plan, you can keep it. Period.” will go down as one of the greatest presidential whoppers of all time.
It might even eclipse, “Mission accomplished.”
Or, “Read my lips. No new taxes.”
Or, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.”
To me, it’s really not that big a deal. I mean, do you really think after 35 years of watching politics I’m going to get wound up over a politician being disingenuous?
Please.
That’s akin to being disappointed when it’s cloudy in November in Indiana.
One talking head was bemoaning all the criticism President Barack Obama is taking over this. He said he couldn’t see why the president would want to purposely mislead the American people.
Heck, I’ll tell you why.
If he told the truth, the law never would have passed in the first place.
Can you imagine?
Obama takes the podium, stares through the teleprompter, and says, “I want to tell you about my new health care plan. Now, when we roll this out, tens of millions of you are likely going to lose your health insurance coverage because it’s not going to comply with requirements of this new law we’re passing.
“In addition, if you have a doctor you really like, he may or may not be in the same network your insurance company will be serving and you may not be able to keep him.
“But don’t worry, because you’re probably going to get a better doctor and a better plan through the health care exchanges set up by this law. It’ll probably cost you significantly more, unless you’re young or low-income, but all in all, everything will come out OK in the end. Trust me.”
Think that law would have passed?
It has become almost comical, though, watching Obama’s gyrations with regard to his “signature legislative achievement.”
(I love it when the talking heads on TV call the Affordable Care Act a “signature legislative achievement.”)
In the beginning, of course, was the, “if you like your plan” promise.
But then it became painfully obvious that tens of millions of people would, in fact, not be able to keep their plans.
(As if Obama didn’t see that one coming.)
Can you imagine the conversations in the Obama White House?
Hmm. What to do, what to do ... got it! Let’s blame the insurance companies! Good plan!
So then we were told that the reason those plans were being canceled was because they were crappy plans. So crappy, in fact, that they didn’t comply with the guidelines set out by the ACA.
And that everybody who lost a plan would be better off with a plan under the ACA.
And furthermore, nobody ever said that all the plans could be kept – only the 95 percent that were grandfathered in under ACA.
Trouble is, it seems lots of those plans weren’t really all that crappy after all, and the people who had them knew it. A friend of mine had one of those plans.
He liked his plan. He thought it was a good plan, not a crappy plan. And it came in at around $314 a month. In the letter he got when his insurance company canceled his plan, my friend was offered a plan that would comply with the ACA – for $657 a month.
Oops.
So when all these little anecdotes started flooding into the White House, it was time to adjust the strategy.
Time to say, “I’m sorry.”
So Obama takes to the airwaves and does just that.
He says he feels bad about the fact that so many people are losing their plans and says he’s sorry that they are being put in a rough spot.
(That’s really kind of weird because he just got done telling us these were all crappy plans that we were better off without.)
But never mind.
So Thursday we are told Obama is fixing this for us. He reversed course. Now he’s allowing insurance companies to sell those crappy plans, even if they don’t meet the minimum standards set by the ACA.
OK, allow me to summarize what Obama has told us so far with regard to the ACA. We were told:
• We could keep insurance plans that he knew or should have known we really couldn’t keep because they didn’t comply with his new law.
• Ninety-five percent of us weren’t really ever told we could keep those plans.
• Those are crappy plans anyway and we’re better off without them.
• He’s sorry we’re losing those crappy plans.
• He’s  going to let us keep those crappy plans after all.
What kind of psychobabbling nonsense is this? This is health care policy? I can’t wait to hear what he has to say next.
This has nothing to do with whether the website works or not. This has nothing to do with the relative effectiveness of the ACA. This is about clarity. This is about your health. This is about your government working for you. And, frankly, it’s lunacy.
Some thoughts here.
How can Obama just wave his magic presidential wand and change a huge, pivotal part of his “signature legislative achievement”? Can he just change laws by fiat now? Doesn’t this have to go through Congress?
Seems to me Obama knows there’s no way insurance companies are going to be able to unwind millions of policy cancelations, offer new plans to customers and re-enroll them in 30 days. But this way, he can still keep blaming the insurance companies.
Only half the states expanded Medicaid after the Supreme Court struck down the law’s Medicaid mandate. Obama bagged the employer mandate for a year and now has delayed the minimum coverage requirement. How can these major changes not affect the ACA’s overall functionality?
And amid all this procedural mayhem, we find that some of the ACA “navigators” – the people helping folks sign up for health care – are convicted felons. And some have been encouraging enrollees to lie to get cheaper coverage.
No surprise there, really. The people running this mess are the same ones who claim that showing an ID before voting is a dire infringement. Of course, they wouldn’t check IDs of people hired to collecting a bunch of sensitive personal information from millions of unsuspecting health care consumers.
Here’s the sad thing.
I would like nothing more than for the ACA to be successful. I think affordable health care is a laudable and achievable goal, given the proper legislation and oversight.
My hope is that all the problems with the ACA will shake out over time and that it will truly become a conduit for affordable health care for all Americans.
My concern is that this administration has mucked it up so badly that the ACA may collapse under its own weight.





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