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The Lies that Sold Obamacare
They went beyond the “you can keep your plan” pledge.


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Mona Charen

Remember Obama’s mother? Though the airwaves currently echo with the vow, “If you like your plan . . . ,” I keep remembering Obama’s account of his mother being denied coverage by her insurance company as she lay dying of cancer.

The moving and infuriating story was a staple on the 2008 campaign trail. His mother had insurance, he explained, but when she came down with cancer, her insurance company claimed that her disease was a “preexisting” condition and refused to pay for her treatment. In a debate with John McCain, Obama said:

For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a preexisting condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.

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There would be, if it had been true. But when New York Times reporter Janny Scott researched the issue for her biography of the president’s mother, she discovered letters proving beyond a doubt that CIGNA never denied Dunham coverage for her disease. The dispute was over a disability plan that would have paid some of Dunham’s other expenses.

The White House did not deny Scott’s account, but shrugged it off as something that had happened long ago. Not so long that it couldn’t be milked one last time, though, for a 2012 campaign film. In The Road We’ve Traveled, the message remained unchanged — a greedy insurance company had cut off Stanley Ann Dunham at her moment of maximum vulnerability and cost her her life.

If someone comes to you and asks for financial aid to cope with a family member who is gravely ill, and you comply, how are you going to feel when you learn that there is no sick relative? It’s different in politics, explained Michael Cohen, in the New York Daily News. The American people want too many contradictory things. “Seemingly the only path to change is telling voters what they want to hear.”

Doubtless that’s what Mr. Obama tells himself to justify his deceptions. It’s a form of “lying for justice.” If your goals are noble enough, truth is an acceptable casualty.

Mr. Obama’s propensity to lie is finally widely acknowledged, but that acknowledgment hasn’t gone far enough. It isn’t just that the pledge about keeping your plan was a noble lie — the whole law is based upon lies.

The Stanley Dunham tale was meant to personify the hundreds of thousands or millions of Americans who were “dumped” by insurance companies when they got sick. This is an invented tale, and might have been rebutted by the insurance industry if they hadn’t gotten into bed with Obama in 2010 in return for millions of coerced new customers. As the Washington Free Beacon reported, academic studies have estimated that policies were dropped in only four-tenths of 1 percent of cases in the individual market.

In a 2010 radio address, Obama claimed that one carrier was “systematically dropping the coverage of women diagnosed with breast cancer.” The CEO of Wellpoint, which had reason to believe the president was referring to her company, responded that they had provided coverage in the previous year to 200,000 breast-cancer patients and had canceled just four policies for fraud or misrepresentation.

If there had been a true epidemic of wrongly canceled policies, wouldn’t there have been a slew of lawsuits and an outcry?

The notion that the nation faced a “crisis” of “46 million uninsured” was also dishonest. Pre-Obamacare health care in America was hardly nirvana, but the truth about the uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office, was that 71 percent were without insurance for a year or less. Only about 16 percent were uninsured for two or more years. More than 9 million of those counted among the uninsured were not citizens. Another 6 million who said they were without insurance actually were signed up with Medicaid, and 4 million more were eligible for Medicaid but had failed to enroll.

The true number of the uninsured was closer to 15 million (5 million of whom were young, single adults). There were many possible solutions for them that didn’t require tearing down the entire system. In any case, the CBO estimates that even if Obamacare were fully implemented, and worked smoothly, the number of uninsured Americans in 2023 would be, drumroll please, 30 million.

Obamacare was never about the uninsured, or justice for those badly treated by insurance companies. It was always about power — gaining it and keeping it for the Democratic party and the central government. It was based on lies about the preceding system and sold on lies about its consequences.

Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2013 Creators Syndicate, Inc.



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