In recent weeks Hillary Clinton has gone on the offensive against Bernie Sanders' health care plan which is to eventually have a single payer system that would provide coverage to all Americans.
Clinton has attacked that plan in support of the ACA or Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, and has repeatedly defended it, extolled it, said she wants to keep it and build on it, and has attacked Sanders for wanting to replace it. She even sent Chelsea out to defend it using a torrent of blatant falsehoods about Sanders plan and what it would mean to Americans to lose it, all of which was untrue. What Sanders single payer plan would do is put the ACA in a dumpster where it has always belonged and for reasons which will be made clear.
Whether Clinton actually believes what she is saying or whether her support for Obamacare is part of the obvious backroom deal she made with Obama to publicly support his policies in return for Obama and the Obama controlled DNC going into the tank for her as many including David Gergen believes is the case, politics aside, Obamacare is and always has been nothing less than the most egregious, underhanded deceitful dishonest cave in and sell out of a government policy -- the public option -- to corporate interests and a special interest group -- the health insurance industry-- in American history. That is Obamacare and that is what Clinton is defending and supporting.
In June 2009 according to polls 72% of Americans supported and wanted a public option. Astoundingly 66% said they'd be willing to pay higher taxes to get it. (something the Sanders campaign can use the next time the Clinton campaign tries to trash his single payer plan by pointing out it would raise taxes on the middle class).
Obama reneged on his own campaign promises of a public option and that of the Democratic party. These were promises he made in every town hall meeting he had on healthcare reform in June, July and August of 2009 where he defended and promoted the benefits of the public option. Then in late August of 2009 Obama caved in to pressure from the health insurance lobby who wanted Obama to drop the government run public option because it would hurt their business. Obama caved in showing a lot more concern for the health of the insurance business than for the health of the American people. Especially the uninsured.
Since then Obama has told more lies about Obamacare and did more to cover up its failures than Nixon did about Watergate and did so from the very beginning.
In his first interviews after the passing of the ACA without the public option, Obama said he got "95% of everything I wanted". When it was pointed out to him that there is no public option, Obama lied and said " I never campaigned for the public option".
It was as brazen a lie as anything Nixon ever told. He had campaigned for it in 2007-2008, it was in his campaign literature, there are a variety of Youtubes of his speeches supporting the public option and it was at the heart of every speech he made in every town hall meeting he ever had on healthcare reform in June, July and August of 2009.
And he and the White House and Democratic party fundraising arms have been lying about it ever since, from the number of people who actually signed up for insurance to its very purpose. In his latest State of the Union message Obama tried to claim that the purpose of the ACA or Obamacare was to "close the gap" between employer based coverage and giving people the opportunity to purchase health insurance on their own when they lost their jobs. Really? Since when? That was Obama continuing to lie after the fact about Obamacare to try and make the policy fit the reality of so few people actually signing up.
The two main purposes of healthcare reform was to get healthcare coverage for the 35-40 million Americans who didn't have it because they couldn't afford it, and to bring down the obscene cost of healthcare for those who did.This was not only based on the idea that healthcare should be a right not a privilege but every economist agreed that it was the uninsured who were partially responsible for the rising cost of healthcare. Obamacare accomplished neither goal. The public option would have accomplished both. And been a boon to the economy since people switching from private insurance to the public option would have seen money spent on insurance premiums going back into their pockets.
Obamacare has been a complete failure on both fronts and the people who the Unaffordable Care Act was supposed to help the most know it and most of them are Democratic voters. Which is why Hillary Clinton's continued vocal support of Obamacare while attacking Sanders and his plan to replace Obamacare with a single payer system could by itself give the nomination to Sanders through primary victories supported by voters still angry over the sell out of Obamacare and what could have been.
To show how dishonest Obama has been and how he knows Obamacare is vastly inferior to the public option which would have passed the congress, and how important it was to him that people forget that he sold out the public option, when policies started being canceled in 2014 and Obama began taking heat from Republicans over what they called a broken promise over his claim that " if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance", Obama was content to stay silent instead of pointing out the truth -- that he never made that promise about Obamacare. He made that statement about the public option.
Obama made that pledge in defending the public option against Republican attacks that the public option was " a government take over of healthcare". Obama countered by pointing out it was an option not a requirement, that no one would be forced to sign up for the public option and that " if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor".
He preferred to remain silent rather than remind people that a) he did campaign for the public option and then lied when he said he didn't, and b) didn't want to remind people of how much better the public option would have been than Obamacare. And so Obama decided he'd rather take the political heat and hit on his trustworthiness in the polls and at the same time was willing to throw Democratic senators up for reelection and who voted for it now taking heat from Republicans, under the bus. Some senators scrambled to find ways to fix it but all Obama had to do was tell the truth. And take responsibility for his decisions. He wouldn't.
Democrats were wiped out in the senate in 2014 almost as badly as they were in 2010, as I predicted they would be if they didn't repudiate the failures of Obamacare and promise to fix it by trying to bring back the public option. Obama made it worse by letting Democratic senators take the heat.
Hillary Clinton is either being dishonest, incredibly uninformed, or is in collusion with Obama when she says as she did at the last debate that the votes weren't there for the public option and that "even president Obama couldn't get it through". Her point was that Sanders could never get his plan through congress because "even president Obama couldnt do it". Completely false.
Healthcare reform with the public option had already passed the Democratically controlled House by a wide margin. Nancy Pelosi had called the public option "the centerpiece of healthcare reform". It was sent to the senate where the bill would be passed using reconciliation meaning it only needed 51 votes to pass. But Obama had already made his backroom deal with the health insurance companies to drop the public option as chronicled by both the New York Times and the PBS Frontline documentary " Obama's Deal".
In an effort to give Obama a backbone 55 Democratic senators publicly stated days before the vote that they would vote for a healthcare reform bill that had the public option. Among them was Sanders. Tom Harkin was another. But Obama had Harry Reid take it out. That is why there is no public option not, as Clinton falsely stated that the votes weren't there to pass it. And when Sanders was asked the day after the vote what he thought of the healthcare bill that was passed without the public option his answer was, " It's better than nothing"
At the time, Democrats had the biggest congressional majority of any party in 60 years and could have passed anything Obama wanted ( including gun control legislation and reauthorizing the ban on assault weapons. Obama as was his political history, did nothing. It took the mass killings at Sandy Hook, the Colorado theater and Charleston to make him want to do something and by then it was too late as Democrats had lost their majority largely because of Obama's sell out on healthcare).
The reality of Obamacare is that of the 35-40 million uninsured before Obamacare, less than 3% bought policies through the ACA. Conversely 97% of the uninsured remained uninsured. And for good reason. The lowest end policies designed for those who couldnt previously afford health insurance and which Obama allowed to be put together by the insurance companies, are literally junk -- the equivalent of healthcare insurance junk bonds, charging high premiums, high deductibles and high co pays with little in return, policies that aren't accepted by most doctors and clinics. There have been reports in both the NY Times and AP of people who did buy these policies having to drive more than 100 miles one way to find a doctor or clinic that would take the insurance. New Hampshire where Sanders is beating Clinton in the polls 61-30 is one of those places.
And if you make $40,000 a year or more you don't qualify for subsidies. Only the most desperate bought these junk policies and its significant to note that while less than 3% of the uninsured purchased polices in 2013,only 1% did in 2014, a drop of 2/3. Once people saw what they weren't getting for their money, they said no thanks. As for the drop in uninsured since 2008 which is miniscule, much of it can be attributed to people going back to work and getting coverage there, not through Obamacare.
The Inspector General issued a report a few months ago that the state exchanges are "awash in red ink" because the purchase of polices have been so anemic and that 22 of the 23 state exchanges are about to close.
Which Is more proof of how false Obama's and Clinton's claim of Obamacare success really is and that 18 million previously uninsured bought policies. The real number is nowhere near that, probably under 2 million.
A year ago in his 2015 State of the Union Obama claimed 16 million who previously didnt have healthcare coverage bought polices. That too was false and Obama knows it.
In 2013 Obama claimed 7 million signed up. That number was a fabrication. Of the 7 million that enrolled,according to the insurance companies 20% never sent in their first months premium invalidating their policy bringing the number down to 5.6 million. About 10% turned out to be multiple enrollments because people had trouble with web site glitches and thinking they didnt go through, filed 2 and sometimes 3 applications. That brought the number down to about 5 million. And the IRS said that at about 5% lied on their application about their income to qualify for subsidies they weren't entitled to and didn't match the income declared on their IRS return reducing the real number to about 4.7 million. Only about 1 million of those were the previously uninsured, the rest were people who previously had insurance looking for a better deal.
But even using the White House's inflated number of 7 million in 2013, Obama claimed 16 million in 2014 by adding the 9 million the HHS secretary hoped they would get in 2014 to the 7 million claimed the previous year. Except policies are renewed every year. So the hoped for 9 million policies weren't an addition to the 7 million the previous year, it would have included the 7 million assuming they all renewed their policies which they didn't, and then added another hoped for two million to get to 9 million. Obama adds the two years together and claims 16 million which is counting most of the same people twice but gives him a built in excuse if anyone in the news media were ever smart enough to notice or had the integrity to call him on it. And they weren't. And they didn't.
The only successful aspect of Obamacare has been expanded Medicaid but that was left up to states to implement. In state's like Louisiana where Jindal rejected it 270,000 who would have been eligible didnt get it. And under a public option it wouldn't have been necessary.
Obamacare has not only done nothing for the people it was supposed to help the most, it's actually going to hurt them badly this year just in time for the November election and this years spring primaries. Clinton's so called southern firewall has a great chance of crumbling over Obamacare. And deservedly so.
Those who didn't purchase the junk policies forced by Obamacare are going to be hit with a $700 penalty on their tax returns by the IRS. Its safe to say most of those 30 million or so still uninsured are Democratic voters. That $700 is going to hurt and it's going to be deducted from their tax refund so if they had any thoughts of just never sending it in or " screw them let them come after me for the money" they are in for a surprise. Their refund is going to be $700 less. And this is what Clinton has been supporting and will be.
I wrote two articles one in February of 2010 and again in August of 2010 when it became clear that Obama was going to sell out the public option that if congressional Democrats didn't take healthcare reform away from Obama and pass the public option anyway, they would get wiped out of the congress in the 2010 elections. It was a pretty bold prediction given that Democrats had won the biggest congressional majority in 60 years two years before. But a prediction I made with certainty.
Democrats, badly led by Pelosi and Reid, didn't take the agenda away from Obama, didnt pass the public option and were wiped out of congress in the 2010 elections suffering the biggest defeat of any political party in 80 years giving Republicans a majority they still hold. The huge defeat was not at the hands of the people who voted against Democrats in 2008 but by those who voted for them and felt betrayed by losing the public option and stayed home. Something most Democrats and their strategists still bury their heads in the sand over. Except for Sanders.
I predicted the same level of defeat would happen in 2014 in the senate if Democrats didn't repudiate Obamacare after two years of failure and promise to bring back the public option. They didn't,instead listening to both Pelosi and Donna Brazile who said that they should run towards and not away from Obamacare. Pelosi, sounding more like Marie Antoinette than a Democrat kept repeating that the Affordable Care Act meant, " Affordable, affordable affordable". Democrats were wiped out of the senate in 2014.
Obamacare is a dishonest failure. An Obama sell out to the insurance companies. The state exchanges are going to close. About 97% of the uninsured remain uninsured. Those hoping to get a better deal on the exchanges are finding that mostly nothing has changed. And the cost of healthcare and insurance keeps going up.
Clinton's firm support of Obamacare and trying to attack Sanders for wanting to dismantle it and replace it with a single payer system, the first step of which could be to bring back the public option, could do to her candidacy what it did to the Democratic congress in 2010 and 2014 and its too late for her to turn back. She has already steadfastly embraced it and defended it and attacked Sanders for wanting to replace it.
Ironically with the Iowa caucuses coming up, it was in Iowa in 2010 that Obama told one of his bigger lies about Obamacare, a lie that makes Clinton's attacks on Sanders even more fruitless and dishonest. After the ACA passed in 2010 Obama went to Iowa to claim victory and that he had fullfilled the "promise" he said he made in Iowa 2 years earlier at the caucuses that if he were elected president he would pass "health insurance reform" in his first term. It was one more Obama lie. What Obama actually promised in Iowa during the caucuses in 2008 was that if he was elected president he would pass universal health care in his first term. Exactly what Clinton is attacking Sanders for now. There was no Obama promise of "health insurance reform" . Naturally the news media didn't catch that either. Or did but we're too afraid to point it out.
Clinton's belief that the African American vote will go her way in the southern states ignores the fact that the failure of Obamacare on every level affects African Americans the same way it affects everyone else. And when voters, African American or otherwise who have no insurance - 30 million of them - start getting hit with the $700 penalty on their 2016 returns for not buying the junk policies even the White House admitted to the New York Times was substandard, Bernie Sanders and his desire to replace Obamacare is going to be just what the doctor ordered. And just what Clinton and Obama didn't .