The Corner

Obamacare QB: the ‘Individual Market Is Going Away’

On Fox News Sunday, millions of viewers (or at least those who hadn’t yet had the privilege) got to meet Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of Rahm and the man who, back in 2009, current Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse warned was “quarterbacking the details” of Obamacare and was authoring “the central plan for the next phase in the politicization of American health care.” On Sunday, more than four years after Sasse’s warning, Emanuel proclaimed that, under Obamacare, the “individual market is going away.” (Emanuel refused, however, to blame that result on Obamacare.)

Jim Capretta debated Emanuel on the show, and speaking in reference to President Obama’s oft-repeated claim that “if you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan,” he said:

People who knew the law as it was being written knew the president wasn’t telling the truth. The grandfather provision written in the law itself was too narrow, and frankly they wrote a regulation intentionally trying to get people out of the individual market.

Capretta continued:

They want the people to go into the [Obamacare] exchanges because there’s a lot of people in the individual market. The whole point of the exchanges is to close down the individual insurance market over time. . . . They wanted to move millions of people into the exchanges.

Emanuel interrupted, trying to shift the blame yet essentially concurring that, under Obamacare, the individual market would close down:

The insurance companies don’t like—the insurance companies don’t like the individual market as it’s constructed. They see the future. That individual market is going away. . . . The insurance companies are making that choice, not the president.

It’s apparently merely a coincidence, in other words, that millions of Americans are being dropped from their health plans (that they like and want to keep) just as Obamacare’s barely functioning exchanges are debuting. This is about as hard to believe as Obama’s initial claim.

During another part of the interview, Emanuel was eager to answer Wallace’s question as to why Betsy Tadder (a woman who, like millions of other Americans, is losing her health plan) needs “you or President Obama telling her what insurance she needs.” Rather than questioning the premise of Wallace’s question and replying that she doesn’t need him or Obama telling her this, Emanuel didn’t skip a beat:

For two reasons. First of all, if she goes in and that insurance doesn’t cover enough, and—which is typically what happens with these very low cost plans, and she gets sick and it exceeds, typically, we who are insured pay the difference. That’s call cost-shifting . . .

Wallace interjected, “But she likes her plan.”

Emanuel replied, “But we’re cost shifting.”

Emanuel continued, “The second thing is, just as we have safety standards for cars, you can’t buy a car without a seat belt. You can’t buy a car without an airbag.”

Wallace responded, “She is a woman who has a 24-year-old son. She is not going to have any more children. Obamacare includes maternity services, pediatric services, substance-abuse services. That’s not the air bag.”

Emanuel responded, “It is the air bag.”

Wallace said, “No, for her, it isn’t. She’s not going to need maternity services.”

Largely evading that point, Emanuel replied, “We all share in the costs so that everyone can get it. She will need another high-cost service, like cancer care or like a stroke care, God forbid, or her kid might be hit by a car, or her kid might father a baby. We have to make sure that people are covered for those things.”

The whole exchange is well worth watching, keeping in mind the following question: Do you really want a medical system that’s been overhauled—for your benefit (because you’re not smart enough to make choices for yourself)—by this fellow?

Jeffrey H. Anderson is executive director of the newly formed 2017 Project, which is working to advance a conservative reform agenda.

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