The Oba­macare omelet

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Amer­i­cans who like their doc­tor and health care plans are out of luck. De­spite the em­phatic prom­ises he made not so long ago, Pres­i­dent Obama’s new mes­sage, made in so many words, is the equally em­phatic “You can’t make an omelet with­out break­ing a few eggs.” The Oba­macare omelet is ac­com­pa­nied by the hash the pres­i­dent is mak­ing of the cov­er­age so many peo­ple wanted to keep.

NBC News re­ported last week that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion “has known for at least three years” that mil­lions of Amer­i­cans would get can­cel­la­tion notices from their in­sur­ers, with all thanks to Oba­macare. Four sources cited by the net­work es­ti­mate that be­tween 50 per­cent and 75 per­cent of the 14 mil­lion Amer­i­cans who buy their insurance in­di­vid­u­ally will lose their cov­er­age next year. The fig­ure, in fact, could be closer to 80 per­cent. The new poli­cies they must buy will be more ex­pen­sive — of­ten a lot more.

Right up to the Oct. 1 roll­out of the health­care. gov web­site, the pres­i­dent minced no words in giv­ing re­as­sur­ance. “No one will take it away,” he said in 2009, “no mat­ter what.” Even this week, the health care page on the white­house.gov web­site still in­sists: “If you like your plan, you can keep it, and you don’t have to change a thing due to the health care law.” There’s al­ready a pro­vi­sion in the law grand­fa­ther­ing ex­ist­ing poli­cies, but the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices has care­fully crafted reg­u­la­tions to by­pass the pro­vi­sion, by ex­clud­ing any pol­icy that has been mod­i­fied in any way. But the pres­i­dent, who knows words, said, “no mat­ter what.”

CBS News counts at least 2 mil­lion Amer­i­cans who will be booted from their cov­er­age. That tally in­cludes 279,000 in Cal­i­for­nia, 140,000 in Michi­gan, 300,000 in Florida, and 800,000 in New Jersey. “What I have right now is what I’m happy with,” says Dianne Bar­rette, 56, of Florida, who told CBS that she was in­formed her health care plan didn’t meet Oba­macare stan­dards. Her new plan would cost 10 times more than the $50 a month pre­mium she pays now. “I just want to know why I can’t keep what I have.”

A lot of eggs are go­ing into the Obamelet, and the ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to pre­tend ev­ery­thing is on the way to OK. “Noth­ing in Oba­macare forces peo­ple out of their health plans,” Valerie Jar­rett, the pres­i­dent’s se­nior ad­viser, tweeted Mon­day night. “No change is re­quired un­less insurance com­pa­nies change ex­ist­ing plans.” This is not true. It’s Oba­macare that’s forc­ing the insurance com­pa­nies to “change ex­ist­ing plans.” The House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day will try to get a straight an­swer from Kath­leen Se­be­lius, the sec­re­tary of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, who over­sees the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the health care law.

The com­mit­tee chair­man, Rep. Fred Up­ton of Michi­gan, has in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to make the pres­i­dent’s ini­tial prom­ise an undis­puted mat­ter of law. The sim­ple two-page bill states that any in­di­vid­ual mar­ket cov­er­age in ef­fect on Jan. 1 is au­to­mat­i­cally grand­fa­thered, with no ex­cep­tions. Mr. Obama promised he would be a man of his word, so we can be sure he will sign this into law.

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