Fortune Editor Breaks With CNNers On ObamaCare; IDs 5 Freedoms Lost, Inevitable State Control

August 10th, 2009 11:35 PM

Someone forgot to send the CNN health care kool-aid over to the office of Fortune editor at large Shawn Tully in the days leading up to July 24. Tully in turn forgot to toot his own horn, and ObamaCare opponents forgot to take a peek inside what is normally enemy lines to find it.

In a must-read special report at affiliate, Tully lays bare Barack Obama's core claim, while identifying five freedoms many Americans will lose if ObamaCare passes in its current form. In fact, Tully's piece is so good, it should be the equivalent of Betsy McCaughey's 1994 broadside that helped torpedo HillaryCare -- if only people knew about it.

Anyone who knows the e-mail address of CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, who, as Matthew Balan of NewsBusters noted earlier today, is an ardent ObamaCare defender, should forward Tully's column to her. Copies to Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Howard Kurtz, and many others at CNN wouldn't hurt either.

Here are the introductory paragraphs and key points Tully made (bolds in text are mine):

5 freedoms you'd lose in health care reform
If you read the fine print in the Congressional plans, you'll find that a lot of cherished aspects of the current system would disappear.

In promoting his health-care agenda, President Obama has repeatedly reassured Americans that they can keep their existing health plans -- and that the benefits and access they prize will be enhanced through reform.

A close reading of the two main bills, one backed by Democrats in the House and the other issued by Sen. Edward Kennedy's Health committee, contradict the President's assurances. .... page by page, the bills reveal a web of restrictions, fines, and mandates that would radically change your health-care coverage.

If you prize choosing your own cardiologist or urologist under your company's Preferred Provider Organization plan (PPO), if your employer rewards your non-smoking, healthy lifestyle with reduced premiums, if you love the bargain Health Savings Account (HSA) that insures you just for the essentials, or if you simply take comfort in the freedom to spend your own money for a policy that covers the newest drugs and diagnostic tests -- you may be shocked to learn that you could lose all of those good things under the rules proposed in the two bills that herald a health-care revolution.

In short, the Obama platform would mandate extremely full, expensive, and highly subsidized coverage -- including a lot of benefits people would never pay for with their own money -- but deliver it through a highly restrictive, HMO-style plan that will determine what care and tests you can and can't have. It's a revolution, all right, but in the wrong direction.

Tully then lists and discusses the five freedoms lost under ObamaCare:

  1. Freedom to choose what's in your plan
  2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs
  3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage
  4. Freedom to keep your existing plan
  5. Freedom to choose your doctors

The following paragraphs from Tully about Point 4 should be enough to shut down the nonsensical claim that ObamaCare won't ultimately end up being state-controlled and state-run, whether you're currently in an ERISA (i.e., company-sponsored) plan or not (bolds are mine):

The bill gives ERISA employers a five-year grace period when they can keep offering plans free from the restrictions of the "qualified" policies offered on the exchanges. But after five years, they would have to offer only approved plans, with the myriad rules we've already discussed. So for Americans in large corporations, "keeping your own plan" has a strict deadline. In five years, like it or not, you'll get dumped into the exchange. As we'll see, it could happen a lot earlier.

The outlook is worse for the second group. It encompasses employees who aren't under ERISA but get actual insurance either on their own or through small businesses. After the legislation passes, all insurers that offer a wide range of plans to these employees will be forced to offer only "qualified" plans to new customers, via the exchanges.

The employees who got their coverage before the law goes into effect can keep their plans, but once again, there's a catch. If the plan changes in any way -- by altering co-pays, deductibles, or even switching coverage for this or that drug -- the employee must drop out and shop through the exchange. Since these plans generally change their policies every year, it's likely that millions of employees will lose their plans in 12 months.

Wow. After ready Tully's column, even those who have deeply imbibed the kool-aid won't be able to say they weren't warned.

Cross-posted at