Delroy Murdoch: Health insurers ought to defend themselves from Obama
"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 Oct. 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 silence of health insurers amid 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."
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 recently. 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 just last Sept. 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 Monday to conceal at least 23 previous ones. He told supporters: "What we said was you can keep it (your health plan) 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 everywhere but inward. 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 10 new treatment categories include hearing aids, pediatric dentistry, eyeglasses for children, drug-addiction services, psychiatric care, and other things that not everyone wants nor needs. And once every plan features these pricey "essentials," Obama's "affordable care" promise 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 Jan. 1, 2014. Obama concealed this detail when he said during the Oct. 4, 2012 presidential debate: "If you've got health insurance, it doesn't mean a government takeover. You keep your own insurance."
For those whose coverage pre-dates ObamaCare, federal law now mandates that if such plans have changed ever so slightly (say a $5.00 co-insurance boost) they become ungrandfathered and cannot be renewed after Dec. 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 10 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.
Deroy Murdock is a 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.