The President’s ‘fix’ for Obamacare

Terry Garlock's picture

The White House’s urgent retreat came at the same time the French took a bold stand in Geneva, thereby rescuing the U.S. Secretary of State from himself as he tried to give away the store to the Iranians. I haven’t seen such role reversal since masculinity became passe.

To understand the Obamacare train wreck and retreat, you need to ask yourself how much political intrigue you like mixed in with your healthcare?

If you are a die-hard Obama supporter, you might resist such disloyal thoughts. Besides, it’s so easy to believe Republicans are evil for trying their dead-level best to unwind Obamacare. You may even have wrapped yourself in the warm fuzzies of believing the latest crisis over health insurance policy cancellations has been solved by the President’s announced accommodation at his press conference last Thursday.

But you would be wrong. That “solution” was just offering more Kool-Aid to true believers like you. I will explain if you can stand it.

As you may be aware, over 5 million citizens have had their healthcare insurance policies cancelled so far. These are the policies those citizens carefully selected and paid for, the policies the President said they could keep, along with their chosen doctor. Five million is just a good start, with a tidal wave of cancellations on the way.

The President counted on you true believers when he fraudulently sold Obamacare with, “If you like your insurance policy, you can keep your policy. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

But anyone paying close attention with a nominal dose of skepticism would have known those things have never been even remotely true. Obamacare depends, at its core, on cancellation of individual policies so people are compelled to buy new policies on the exchanges, where the higher premiums are desperately needed to subsidize other buyers.

Younger and healthier buyers are desperately needed since the premiums they pay, above and beyond the real cost of their policy, will help pay for the policies of the higher-risk older and sicker buyers, and to subsidize less wealthy buyers.

Welcome to paradise.

Caught in a pants-on-fire lie that too many voters actually care about because it affects them personally, the President then tried to spin his way out with “What we said was, you can keep your plan IF ...,” but that boyish attempt to dodge blame didn’t work. The media had finally awakened and recognized his lie about his lie.

I suppose the President could claim incompetence as a defense, especially since before this job he never ran anything as large as a hot dog stand, but the Obamacare plan anticipated mass cancellations from the get-go.

There is a very inconvenient Affordable Care Act report from 3.5 years ago dated July 19, 2010, just a few months after the President signed it into law, that anticipated between 40 percent and 67 percent of individual policies would be cancelled by losing their grandfathered status, thereby forcing those people onto the exchanges. That IRS report circulated to Health and Human Services, Treasury, Labor and all the policy wonks at the White House. There goes plausible deniability.

Another noted Democrat, Mario Cuomo, famously observed, “We campaign in poetry, but we govern in prose,” meaning after the campaign it is time to drop the hyperbole and manage in the real world in a way that earns voter trust.

The people surrounding Obama apparently don’t understand that wisdom, or why the wise executive under-promises and over-delivers; they are stuck in perpetual unprincipled campaign mode, instinctively spinning lies when caught lying, whether it is about Fast and Furious, Benghazi or Obamacare.

Care to hear about more Obamacare lies? Now that cancellations are a hot issue, spokesmen treat the number of cancellations as trivial collateral damage and claim Obamacare was all about improving the healthcare policy features for the 90 percent of Americans covered by their employer plans, not the 10 percent in the individual market receiving cancellations.

Well, it was never about that at all, but never mind.

Another campaign of lies spread throughout the Democratic Party and swallowed by the media includes the oft-repeated adjectives “substandard” or “junk” pinned to cancelled policies, claiming the policies you now own, the policies you might like a great deal, are not good for you while the new healthcare policies you are forced to buy are improved.

This is a classic example of why I fear most those enthusiastic about saving me.

The “substandard” argument is related to the spin that our healthcare system is broken and we must do something about it, thus Obamacare.

Well, who broke the healthcare system?

The truth is the cost of healthcare insurance policies have escalated out of control largely because of government.

Well-meaning state legislatures have piled on coverage requirements so in recent decades policies must cover things like mammography, minimum hospital stays for maternity or mastectomy, in vitro fertilization, mental issues, treatment for alcoholism and other addictions and even hair prosthesis.

It seems to be our nature to improve something until it collapses of its own weight, and that is what we are doing to healthcare insurance, which should be to cover the small chance of catastrophic medical expenses.

For every type of health service, someone will grind the ax and find bleeding hearts in their state legislature to push a bill adding a new mandate to healthcare policies in that state.

Insurance companies went along with the mandates because they can’t control pinheads in legislatures, and they just raised their rates to cover the cost.

Doctors went along because they focus on practicing medicine and get paid by insurance anyway.

Patients accepted the slightly higher cost of their portion of employer-provided policies, and the policies paid for their care.

Studies say state-mandated benefits resulted in premium increases ranging from 20-50 percent. In the 1960s there were few state mandates for healthcare insurance policies; now there are over 2,000, according to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance.

On the low end, Idaho has just 13, on the top end, Rhode Island has 70. Every one of those mandates comes with procedures that carry a cost. All 50 states mandate mammography coverage and 15 mandate in vitro fertilization coverage. A few states mandate coverage for an athletic trainer, and a few mandate coverage for pastoral counseling.

Along the way, insurance carriers started placing limits on coverage, their method of self-preservation to contain the insanity.

No wonder healthcare insurance premiums have been escalating.

Comes now Obamacare, aka The Affordable Care Act, promising Shangri-La at lower prices with a fistful of federal mandates for every healthcare policy.

You still believe, don’t you? If I haven’t lost you yet, please grit your teeth and take a realistic look at the President’s announced solution to policy cancellations.

Maybe you bought the story that President Obama was forced by public sentiment to act at his Thursday press conference, when he announced forbearance of part of the law so that you could, indeed, keep your existing plan for one more year.

But the real reason for that “accommodation” was to pre-empt Michigan’s Republican Fred Upton who sponsored a House of Representatives “Keep Your Plan” bill the next day, on Friday, allowing people to not only keep their existing plan, but also allowing further sale of those pre-Obamacare plans.

The bill passed with 39 Democratic defections, but the President’s action the day before was meant to prevent much deeper political losses.

There is more political calculus in the President’s waiver of pieces of the law. If people are allowed to keep their policies for another year, the escalating screams of outrage over cancellations will be postponed until after the 2014 mid-term elections next November.

Why do you think Obama waved his royal finger to postpone for a year the part of the law requiring employer mandates?

Here’s why – all the caterwauling from business about unacceptable cost increases, canceling employee coverage and turning millions of full-time employees into part-timers to avoid being subject to the law, will now be pushed past the 2014 mid-term elections.

You are being played like a fiddle.

There are other ugly consequences of Obamacare, like massive shifts of people into Medicaid, those with jobs and income up to four times the poverty level, creating trillions of dollars in new entitlements in a program that is already broke.

We haven’t even talked about the layers of new taxes coming next year, or the many boards who will decide how to allocate scarce resources, like MRIs or brain surgery, but don’t get me started because there is more to examine behind the President’s rosy claims about his “solution.”

There are two monumental obstacles to making the President’s solution a practical reality.

First, the healthcare insurance industry has been working for over three years preparing their insurance products for the requirements of Obamacare. Now, after all that change required to move their train in the direction Obama wanted, now he is telling them to turn on a dime, ignore parts of the law they have built into their infrastructure, and re-issue cancelled policies despite all the financial planning and calculations imbedded in their new healthcare products.

Any first-year business school student would see the folly in a heartbeat, even if the President had the authority to give direction to the insurance industry, which he does not.

While insurance industry officials and state insurance commissioners scramble to decide how to deal with this administrative and actuarial nightmare, and how it will increase premium costs, I would offer the second colossal reason the President’s imperial decree should not be taken seriously.

Whatever you think of Rep. Fred Upton’s bill that passed on Friday, surely headed for an Obama veto if it ever gets past the Senate, at least he had the virtue of acting legally.

Not so the President, whose duty is to enforce the law, not to tinker with it whenever he doesn’t like this or that part of a law.

Just as he has previously exceeded his authority, like selectively not enforcing part of established immigration law and then calling that system broken, he is outside his authority when he declares what pieces of Obamacare he will change by his personal whim. By our Constitution, laws are made and modified in Congress.

Finally, there is a practical reason Obama should not be allowed to tinker with any aspect of this law. The arrogance of the White House knowing best what is good for you and me is compounded by the sweeping deception throughout Obamacare, the lying, political maneuvers and marketplace stupidity.

You could collect from this President and those surrounding him all their knowledge about how to deal effectively with private enterprise, cram it into a peanut shell, and it would rattle like a BB in a boxcar.

[Terry Garlock of Peachtree City occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen.]

borntorun
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One Correction Terry

"....he is outside his authority when he declares what pieces of Obamacare he will change by his personal whim. By our Constitution, laws are made and modified in Congress."

This is technically incorrect. The way the law was written it gave the Secretary of HHS autonomy in administering the law as written...yes including changes. Not necessary to go back to Congress to change the provisions of the ACA.

This is not that uncommon. Yes some laws do require Congressional action but to have Congress go back and change or amend every law would be impossible. That's why in most cases when both the House and Senate agree on the language, the authority to administer and amend the regulations is granted to the appropriate agency.

What they can do is vote to repeal the ACA.

Having said that I agree its a mess. And the "fix" may be worse than the problem.

Davids mom
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It's interesting to watch

the road some feel they must take to denigrate race and sex. You were wrong in 2008 and 2012. But hey, this is watching the last gasp of those who find it difficult to look beyond skin color and gender. The issue is affordable health care. The idea was seriously discussed in the Heritage Center (conservative think tank); Hiliarycare and Romneycare. The president has an extremely low rating at this time regarding this LAW. The Republicans rating with the majority of the country has slipped considerably. Just offering another point of view. Please continue your non-racist/non-sexist discussion. Fascinating! A harsh reality-over 4000 US citizens lost their lives due to a 'lie' told by the Republican Administration under Bush. A 'lie' or misinformation/poor investigation? Hmmmmm. Iraq?

G35 Dude
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DM-Lets do watch

Once again you play the race card. Mr Garlock said nothing racist or sexist. He simply stated facts. And your only defense is "Well Bush was wrong too." Bush is no longer President. Obama is a failed President! As you like to say 2014 will be interesting!

Davids mom
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A view of reality - watch

The ‘race card’? Mr. Garlock expressed his opinion on the issues from his point of view – his interpretation of the ‘facts’. I

I responded:

Quote:

The issue is affordable health care. The idea was seriously discussed in the Heritage Center (conservative think tank); Hiliarycare and Romneycare. The president has an extremely low rating at this time regarding this LAW. The Republicans rating with the majority of the country has slipped considerably. Just offering another point of view. Please continue your non-racist/non-sexist discussion.

Another participant expressed his opinion – which included race and sex.

Quote:

Bussing Valerie the black, back to the hood
That's not racist by the way, it is the same as calling her Val/Vlad the Impaler. Or, as the Hoosier suggests, ValBus.She sure is a factor in the half-white guy's administration, but I think she is wearing out her welcome. This "Blame everything on Whitey and the rich Republicans" crap is really getting old. There are more influential blacks that think like Bill Cosby than those that think like Al Sharpton. Before you respond DM, I said influential blacks.

What in the sam hill do you know about how ‘influential blacks’ feel on racial issues? It has been stated in this forum and in many other places that there are conservative Americans of all hues and both genders. The Republicans have effectively closed the door on women, minorities, youth, etc. with their insistence on either returning to the ‘good ole days’ of separate and unequal or remaining silent on social issues that are important to female, young, minority Americans.. (The obstructionist stance on immigration reform has cinched a Democratic vote from Hispanics, Asians, Africans and Europeans with immigrants in their families.)

It’s the national election that will show how the country feels about the obstructionism/silence of the Republican Party. Republicans are safe and secure in Red States – and MOST local leaders govern justly. When the Republican Party finishes crucifying Gov. Christy – a Democrat will be elected to the White House in 2016.

Spyglass
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It is a one hit juke box

That our resident troll plays on.

Davids mom
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Spyglass

Please add your informed opinion.

Voter
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Who can you trust or believe anymore?

Mr. Garlock has it right. We all should know what the President and democrat members of congress said to get the bill passed. Why they kept saying it after the law passed is amazing. Was it a lie or a fraud? Did they think you just don't pay attention.

The grandfather clause is a joke. Is that a lie or fraud?

Five million people are considered insignificant. They are coming for group insurance next and the number will swell to Eighty million or more.

Why did the insurance companies dump long time customers without empathy or an apology for this disaster?

Affordable has become anything but. Policy rates are doubling and deductibles are rising to a minimum of $3500 per year to over $11,000. Do the customers understand what deductible means? The insurance companies have got to like that.

Did our State Insurance Commissioner warn us of the coming disaster? There has been three years to get this message to consumers in Georgia.

Congress is receiving special treatment from insurance companies. Does congress get special rates as well? Just asking.

The point of the law was to get insurance for 15% of uninsured Americans. The government decided the best way to do this was to blow up the 85% of the population that has insurance. Throw the baby out with the bath water.

Did the Supreme Court protect the citizen or play politics? The government mandating that you buy something, from a limited number of companies sure seems un-American. So my question is, who can you trust or who can you believe.

Cyclist
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According to Rep. Jared Polis D..

Colorado, the solution for Obamacare is to fast-track illegal aliens to legal status so that they can pay their own way. He stated “American citizens are essentially being forced to pay for the health care costs of people who are here illegally every day, until we pass comprehensive immigration reform,”

Well Congressman Polis, that is exactly why the US and other sovereign nations have immigration laws and deport those that are illegally in the country.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/nov/15/legalizing-illegal-immig...

Davids mom
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Giving non-citizens 'rights'

Didn't work years ago - and it won't work now. Which rights will be 'given' to non-citizens? Why are the Republicans refusing to tackle immigration reform?

Robert W. Morgan
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2 more points and Valerie Jarrett will be out as President

Obama just hit 37% on his way lower and his only option is to throw somebody under the bus to deflect blame and I'm betting it is Valerie when he hits 35%. This woman actually has a staff, Secret Service protection and is the main reason everything is so political in the White House and seemingly running a campaign instead of running the country. Remember the "We'll be ready to rule" line? That's pure Valerie. Not sure who or what is next when he slips into the 20's, but I think we will find out.

When Nixon was confronted by Republican House and Senate leaders he finally saw the obvious and quit, but it was a long rocky road of denial and finger-pointing before that. Obama is starting to have some Dems jump ship already and there is bound to be more, but maybe when Reed and Pelosi come around he'll change direction and stop campaigning after 6 long years and begin governing or better yet - just get out of the way and let someone else handle health care insurance - hopefully the states or maybe thru Medicade. Then people who need Medicade can move to a state that has the best giveaway programs - Maine, Massachusetts, etc. That helps with my dream of segregation by work ethic. Want handouts? Go to Massachusetts. Want a job? Go to North Dakota. Pretty simple really. Only losers are the criminals who will be stuck robbing poor people because they will live too far from the working people with money. Oh well, they'll just have to try harder.

Hoosier Fan
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RWM - RE: Valerie Jarrett

To repeat what I have heard elsewhere:

Obama won't throw Valerie Jarrett under the bus.

Valerie Jarrett IS the bus in this administration.

Robert W. Morgan
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Valerie loses, Vlad the Republican wins.

Vlad the Impaler is a Republican warrior who will take it all in in the fall (next fall).

This Valerie s**t sure is a factor in the half-white guy's administration, but I think she is wearing out her welcome. This "Blame everything on Whitey and the rich Republicans" crap is really getting old. There are more influential blacks that think like Bill Cosby than those that think like Al Sharpton. Before you respond DM, I said influential blacks.

And some of those influential blacks are going to bail out on ValerieCare - actually, it is HillaryCare recycled, but why strain the libs brains with that kind of talk. Just kill it and don't let it come back.

2014 gonna be an fun election. Get the Senate back and veto-proof in the House. You dopes in the Senate just made it easier today to kill Obamacare. Do you people not think at all? Oh whatever, just go along with your little power trip and see you next year.

Davids mom
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Too late RWM

I already posted your quote before you changed it. However progress has been made - it was racist - and unnecessary to your point. Most sensible citizens are saying 'don't kill it (AHA) - JUST improve it!! Non-political/true servants of the people could sit down and discuss strategies to do this instead of obstructing it. What does the Republican Party have to offer? Silence and obstructionist strategies that are failing. Sad. However - in the meantime 'pre-conditions- are gone; children are being served; preventative strategies are being implemented.

Quote:

2014 gonna be an fun election. Get the Senate back and veto-proof in the House. You dopes in the Senate just made it easier today to kill Obamacare.

Our students are being out-educated ; our citizens are exhibiting poor health; our infrastructure is in need of repair and too many of our citizens are unemployed/underemployed- and this is the SONG of the Republican Party. May play well in the Red States - but the reception of this 'song' is not going over well in a troubled country.

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