The Obamacare Blame Game

by Deroy Murdock
Health insurers should defend themselves against Obama’s lies and intimidation.

Beyond the relentless lies, paternalistic arrogance, and show-stopping incompetence that now define Obamacare, it now sports two new features: an assault on free speech and the severe scapegoating of a law-abiding industry.

“White House officials have pressured insurance industry executives to keep quiet amid mounting criticism over Obamacare’s rollout,” CNN’s Drew Griffin and Chris Frates reported October 30. “After insurance officials publicly criticized the implementation, White House staffers contacted insurers to express their displeasure, industry insiders said. Multiple sources declined to speak publicly about the push back because they fear retribution.”

While White House press secretary Jay Carney calls this accusation “preposterous and inaccurate,” the health insurers’ silence in this controversy is chilling. According to insurance consultant Bob Laszewski, “The White House is exerting massive pressure on the industry, including the trade associations, to keep quiet.”

There should be no need to remind anyone in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave that health-insurance companies and their employees should enjoy a little something called freedom of speech under the First Amendment. They should feel perfectly relaxed about saying whatever they want about Obamacare, or anything else. The fact that they are scared to open their mouths, lest they suffer Washington’s wrath, speaks bookshelves about the federal government’s morbid obesity in general and the near-criminal ethos of the Obama regime in particular.

In frightful contrast, Obama has been anything but taciturn in his latest tactic: vilifying health insurers.

“Before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received or used minor pre-existing conditions to jack up your premiums or bill you into bankruptcy,” Obama bellowed last week. As if prosecuting a product-liability case, Obama decried the evil insurers’ “cut-rate plans that don’t offer real financial protection in the event of a serious illness or an accident.”

Some 4.2 million Americans with canceled medical policies now recognize that Obama lied last September 26 when he said, “If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything.” As outrage grew, Obama unveiled a new lie on Monday to conceal at least 23 previous ones: “If you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

“No, no, no, no, no,” the National Journal’s Ron Fournier protested. “That’s not what the Obama administration said.”

As usual, Obama points his finger at everyone but himself. People are losing plans, Obama claims, because wicked insurers changed and, thus, invalidated them.

But why would insurers suddenly cancel coverage for 4.2 million clients, and counting? Is this the latest innovation in customer service?

“The health insurance companies are required to offer their customers new plans that comply with all of the new federal benefit and regulatory requirements,” explains Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, a health-policy think tank. “It is reckless for the White House to blame the insurance companies simply for complying with this law.”

Insurers are obeying Obamacare’s Section 2707:

A health insurance issuer that offers health insurance coverage in the individual or small group market shall ensure that such coverage includes the essential health benefits package required under section 1302(a) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

These ten new treatment categories include hearing aids, pediatric dentistry, eyeglasses for children, drug-addiction services, psychiatric care, and other things that not everyone wants or needs. And once every plan features these pricey “essentials,” Obama’s promise of “affordable” care craters, too.

Any plan that lacks these goodies and was sold after Obamacare was signed on March 23, 2010, cannot be grandfathered and, therefore, must be canceled before January 1, 2014. Obama concealed this detail when he said during the October 4, 2012, presidential debate: “If you’ve got health insurance, it doesn’t mean a government takeover. You keep your own insurance.” Obama told this lie more than two years and three months after the Federal Register published the June 17, 2010, “grandfathering” regulations that then contradicted his debate comment and today propel the outbreak of insurance cancellations.

For those whose coverage predates Obamacare, federal law now mandates that if such plans have changed ever so slightly (say, a $5.00 copayment boost), they become ungrandfathered and cannot be renewed after December 31, 2013. This rigid no-change rule is like telling someone to hold his breath and then smacking him when he tries to inhale.

Rather than let Obama slap them around in public, the top ten health-insurance CEOs should man up, hold a joint press conference, and slam Obama’s destructive, self-serving lies. If these executives hang together, it will be tough for America’s Thug-in-Chief to hang them separately.

Meanwhile, these insurers should regret having been in bed with Obama as Obamacare was conceived. They backed Obamacare in exchange for the individual mandate, which harnesses government coercion to drive new customers into the insurers’ loving arms. Now insurers find their ex-paramour badmouthing them as the root cause of every Obamacare snafu.

“Just a reminder,” former governor Haley Barbour (R., Miss.) told Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday. “Never pay the cannibals to eat you last.”

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

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