Obamacare

NBC reports that White House knew about health care cancellations from the start, with President Obama’s promise now sounding very hollow. [screen capture from Daily Show]

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.” [NBC News]

IT WAS the line that President Obama said loudly and often, that if people like their current coverage they would be able to keep it. Full. Stop. In the latest firestorm over Obamacare this is what matters to people currently experiencing the cancellation of their insurance policies, because they don’t cover the new normal in what a health insurance policy is expected to cover. It doesn’t matter that most people aren’t affected. What matters is that what President Obama said isn’t reality now that Obamacare is here.

The right blasted out Ronald Reagan’s rebel daughter’s response, Patti Reagan, to this reality out of California yesterday.

What the NBC News report by Lisa Meyers really means is that the health care law had this grandfather issue in it all along, but also that because existing plans would be substandard to what ACA requires, these health care plans would be rendered non-compliant with the new law. At the heart of this story is either ignorance of what was in ACA, or disingenuousness, with lawmakers either unwilling or not equipped to warn people, while President Obama was willing to falsely tell people they could keep their health insurance, evidently hoping the insurance companies would provide fuller coverage for the grandfathered prices. Yeah, that was going to happen.

The text of NBC’s “news” and what’s unfolding right now was there all along. So, you have to wonder where Republicans have been, but specifically, why Mitt Romney’s team in 2012 didn’t trumpet this from the rooftops.

From NBC’s report:

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.

There are objective facts to support that this was known earlier and that the White House openly disclosed this fact as well. Think Progress provides them. It’s just that it doesn’t wipe away the promise from President Obama’s lips. Below is the screen capture, as well as Senator Mike Enzi calling the White House out on what’s developing now through NBC’s report.

From Think Progress

From Think Progress

The goal of grandfather regulations is to allow a consumer to keep their existing policies, while also ensuring that there are some basic patient protections built into these plans. If insurers make changes that significantly burden enrollees with lower benefits and increased costs they have to come into compliance with all consumer protections. Therefore, policies lose their grandfathered status if insurers cancel coverage when a person becomes ill, impose lifetime limits on benefits, eliminate all benefits for a particular condition and reduce the cap for covered services each year, among other changes. (In fact, in November of 2010, the federal government loosened some of these standards.)

President Obama knew that people wouldn’t be able to keep their health care plans if they didn’t comply with the new standard set by ACA, because he’s a smart man and had to realize that health insurers weren’t going to provide broader coverage without a higher price. That’s capitalism 101, which the insurance industry knows inside and out. The insurance companies wrote the bill that had the White House signing on to what big pharama and the insurance industry needed to get it done. Getting health care passed to begin to cover the uninsured and spread the cost of coverage across the American population was the goal, because health care is breaking this country.

Progressives pushing for Medicare for all, single payer, also knew this day was coming, but they lost the fight before it started, because Obama made the deals with big pharma and the insurance industry early on. I was never for single payer, or ACA, though parts of what it does are important and substantial, because I didn’t think single payer could get through Congress, but was instead for a piece meal approach to widening health care, so that the American public would understand each update to our broken system.

ACA was never going to land with anything other than a thud. That lawmakers are now proven as ignorant and unprepared to deal with what would happen when it did is now playing out in real time.