The Obama administration and its loyalists are sticking to their guns when it comes to the president’s promise that “if you like your health-care plan, you can keep it” under his signature law.
As reports of millions of Americans’ losing the current, preferred plans roll in from across the nation, Democrats are finding new ways to spin the process or justify the cancellations, all while claiming President Obama didn’t mislead the public with his guarantee. From talk of “conversion letters” to disparaging remarks about the doomed plans, here are the top excuses Democrats are giving:
Americans aren’t receiving “so-called cancellation notices”; they’re getting help “transitioning” off their previous plans, according to Representative Sander Levin (D., Mich.). He echoed the rhetoric of Florida Blue CEO Patrick Geraghty, who made that same claim on Meet the Press earlier in the week.
2. “Bad-apple Insurers”
During a speech in Boston on Wednesday, President Obama laid the blame for canceled plans on “bad-apple insurers.” The president stood by his original promise and accused critics of being “grossly misleading.”
3. “Conversion Letters”
During her weekly press conference, Nancy Pelosi attempted to correct reports of cancellation letters by referring to them “conversion letters.” She explained that plans that have changed since the law passed are being improved by a “patients’ ‘Bill of Rights,’” and plans change from year to year anyway.
4. “Five Percent”
President Obama, Pelosi, and other Democrats have tried to downplay the scale of the cancellation problem by suggesting “fewer than 5 percent” of Americans will be affected. Ultimately though, that “5 percent” figures comes out to approximately 15 million people who will not be able to keep their plans, and other estimates are far higher, ranging to as many as 93 or 129 million plans’ being changed.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney explained that “substandard plans” would be terminated because they didn’t provide coverage for certain services, such as maternity care or prescription drugs. President Obama use the same word during his Boston speech to describe the millions of canceled plans, as have other Democrats throughout the week.
6. “A Fraction of a Fraction”
Later in the week, on Thursday, Carney said Americans losing their current healthcare plans were a “fraction of a fraction” of the population during Thursday’s daily briefing. Those elusive plans were “crummy,” according to Carney. On Friday, the press secretary claimed that that those receiving letters were just “a small sliver” of the population.
Representative Frank Pallone (D., N.J.) called pre-Obamacare insurance plans “a scam” during an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan on Wednesday night. In a later interview that same evening, Pallone told Megyn Kelly of Fox News that those plans were “lousy” and “skeletal,” and that nobody would want to buy them anymore.
James Carville argued that the plans that were canceled actually weren’t “health insurance,” because they didn’t meet certain requirements. On Hannity Wednesday night the Clinton operative called it “irresponsible” that some of the previous plans didn’t include certain types of coverage.
Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that previous plans were “empty,” thus meriting cancellation. Patrick introduced the president in Boston the day before and heralded his state’s health-care system, which has some of the nation’s highest premiums, as a model.
Democratic senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, whose tough reelection effort next year is sure to focus on Obamacare, claimed that her party’s vow was much more qualified than it sounded to most observers. “We said when we passed that, ‘If you had insurance that was good insurance that you wanted to keep it, you could keep it,’” she told The Weekly Standard.
— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.