Friday, November 15, 2013

How Obamacare broke it's promise to America but tried to keep it to the health insurance companies.

In spite of everything being said in the media, Obama's broken promise wasn't "if you like your health plan you can keep it".  The mainstream news media proving again to be inept and incompetent, still haven't realized Obama made that statement in town hall meetings promoting the public option in June, July and August of 2009, not about Obamacare which didnt even exist at the time.

 It was never a promise to being with. It was a statement Obama made to rebut Republican disinformation that the public option was " a government take over of health care". In response Obama tried (weakly) to make the point that the public option was just that -- an option being offered that people could take or leave. It was going to be a choice on the insurance exchanges. No one would be forced to enroll in the public option.  In his words at the time, the public option was something they could choose instead of their current insurance but if they liked their current health plan they could keep it (Obama could have said, " if you like your health insurance there is something sincerely wrong with you since you are being price gouged, dropped,  excluded if you have a pre-existing condition, your benefits are capped, you are forced to pay high deductibles and are generally getting screwed". He could have said that but he didnt.)

 What's interesting about the current media storm over this "promise", if not actually amusing, is that with Obamacare unraveling more each day, not just with the web site but with predictably anemic enrollments as it was destined to with sticker shock rates for limited coverage for the previously uninsured (yes I know, somewhere in Kankakee Illinois there is a woman who got a good deal - spare me the link to DailyKos) Obama has decided he would rather take all this hell from the news media, Republicans and some Democrats about a "broken promise" he never originally made about Obamacare rather than remind people  that he had first said it about the public option and replaced it to appease the health insurance industry who in the end was instrumental in writing Obamacare as admitted by Karen Ignani, chief lobbyist for the health insurance industry in the Frontline documentary, "Obama's Deal".

And he also probably doesn't want to remind people that none of the problems plaguing Obamacare now would have ever happened under the public option. There would have been no cancellation of policies because there would have been no mandate that insurance companies do anything to improve their policies. All of those mandates and a lot more were already incorporated in the public option. Insurance companies could either change their policies on their own, voluntarily in order to compete, or risk losing customers to the public option which was going to offer much more comprehensive coverage and no exclusions at a fraction of the price. Exactly what Republicans , always the defenders of big business wanted to prevent.

 At the time poll after poll showed that more people wanted the public option than wanted Obama to be president. The last polls taken in February of 2010 after all the misinformation and lies Republicans were allowed to get away without media rebuttal,  ("death panels" and "pulling the plug on grandma" to name two) all showed 58% wanted the public option. Obama was elected with 54% of the vote. And still Obama caved in and congressional Democrats stupidly went along.

Which is why, unless Democrats do the right thing now and start doing it soon,  they will be in big trouble in 2014. As much trouble as they were in 2010 when they were wiped out of congress because of their failure to deliver on the public option when they had the votes. And the right thing is to start telling the truth -- that what they really wanted to pass was the public option (true), that they had the votes but that Obama capitulated to the health insurance industry and that it was a mistake to go along.  And the real fix is to do what should have been done in the first place and replace Obamacare with genuine healthcare reform with the public option, which would provide low cost comprehensive health care to everyone who wanted it while lowering health care costs ( something Obamacare doesnt even touch) and at the same time according to the CBO, lowering the deficit by $160 billion. There would have been many other economic benefits as well to individuals as well as business.

So  Obama's real broken promise had nothing to do with canceled policies. It was dropping the public option in what amounted to the biggest bait and switch in the history of  government policy. And Obama doesn't want to remind anyone of any of this.

Ironically, or maybe not so ironically,  Obama is now breaking his promise to the health insurance industry too, trying to undo the mandate for minimum standards for coverage that insurance companies must offer.   He wants insurance companies to allow holders of the old policies with the old coverage to keep them to get out from under the political heat. The insurance companies have said that could  be a disaster and could destabilize the markets since their current premiums and coverages have all been based on those policies being changed with new premiums to go with them.

In other words Obamacare is a mess on every front, getting worse, and unraveling by the minute and it cant be saved. Nor should it. When those who blindly endorse it compare it what was before, they are missing the point. Obamacare needs to be compared to the public option and what could have been, not what went before which included absurdities like $75 for an asprin if you were hospitalized.

When the web site does get up and running and the enrollments continue to be so small as to completely destroy the concept (all 32 million uninsured have to buy in or Obamacare doesn't work) , this mess of a healthcare law will finally sink under its own weight.The question will be how soon will Democrats use the lifeboats and do they have anyone who knows how to navigate them. Pelosi doesn't, and based on history there arent too many Democratic strategists who know either.

 Nancy Pelosi, who in 2008 said that Obama "had the judgement to be president from day one"  deserves a lot of the blame. She had once said that the public option that was "the centerpiece of healthcare reform". In the end, she caved to Obama's cave in, forcing Democrats opposed to Obamacare into voting for something they didnt like. Compare that to how Tea Party conservatives in the House refuse to vote for anything they feel is at odds with their agenda even if it means opposing their own Speaker.

 Pelosi led Democrats over the cliff in the 2010 elections  by  betraying her own conscience and the promises Democrats made, and predicably, Democrats were wiped out  in 2010 because of it by not passing the public option.

 What happened in 2010 could happen in 2014 unless Democrats do the right thing, find some strategists that know how,  support the public option as the only real fix, and keep their promise to the American people to have the healthcare reform they should have passed in the first place. And keep up the attack on Republicans for not wanting any. They can't continue to support Obamacare, a policy even Howard Dean had called "junk". Even if it means throwing Obama and Obamacare under the bus. Better late than never.

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