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Democrats Double Down on Dishonesty

November 5, 2013

On September 10, 2009, President Obama spoke about his health care reform plan and promised:

“Nothing in this plan will require you, or your employer, to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Nothing will change for you if you have insurance. Nothing in the plan will require any changes.”

But just yesterday, more than three years later, President Obama refined his pledge:

“Now if you 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.”

At least 3.5 million Americans have received insurance plan cancellations. People are learning insurers had to cancel certain plans because they didn’t meet all of Obamacare’s new rules and mandates. Caught red handed breaking the Democrats’ unqualified promise, a top White House aide tried shifting blame, tweeting: “FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans.”

fact check

The American people understand the blame lies with President Obama and Washington Democrats. In passing their law, they made a huge public policy promise to Americans:

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “It not only means making sure you can keep your family’s doctor or keep your health care plan if you like it, but also that you can afford to do so.” (July 28, 2009)
  • Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin: “Many people say: ‘I like my health insurance right now. I don’t want to change. I don’t want to go into Medicare or Medicaid. I like what I have. Would you please leave people alone?’ The answer is yes. In fact, we guarantee it.” (July 30, 2009)
  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus: “That is why one of the central promises of health care reform has been and is: If you like what you have, you can keep it. That is critically important.” (September 29, 2010)
  • Senator Kay Hagan: “People who have insurance they’re happy with can keep it.” (June 18, 2009)

The issue has to do with Section 1251 of the health care law. It provides that anyone who had an insurance policy on March 23, 2010 – and continued to renew it – could keep it even after Obamacare’s exchanges launched. Less than three months after President Obama signed his health care bill into law, the Administration issued a regulation that unilaterally dismantled Section 1251 of the health care law. It set very specific criteria that health plans had to meet in order to be “grandfathered” – or protected from Obamacare’s new rules and mandates.

The Obama Administration decided – all on its own – that any routine change made to a grandfathered plan would invalidate the promise that you can keep what you had. The regulation placed unreasonably tight restrictions on grandfathered policies, saying they:

  • Cannot significantly cut or reduce benefits;
  • Cannot raise co-insurance charges;
  • Cannot significantly raise co-payment charges;
  • Cannot significantly raise deductibles;
  • Cannot add to or restrict annual limits; and
  • Cannot completely change insurance companies.

Many consumers want the freedom to increase their plan deductible or co-payments rather than pay a higher monthly premium. Obamacare’s grandfather regulation takes that choice away. Now consumers have only one option – change absolutely nothing in the insurance policy design and take the price increase.

Based on normal policy turnover, the Administration’s own economic impact analysis predicted that 40 to 67 percent of customers buying in the individual market would not be able to keep their policy and that 39 to 69 percent of all businesses would lose their grandfathered health plan status. By 2013, the Administration estimated, up to 80 percent of small business health plans would no longer be grandfathered.

Republicans saw the train wreck coming and tried to stop it. In 2010, Senator Mike Enzi brought to the floor a resolution to immediately overturn the Administration’s onerous grandfather regulation. Senate Democrats voted in lockstep to keep the rule on the books.

The President and Washington Democrats clearly want to force all Americans to buy only health insurance plans that they believe are adequate. The White House knew that President Obama’s promise wasn’t true. Instead of coming clean with the American people, Washington Democrats just kept trying to sell it. Now they’re getting what they asked for – government approved insurance – and hardworking Americans are paying for it.