Monday, June 16, 2014

A Truthful Guide to Obama's Lies About Obamacare.

With Obamacare certain to be an issue in the upcoming elections, it's important for Democrats in particular to be aware of what's true and what isn't so as not to stick their necks out and needlessly cost themselves the election. Briefly that means ignore everything Nancy Pelosi has to say and remember it was Pelosi and her concessions to Obama in dropping the public option that led Democrats over the cliff in the 2010 elections which I predicted in Februrary of 2010.

It's fair to say that when it comes to Obamacare, no policy has been the basis for more lies from both the conservative right and what is euphemistically called  "progressives" since Bush lied the country into war in Iraq.

It's almost as if the Tea Party lunatics on the right, and the Obama sycophants on the left are singing the same song: any lie you can tell I can tell better, I can tell any lie better than you.

The joke's on both sides. The right has been lying about any and all healthcare reform from the beginning and tried to compare lowering the costs of healthcare and making it more widely available to those who don't have it to Nazi Germany. Not exactly a winning or endearing strategy to the majority of Americans.

On the so called progressive side,  most are oblivious to the fact that  Obamacare is not just a rank failure, but a right wing conservative idea first proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation 17 years ago, adopted by Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts(and executed better than Obamacare), capitulated to by Obama,  and is now a monumental failure on a national basis. Obama sycophants on the popular left wing web sites would be tearing Obamacare to shreds for it's failure in doing what healthcare reform was supposed to do had it been the product of a Republican president. And the right would be praising it. So the joke on both sides is that conservatives have been attacking a right wing conservative  idea and the left has been defending it. 

Without a doubt the reform that should have and could have been passed in the first place was the public option. It was what the majority of Americans wanted and it would have given people with or without coverage the option to enroll in a Medicare-like alternative to quality health coverage at a fraction of the cost of private insurance. And for conservatives who just love what they pay to insurance companies and what they get for their money, they could continue merrily along with their current insurance that had caps, exclusions for pre-existing conditions and a whole lot of other wonderful benefits for the insurance companies. Instead, Obama buckled to those insurance companies and dropped the public option which had the votes to pass and instead capitulated to the insurance industry lobby's preference for healthcare reform. And this, known as Obamacare, is the worst of all possible worlds. A mandate to buy insurance from the very people who were part of the problem and who offer as little as possible for as much as possible. It was turning the chicken coop over to the foxes.

But amid all the lies told about Obamacare,  because he is the president, the lies that matter most are those of Obama. And so here for the benefit of Democrats running in November, so they know what's true and what isn't, what they can defend and what they can't,  are Obama's most blatant and egregious lies about Obamacare and it's failures that Democrats ignore at their own peril.


Progressive web sites are constantly repeating this number and so does the news media as if it has any semblance to reality and truth.  They repeat it only because Obama says so,  like some kind of "Simon Says" game called "Obama Says" and they simply repeat it. The actual number is far short of 8 million. And Obama has always known it.

Based on the final numbers, 20% of those who enrolled never sent in their 1st premium payment, invalidating their enrollment and reducing the actual number of enrollments to about 6.4 million.  What brings the number down even lower is that of the 6.4 million valid enrollments, that is, people who purchased insurance policies through the exchanges,  many were duplicate enrollments by people who, because of problems on the web site, enrolled two or three times. 

The exact number of duplicate enrollments hasn't been tabulated but guesses are it will bring the actual number of people who purchased healthcare plans down to 6 million or under,  far short of  the 8 million claimed by Obama and far short of the original and   preposterously low, politically motivated goal of  7 million set by the Obama administration, a goal set so low, most in the Obama administration thought it impossible not to be met.  It wasn't met.

But what makes the 8 million a lie and not simply a matter of having not had all the facts is, Obama knew that the 8 million figure was false. The 15- 20% invalid enrollments had been going on for 5 1/2 months and remained constant ever since the exchanges went live. And within days after the exchanges closed, even before all the numbers were in, Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced that 15-20% of their enrollments were invalid.

But lies and padded numbers aside, the biggest problem is that in terms of what healthcare reform was supposed to do, the numbers show Obamacare is a massive failure.

More than 75% of those 6+million who purchased insurance through the exchanges were in the category of people who already had insurance.  Obamacare hasn't made a dent in the 50 million Americans who didn't have insurance, most of whom are Democratic constituents and the people healthcare reform was designed to help the most. The best that can be said about Obamacare is expanded Medicaid which wouldn't have even been necessary under a public option, and remains optional on a state by state basis, so some eligible people get it and some don't.


Obama made this claim at a news conference  in 2010 when a reporter asked him about health care reform that didn't have the public option. Obama became exceptionally testy possibly feeling defensive that he had sold out the public option in a cave in to the health insurance lobby.

The 32 million Obama was referring to were the younger, healthier uninsured Obamacare needs to be sustainable and to keep premiums for everyone else from skyrocketing even further. But Obama didn't get health insurance for 32 million people. Not then, not now. Probably not ever as long as Obamacare stays in its present form. 

Of the 6 million who purchased insurance, the overwhelming majority, as pointed out,  were people who already had insurance. Only 1.2% of the 50 million previously uninsured bought policies according to the Gallup Well Being Index,  with 28% of that in the category of the younger healthier population. How many of those were previously uninsured is about 2.8%. Simply put, of the 32 million Obamacare was supposed to attract, more than 31 million said no thanks. Which could produce an October Surprise for Democrats when insurance companies unveil their premiums for 2015 in the fall. 

One reason the number was so low among the uninsured was because of the substandard policies being offered through Obamacare on the lowest tiers - silver and bronze --  those designed to attract the younger healthier uninsured, but offering little coverage for high premiums and $6,000 deductibles, something the White House admitted to the NY Times. In other words, the low end policies designed to appeal to those without insurance, in a word, stunk.


One of the most brazen lies in the history of  presidential policies. Obama made this absurd, provably dishonest statement twice in interviews after Obamacare was passed.  He told Jim Leherer of PBS,  "I got 95% of everything I wanted in this bill". When Leherer reminded him there was no public option Obama said, " I never campaigned for the public option".

The next day  You Tubes exploded all over the Internet  showing  Obama campaigning for the public option and/ or a single payer system as far back as 2007 and after being elected, continuing  through the end of 2009 selling and defending the public option in one town hall meeting after another.


This came on the heels of Obama's false 8 million enrollment announcement. Even if the figure had been correct it would still have been evidence of a monumental failure of policy and proof that Obamacare was not working.

Healthcare reform was supposed to do two things: make healthcare and healthcare coverage more widely available to the 50 million Americans who didn't have it, and bring down the obscenely high cost of healthcare for those who did. Obamacare did neither.

After the first year of the Affordable Care Act, of the 50 million who didn't have health insurance, the number dropped from 17.1%  of Americans to 15.9%  according to the Gallup Well Being Index. As a frame of reference of just how well Obamacare is working, the number of people without health coverage in 2008 was 14.9% . So its actually 1% higher now after Obamacare than the year before Obama took office.

And now we are finding out that of those who purchased policies and qualified for subsidies --the government windfall Obama handed to the insurance companies to help those who are eligible pay for these substandard polices -- there are problems with 2 million applications, a staggering one third of all those who purchased insurance. According to the New York Times, two million applications for subsidies are now being called into question because the information supplied about income and other factors that would qualify someone for goverment subsidies do not match the information the government already has regarding these individuals. Which could  invalidate the polices or eventually invalidate the subsidies. And without the subsidies most of these people would probably cancel the insurance bringing down the actual number of people who bought policies even lower, probably to under 6 million.  Possibly even under 5 million.

In other words, another mess  and one that would have been avoided had Obama not caved in and sold out the public option. There would have been no need for subsidies since the public option had nothing to do with private insurance policies.

As for lowering the cost of health care, the second major problem healthcare reform was supposed to solve,  Obama tries to claim as success that the already ridiculously high cost of health care will keep getting more ridiculous but at a slower rate.


Everybody can hum along with this one. But it isn't the lie most people think it is and it isn't the lie Republicans and news media made it out to be. Because Obama never said that about Obamacare.   That's right. He never said it about Obamacare. He said it repeatedly in town hall meetings in 2009 about the public option, the healthcare reform he claims he never campaigned for.

Obama said it repeatedly in response to Republican attacks that the public option was a government take over of healthcare. In response Obama said it was no such thing,  that it was an option, that people could choose it or not choose it, that no one would be forced to enroll in the public option instead of traditional health insurance, that it was an individual choice and " if you like your health insurance you can keep your health insurance".

That Obama  preferred to take the massive political hit to his approval rating,  his credibility, his trustworthiness and integrity and at the same time put Democrats'  running  in November with their backs to the wall in having to defend it  rather than set the record straight and admit he said it about the public option not Obamacare, which in turn would remind people that he sold out the public option, which in turn would have invited comparisons between what we have now and what we could have had,  tells you all you need to know about what Obama thinks of Obamacare vs. the public option as a policy.

That admission would have revived talk about what happened to the public option, something Obama was willing to take a major political hit to avoid.  It also shows he was willing to throw Democrats under the bus to protect himself and he put them in a position of having to defend a broken promise about Obamacare he never made.

Obama decided he would rather take the political hit and put Democrats backs to the wall on Obamacare rather than bring up what he claimed he never campaigned for but did and then invite comparisons of what could have been.

The solution for Democrats in 2014? Don't try to defend Obamacare.  The 48 million still without healthcare coverage, most of whom are probably Democratic constituents, won't take kindly to being told how Obamacare is working. Admit its failings but also remind people that the public option which Democrats had the votes to pass would have been the better policy had Obama not dropped it.  Draw a line in the sand between themselves and Obama on the public option and pledge to bring it back.  Most incumbents can point to having voted for a public option  since it had already passed the House but was dropped when Pelosi capitulated to Obama.

 Refusing to defend Obamacare also takes it away from Republicans as an issue against congressional Democrats.  Democrats can admit the truth about Obamacare's shortcomings and failures and still emphasize the need for better healthcare reform and the public option. They can also point out that Republicans opposed real  healthcare reform of any kind from the beginning.

If this means throwing Obama and Obamacare under the bus,  congressional Democrats would only be returning the favor. Pledge to replace Obamacare with the public option if Democrats regain control of the House and this time do it.  And ignore everything Nancy Pelosi has to say about running on Obamacare. If she says "affordable" one more time to the 48 million who still can't afford healthcare coverage and those paying exhorbitant premiums for coverage,  she is going to sound a lot less like FDR and a lot more like Marie Antoinette.

ADDENDUM: In a June 25th story on Huffington Post we are learning that, far from Obamacare being the boon to the economy many including the White House and Obamacare cheerleaders were claiming two months ago, that now has turned out to be untrue as well.
You can read the story here.

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