Friday, 22 November 2013

ObamaCare and the President's Broken Promises

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As the disastrous blunders continue to pile up in the wake of the launch of ObamaCare, Americans are learning that there is far more to be angry about than simply a costly and inefficient website. It is becoming clear as the healthcare measure takes effect that many of the president's promises made during the campaign for the law are being broken.

During President Obama’s many speeches advocating his healthcare proposal, he constantly assured the American people that those who were happy with their health insurance plans would be permitted to keep them. He also promised that they would be allowed to keep their physicians if they wished.

“No matter how we reform health care,” Obama declared in 2009, “we will keep this promise: if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.”

An increasing number of Americans are chagrined to learn, however, that it is not as simple as that.

Time.com reported, “In order to participate in health-insurance exchanges, insurers needed to find a way to tamp down the high costs of premiums. As a result, many will narrow their networks, shrinking the range of doctors that are available to patients under their plan, experts say.”

In fact, experts indicate that this is a consequence that the president and those who wrote the law should have been able to foresee.

“Many people are going to find out that the second part of the promise — that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor — just wasn’t true,” asserted Gail Wilensky, who directed the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs under President George H.W. Bush. 

According to Wilensky, Obama’s health care advisers, supposedly experts in the field, should have known that some people would need to change doctors. “This is not magic stuff,” she noted.

Likewise, Factcheck.org labelled the president’s promise “misleading,” indicating that while the law does not specify that people would need to pick a new doctor, there is an implicit understanding that a switch may be inevitable for some. “The President simply can’t make this promise to anyone,” the site said.

Time.com observed that shortly after the healthcare law was passed, the Obama administration stopped promising that Americans would be able to keep their physicians.

“If you are looking for, if you want coverage from your doctor, a doctor that you’ve seen in the past, and want that, you can look and see if there’s a plan which that doctor participates in,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. [Emphasis added.]

Wilensky contended that the broken promise about keeping one's doctor is just one of many. “People better understand that there’s a second shoe to drop,” she said. "[Obama's] going to have to deal with that, because he has more bad stuff ahead of him.”

Both NBC News and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Obama's advisers were well aware that the president’s pledges were false, and that in fact many Americans would lose their plans or be forced to change their doctors.

NBC wrote,

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. … That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans.

Townshall reported that tens of millions of Americans will be impacted by these broken promises, with as many as 69 percent of employer-based insurance plans losing that protection. An additional 11 million people who bought their own insurance could also lose their plans, totalling as many as 52 million Americans losing their current health coverage.

Forbes provided some explanation for why Obama and his cohorts felt compelled to make promises about keeping one’s health plans and doctors:

Cast your mind back to the ignominious collapse of Hillarycare in 1994. Hillarycare came out of the box in September 1993 to high public support according to the early polls. This was not a surprise. Opinion polls for decades have shown a large majority of Americans support the general idea of universal health coverage. But Hillarycare came apart as the bureaucratic details came out, the most important one being that you couldn’t be sure you’d be able to keep your doctors or select specialists of your choice. The Clintons refused to consider a compromise, but even with large Democratic Senate and House majorities the bill was so dead it was never brought up for a vote.

Learning from this, President Obama misled the American people in his portrayal of the healthcare measure, marketing it as one that simply expands health coverage to the uninsured, while simultaneously allowing the insured to remain unscathed.

Of course, critics of the law spotted the holes in that story. Forbes observed, “The redistributive arithmetic of Obamacare’s architecture could never add up.”

Many elderly patients are now learning that their current doctors will no longer be covered by their insurance companies, and are being forced to find new doctors.

The New York Post reported, “New York State Medical Society President Sam Unterricht is demanding a congressional probe after learning that one health carrier alone, UnitedHealthcare, is terminating contracts with up to 2,100 doctors serving 8,000 Medicare Advantage patients in the New York metro region.”

And a large number of Americans are also beginning to lose their physicians — who by and large are adamantly opposed to the healthcare law — because many in the medical community are either seeking early retirement or moving to a cash-only plan with their patients.

Just 23 percent of 409 doctors surveyed indicated they will be taking patients who have signed up through ObamaCare health exchanges.

In fact, some analysts have asserted that the failures associated with Healthcare.gov are a result of the government’s unwillingness to allow users to see the true costs of ObamaCare, thereby uncovering even more broken promises.

“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” reported Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.”

And why was that provision delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies,”explained the Journal.

According to Forbes, the frustrations associated with shortcomings of the healthcare.gov website are nothing compared to the anger the American people will experience as the president’s broken promises become ever more apparent. The magazine added, "The website is a sideshow. The real action is the number of people and businesses who are losing their health plans or having to pay a lot more. Fixing the website will only delay the inevitable."

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