At a White House press conference today, President Obama announced changes to his healthcare law that would give insurance companies the option to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled.
Obama has been under enormous pressure from congressional Democrats to give ground on the cancellation issue under the health care overhaul, an issue likely to be at the center of next year’s mid-term elections for control of the House and Senate. Today’s extension conveniently kicks the problem past next year’s mid-term elections.
Under the new loophole, Mr. Obama will leave it up to state health insurance commissioners to decide which sub-standard plans can still be offered by insurance companies. He pledged that his administration won’t penalize them for still offering those plans even if they don’t meet Obamacare standards. The extension will last only one year.
It’s unclear what the impact of Thursday’s changes will be for the millions of people who have already had their plans canceled. While officials said insurance companies will now be able to offer those people the option to renew their old plans, companies are not required to take that step. And the change does not prevent insurance companies from raising the premiums on the old plans.
Insurance companies will be required to inform consumers who want to keep canceled plans about the protections that are not included under those plans. Customers will also be notified that new options are available offering more coverage and in some cases, tax credits to cover higher premiums.
Under Obama’s plan, insurance companies would not be allowed to sell coverage deemed subpar under the law to new customers, marking a difference with legislation that House Republicans intend to put to a vote on Friday.
Republicans and even some in the media immediately questioned whether the Obama administration had the authority to grant exceptions to the law. They were told by the president that the Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) has “enforcement discretion” that allows for the exception. Yeah, right!
Just yesterday, HSS reported that only 106,000 people have signed up for Obamacare since the website opened on October 1. And that number is highly misleading. Only 27,000 signed up on the federal government’s website, www.healthcare.gov. The other 79,000 signed up on the various state exchanges. Both of these numbers are bogus because they include people who merely selected a plan but haven’t paid the premium for it yet.
Obama Didn’t Really Apologize
The president claims that he apologized to the nation for Obamacare problems and the millions of canceled insurance policies in an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd last week. Here’s a great article from Marc Thiessen, writing in the Washington Post earlier this week, where he explains that what Obama said in the interview was NOT really an apology. He nails it!
There is nothing to focus the presidential mind like finding out that your Gallup approval rating has dropped below George W. Bush’s in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. So little wonder that after spending weeks denying he had promised Americans they could keep their health plans, President Obama finally said the words “I’m sorry.”
But let’s be clear: He didn’t really apologize.
Look closely at what Obama actually said: He did not apologize for misleading the American people. And he did not apologize for people losing the plans he promised they could keep. He apologized that they can’t get into Obamacare.
Obama said, “I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me.” Well, what situation is that, Mr. President? The situation that they can’t access the Obamacare exchanges. The president went on to say, “Keep in mind that most of the folks who got these cancellation letters, they’ll be able to get better care at the same cost or cheaper in these new marketplaces. . . . The majority of folks will end up being better off, of course. Because the Web site’s not working right, they don’t necessarily know it.”
So if you’re one of the 4.8 million people (and counting) who’ve lost their health insurance, congratulations! President Obama thinks you’re better off — you just don’t know it yet.
The problem, in Obama’s telling, isn’t that Americans can’t keep the plans they like — the plans he promised they could keep. The problem is that because the Healthcare.gov Web site does not work, they just can’t see how much better Obamacare really is.
His non-apology apology is revealing, because it underscores what his administration’s 2010 regulations proved — that his plan all along was to force millions of Americans out of the individual market and into Obamacare. He needs those people in the exchanges because most of them are healthy and don’t use a lot of services — and he needs them to join Obamacare so they can subsidize the poor and the sick. His plan all along was to force a seamless, involuntary transfer of millions out of the individual market into the exchanges.
But the White House did not anticipate that the Web site would fail. That’s what the president is “sorry” about. He’s not sorry you lost your plan. He’s not sorry he lied. He’s sorry you can’t get Obamacare. [Emphasis added, GDH.]
CLICK HERE for the full article.