The most obviously false claim that President Obama made during the health-care debate — and there were many — was that, regardless of the new law he sought, you could keep your current health coverage if you were satisfied with it. It was obviously false because existing plans were still going to be made to comply with certain mandates after a grace period, and new mandates always cost something for someone — the health consumer, the employer subsidizing the coverage or, most likely, both.
Some of us were pointing out that this wasn’t true in one iteration of the health bill almost 11 months ago. But since the president kept repeating his claim (albeit with ever-evolving nuance to cover himself), I guess fresh confirmation that it isn’t so qualifies as news. From the Associated Press:
Over and over in the health care debate, President Barack Obama said people who like their current coverage would be able to keep it.
But an early draft of an administration regulation estimates that many employers will be forced to make changes to their health plans under the new law. In just three years, a majority of workers — 51 percent — will be in plans subject to new federal requirements, according to midrange projections in the draft.
Republicans said Obama broke his promise. Employer groups were divided.
The rest of the article covers the debate between those who say the president broke his promise and those who say, Eh, yeah, but don’t worry because you’ll like the new benefits.
The latter argument is a nice spin job, but it misses the point. The president didn’t say, “No one will have worse coverage after I’m done.” He said, directly and repeatedly, that he wasn’t forcing anyone into anything — a claim made to convince Americans that nothing would change for those who were already content.
His administration is now debating whether that promise has passed its expiration date. And keep in mind that its decision now will be subject to change. If the law gives the executive branch latitude to make this decision, that decision can always be reversed or modified.
In the real world, consumers have to balance the worth of new benefits against their cost. When you aren’t given the choice of accepting the new benefits or not, you’re left paying for them whether or not you like or can afford them.
It’s another way this new law makes our system more, not less, broken.