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In Our View: Credibility Gap Grows

Obama or members of his administration knew people would lose their insurance

The Columbian
Published: October 29, 2013, 5:00pm

The latest hit to President Obama’s credibility is difficult to write off as a slip of the tongue or a matter of semantics. No, it’s pretty clear the president told the American people on several occasions that they would be able to keep their health insurance if they liked it, even after the Affordable Care Act became law.

Like in 2009, when Obama said, “If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan.” Like in 2012, when he said, “If (you) already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.” Like the countless times in between, both before and after Obamacare became law, when the president insisted that Americans would not be forced out of their current health insurance.

But a report from NBC News suggests that the president — or at least people in his administration — were well aware that millions of people who purchase individual insurance would, indeed, lose that insurance. NBC cited experts who say roughly half of the 14 million consumers who are individually insured will be receiving cancellation notices because their health care policies don’t conform to the regulations of the ACA.

The original law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010, would be grandfathered in under the regulations. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision.

“None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration,” wrote NBC reporters Lisa Myers and Hannah Rappleye. “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.”

And it probably shouldn’t come as a shock to the American people. Apparently, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House when the law was passed, wasn’t kidding when she infamously said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

In response to the latest revelations, White House spokesperson Jessica Santillo said, “One of the main goals of the law is to ensure that people have insurance they can rely on, that doesn’t discriminate or charge more based on pre-existing conditions. The consumers who are getting notices are in plans that do not provide all these protections.” In other words, the government knows what the public needs better than the public knows — a declaration of hubris as offensive as it is arrogant.

From the start, Obama and the Democrats in Congress who passed the Affordable Care Act have tried to sell it to the people with a handful of talking points: It would provide protection for those with pre-existing conditions; it would provide insurance for millions who aren’t covered; and it would allow consumers to keep their doctor and their insurance if they wish.

The assertion that Obama knew one of those isn’t true for some people calls into question the legitimacy of the other claims and calls into question his control over his administration. Either Obama knew that millions would be forced out of their insurance and he lied to the public while running for re-election, or he was not fully informed by the people around him.

Coming on the heels of revelations that the National Security Administration has been listening in on the private conversations of foreign leaders — another question of what Obama knew and when he knew it — the information is damning. And it serves to expand his growing credibility gap.