In yet another bizarre and extra-constitutional twist in the saga of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, a clearly sympathetic Associated Press — that's why I call it the Administration's Press — is reporting that the Obama administration is considering a three-year delay in demanding that health insurance companies drop so-called "substandard" or "junk" individual policies.
But that's not how the AP's Tom Murphy is framing the clearly leaked proposed move. You won't find the word "delay" in his entire story, which is a why a friend of mine who tried to find something about it online and couldn't thought that only Fox News was reporting it. No-no-no. The AP only describes the move as an "extension" which would take the pesky problem of arbitrarily cancelled individual policies off the table until — imagine that — after the 2016 elections (HT American Thinker via Free Republic; bolds are mine):
ADMINISTRATION SAID TO PONDER INSURANCE EXTENSION
The Obama administration is considering an extension of the president's decision to let people keep their individual insurance policies even if they are not compliant with the health care overhaul, industry and government officials said Thursday.
Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson said Thursday that the administration may let policyholders keep that coverage for as long as an additional three years, stressing that no decision has been made. Policymakers are waiting to see what rate hikes health insurers plan for the insurance exchanges that are key to the overhaul's coverage expansions.
"The administration is entertaining a range of options to ensure that this individual market has stability to it, and that would be one thing that they could do," he said.
Stop right there.
Obamacare co-architect Ezekiel Emanuel celebrated the idea that "the individual market is going away" in a contentious Fox News interview in November of last year. He also claimed that "insurance companies don't want it." Now it's the administration which wants the market to have a few years of "stability" so that it's a non-issue for three more years.
Continuing, with evidence that this was clearly a planted leak:
Avalere Health is a consulting firm, but Mendelson said his company was not advising the administration on exchange policy. He said he has had informal discussions with administration officials about the extension, but he didn't identify them.
Health and Human Services spokesman Joanne Peters confirmed that the issue is under discussion, saying: "We are continuing to examine all sorts of ways to provide consumers with more choices and to smooth the transition as we implement the law. No decisions have been made."
Aetna Inc. Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini also told analysts during a conference call Thursday to discuss quarterly earnings that he had heard the plans may be extended. Aetna is the nation's third-largest health insurer and has about 135,000 paid customers so far through the exchanges.
Note that this ordinarily secretive administration is betraying no anger over the leak, and seemed quite prepared for it.
Now let's watch Murphy recast history:
(Individual policy cancellations) became one of the most politically explosive issues in the transition to a new health insurance system under Obama's law, which ultimately aims to cover millions of uninsured people. The wave of cancellation notices — at least 4.7 million of them — hit just when the new HealthCare.gov website was experiencing some of its worst technical problems, and it undercut the president's well-publicized promise that if you liked your plan you could keep it.
The law included a complicated scheme called "grandfathering" to try to deliver on Obama's pledge. It was intended to shield policies in force at the time of the law's 2010 enactment from many new requirements, provided the policies themselves changed little. But insurers considered it impractical. And many of the cancelled individual policies would not have been eligible for relief anyway, since they were purchased after the law's passage.
The cancellations didn't "undercut" Obama's "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan, period" promise, Tom. They nuked it. They indisputably exposed Obama's unconditional guarantee as a flat-out lie.
Murphy also omitted the fact that tens of millions of employer policies are also on track for cancellation, based on a study published in the Federal Register in June 2010.
This gets to what Murphy wouldn't report. Oh, he'll say that journalists aren't supposed to speculate, even though they do it all the time, so spare me the sanctimony. Isn't it reasonable to ask whether this floated idea is a prelude to a similar three-year delay in the employer-sponsored plan market? I think so, and I'll bet Tom Murphy does too.
Murphy didn't explore an obvious point American Thinker's Thomas Lifson raised:
The Constitution does not give a president the right to suspend provisions of duly passed and signed laws for his own political convenience.
Ah yes. The Constitution. Remember that, Tom Murphy?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.