News reports from the left, right, and middle have all shamed the failures of healthcare.gov, the main web portal of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). The site had glitches and outright failures from Day 1, and still isn’t working properly.
But the repeated and continuing failure of the website isn’t the worst thing about the ACA. For President Barack Obama, the worst thing will be the quick erosion of his credibility as millions are losing their previous/current health insurance plans, plans that Obama repeatedly promised “you can keep”.
“Let me be exactly clear about what health care reform means to you. First of all, if you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”
But the story also links to an earlier story, which clarified: “But today the president clarified that promise. It seems he wasn’t saying ‘no one’ will take away any American’s health insurance — he was saying the government wouldn’t.”
Since that date though, Obama kept repeating the mantra of “you can keep your plan”. Later, he began tweaking the message: “…what we said was you could keep it, if it hasn’t changed since the law’s passed.”
Last week, NBC News reported:
“…millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.
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.”
The Weekly Standard notes that “hundreds of thousands” have already received these cancellation letters.
Obama’s administration spokespeople have answered this by saying this is the whole idea of the law is to improve healthcare, and that yes, they knew some would lose plans they liked:
“What the president said and what everybody said all along is that there are going to be changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act to create minimum standards of coverage, minimum services that every insurance plan has to provide. So it’s true that there are existing healthcare plans on the individual market that don’t meet those minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act.”
They also claim that the same people will be able to find affordable plans with better coverage under the new law. Many haven’t, though, as the same NBC story reports. Many people had plans they liked, with premiums that fit them, deductibles that were affordable, and covered the kinds of care they expected to need.
At this point, Obama doesn’t need credibility; he’s not going to get elected again — at least not as President. He’ll get his salary for the rest of his life, as well as Secret Service protection. But if he’s worried about his legacy at all, and how currently living people will always remember him, it might very well be for repeating this promise that he knew wouldn’t be true.
I’ll go ahead and predict his eventual legacy, just for fun. Eventually, he’ll just be listed as “the first black President”, who served from 2009 to 2017. Kids in school — even the ones who learn the names of old presidents — don’t know anything about Grover Cleveland other than his name. Most of us, without turning to Wikipedia, don’t know more than a sentence or two about even the most famous of presidents. The same will eventually be true for Obama.
But while he still lives, and especially while he’s still President, he’s given the right plenty of ammunition.
◊ Of Note:
In November 2012, I predicted that a Republican will win the Presidency in 2016 (last line of this entry).
I’ve never been a fan of Obamacare, because I don’t think it addresses the actual problem; only symptoms.