With the public’s trust in his handling of health care tanking (50%-44% of Americans disapprove), the White House has launched a new phase of its strategy designed to pass Obamacare: all Obama, all the time. As part of that effort, Obama hosted a conference call with leftist bloggers urging them to pressure Congress to pass his health plan as soon as possible. During the call, a blogger from Maine said he kept running into an Investors Business Daily article that claimed Section 102 of the House health legislation would outlaw private insurance. He asked: “Is this true? Will people be able to keep their insurance and will insurers be able to write new policies even though H.R. 3200 is passed?” President Obama replied: “You know, I have to say that I am not familiar with the provision you are talking about.” (quote begins at 17:10) This is a truly disturbing admission by the President, especially considering that later in the call, Obama promises yet again: “If you have health insurance, and you like it, and you have a doctor that you like, then you can keep it. Period.” How can Obama keep making this promise if he is not familiar with the health legislation that is being written in Congress? Details matter. We are familiar with the passage IBD cites, and as we wrote last week, the House bill does not outright outlaw private individual health insurance, but it does effectively regulate it out of existence. The House bill does allow private insurance to be sold, but only “Exchange-participating health benefits plans.” In order to qualify as an “Exchange-participating health benefits plan,” all health insurance plans must conform to a slew of new regulations, including community rating and guaranteed issue. These will all send the cost of private individual health insurance skyrocketing. Furthermore, all these new regulations would not apply just to individual insurance plans, but to all insurance plans. So the House bill will also drive up the cost of your existing employer coverage as well. Until, of course, it becomes so expensive that your company makes the perfectly economical decision to dump you into the government plan. President Obama may not care to study how many people will lose their current health insurance if his plan becomes law, but like most Americans, we do. That is why we partnered with the Lewin Group to study how many Americans would be forced into the government “option” under the House health plan. Here is what we found:
- Approximately 103 million people would be covered under the new public plan and, as a consequence, about 83.4 million people would lose their private insurance. This would represent a 48.4 percent reduction in the number of people with private coverage.
- About 88.1 million workers would see their current private, employer-sponsored health plan go away and would be shifted to the public plan.
- Yearly premiums for the typical American with private coverage could go up by as much as $460 per privately-insured person, as a result of increased cost-shifting stemming from a public plan modeled on Medicare.
It is truly frightening that the President of the United States is pressuring Congress in an all-out media blitz to pass legislation that he flatly admits he has not read and is not familiar with. President Obama owes it to the American people to stop making promises about what his health plan will or will not do until he has read it, and can properly defend it in public, to his own supporters. Quick Hits:
- Thanks to a steep drop from conservative and moderate Democrats, a plurality of Americans (49%-47%) now disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy.
- The Mayo Clinic on the House health bill: “Although there are some positive provisions in the current House Tri-Committee bill … the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite. … The real losers will be the citizens of the United States.”
- According to Wall Street Bailout watchdog Neil Barofsky, the Obama Treasury Department has refused to give, or seek, answers about the use of bailout funds, while the total bailout commitment of the federal government has risen to $23 trillion.
- Thanks to Obama’s “sweeping agenda,” the lobbyists on K Street are “awash in cash.”
- The Senate health bill gives the Health and Human Services secretary the authority to develop “standards of measuring gender” — as opposed to using the traditional “male” and “female” categories — in a database of all who apply or participate in government-run or government-supported health care plans.