No unbreaking this promise
If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it. ... No, you can’t. ... Yes, you can — but only for a year.
President Barack Obama sounded quite bewildered himself Thursday — again.
Heeding pleas from fellow Democrats, the president announced that his administration will allow health insurers to extend individual coverage for another year even if those plans don’t meet the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
That offers no guarantee that those plans will be extended. And when the president pushed the landmark health care reform legislation by repeatedly vowing that Americans could keep their insurance plans if they wished, he did not add “for just a year” past the law’s Jan. 1, 2014, deadline.
So what will be the president’s next gambit to lower the uproar over the Obama-care rollout debacle, including that mess of a HealthCare.gov website?
Early last week, he tried this revisionist history on his broken promise: “What we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”
But “if it hasn’t changed” was never part of the deal President Obama pitched while pushing the unsustainable law through Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote.
Also last week, the president dismissed the insurance coverage many Americans wanted to keep as “substandard.”
Last Friday, President Obama finally apologized for “people finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me.”
Then on Thursday, under growing pressure from congressional Democrats seeking re-election next year, the president delivered that one-year reprieve.
Yet the executive edict he described won’t — and can’t — restore many of the lost insurance plans. The old “genie is out of the bottle” dilemma is an apt analogy.
President Obama conceded that “traditionally state insurance commissioners make decisions about what plans can be or cannot be sold, how they interact with insurers.”
But he added: “What we’re essentially saying is the Affordable Care Act is not going to be the factor in what happens with folks in the individual market.”
That contention is dubious at best. The massive law regulating health care from on high inevitably affects the insurance market.
Yes, that one-year extension might postpone Obamacare’s consequences for the relatively few people lucky enough to get their coverage back.
It also could delay the full political fallout of the law until after the 2014 congressional elections.
Still, some federal lawmakers from both parties said Thursday that they will seek legislative remedies for Obamacare’s proliferating ailments.
The president, in a self-serving bid to shift some of the broken-promise political pain to fellow Democrats, made this point Thursday:
“By the way, I think it’s very important for me to note that, you know, there are a whole bunch of folks up in Congress and others who made this statement, and they were entirely sincere about it.”
Then again, 34 House Democrats did defy party leaders, including the president, by voting against the Affordable Care Act.
And on Thursday, even as President Obama unveiled his latest in a long line of delays and exemptions from the law, he persisted in condemning the insurance industry: “It is important to understand, though, that the old individual market was not working well. And it’s important that we don’t pretend that somehow that’s a place worth going back to.”
That brings us back to this unaffordable law’s fundamental flaw: It presumes that the federal government is a better judge of your insurance needs than you are — and requires you to pay the price for that abrogation of what has long been your personal choice.
Meanwhile, President Obama is paying a high — and deserved — price of his own in lost credibility.
And as Obamacare continues to unravel, the president should know better than to make any more promises he can’t keep.