USAT: Obama 'Tweaking' His 'You Can Keep Your Plan' Guarantee, 'Added Caveat'

November 5th, 2013 11:00 AM

This morning, in an apparent rush to get a jump on the rest of the excuse-making establishment press, Aamer Madhani at USA Today claimed that President Barack Obama's shameless, lame Monday night attempt to explain away his serial guarantee, namely that "If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep your health insurance plan, period" — made roughly two dozen times in 2009 and 2010, and repeated on the campaign trail in 2012 — represented a "tweaking of his claim" in which he "added a caveat." So that makes it all okay. (/sarc)

Madhani also acted as if it's only Republicans who have directed "an avalanche of criticism" at Obama. He also swallowed the false line that "only" 5 percent of Americans have been affected, ignoring a similar impact in the small group market and several well-known large-employer terminations of plans which had been offered to part-timers and retirees. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post; numbered tags are mine):

Obama adds caveat to 'You can keep it' declaration
Obama's tweaking [1] comes after he has faced criticism from Republicans, as millions of Americans are receiving cancellation notices from their insurance providers.

President Obama has added a caveat to his oft-repeated pledge that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.


Speaking to more than 200 supporters on Monday night in Washington, Obama added some significant verbiage to his declaration — "if you like your current insurance, you keep that insurance" — that was a standard part of his public pitch on his signature health care legislation dating to 2009. [2]

"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," he said.

Obama's tweaking of his claim comes after he has faced an avalanche of criticism from Republicans, who say the declaration has proven to be untrue [3] as millions of Americans are receiving cancellation notices from their insurance providers.

Administration officials have stressed it should be no surprise that a slice of the 5% of U.S. consumers who are on the individual insurance market would be forced to switch plans [4] as a result of insurance providers dealing with meeting the minimum benefit requirement established under the law.

... The president expressed frustration that he's getting beat up for the insurance cancellations.

"People are acting like this is some new phenomenon," Obama said. "Every year there was churn in this individual market. The average increase was double-digits on premiums in the same market, with or without the Affordable Care Act. People were getting, oftentimes, a very bad deal." [5]

Despite the president's protestations, the issue is unlikely to go away for Obama anytime soon.


[1] — defines a "tweak" as "to make a minor adjustment to." Obama's "if it didn't change" revision to what was a guarantee is no "tweak," not after an original "You can keep your plan, period" promise containing zero exceptions.

[2] — If it was "some significant verbiage," how is it is a mere "tweak"? Answer: It obviously isn't.

[3] — Two things. First, this isn't about "who says" that Obama lied when he made his guarantee. It is an objective fact that Obama lied when he made his guarantee. The administration has known that the guarantee was untrue since mid-2010, and the many of the drafters of the "we have to pass it so you can see what is in it" law surely understood the untruthfulness of the President's guarantee months before the Affordable Care Act's passage. Second, it isn't only Republicans who have recognized the obvious. Plenty of the individual market's victims are Democrats, and have said so.

[4] — The ACA's victims are not only in the individual market. The small employer group market (example here) has seen a wave of cancellations. Additionally, as Chris Wallace noted on Fox News Sunday, large companies like Walgreens and K-Mart have terminated plans they had for part-timers and thrown them to the tender, mostly non-functioning mercies of the Obamacare exchanges. Finally, a year from now, when the employer mandate is scheduled to kick in, many more companies will look at the full cost of compliance and plan design changes and will decide to terminate their plans. Perhaps the next "tweak" will be to add "this year" to Obama's original guarantee.

[5] — One of the myths which is somehow surviving in all of this is the idea that Obamacare plans have incredibly wonderful and affordable coverage, while individual plans were uniformly awful. Tell that to "Charles in Alabama," whose story was at RedState yesterday:

... I have struggled to pay $735 per month to Blue Cross Blue Shield for health care insurance for my family, but I am a believer that it is important to guard against catastrophe, so I have paid that large amount, completely out of pocket, ever since going into business for myself. This means I write a personal check for the entire amount every month.

We received our Affordable Care Act letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield this week, and were informed that our new monthly premium starting January 1, for much reduced benefits, will rise from $735 to $1,114.61, with our yearly deductible tripling; this monthly premium is more than my house payment. Upon further investigation, we have found that for our benefits to stay the same as they are today, our premium would be about $1,600 per month. The cheapest alternative for us in an ACA compliant policy is $870 per month, with a yearly deductible of $12,700; in this plan, our family would have the ability to go to a doctor three times in a year (per family) and pay a co-pay; after that, all medical expenses would come 100% out of pocket until the deductible was met. Under that scenario, I don’t foresee any circumstance where any of us would ever again get health screenings, or participate in tests such as colonoscopies. Preventative medicine will no longer be an option for us.

As I noted in response this morning at my home blog:

Charles will have to pay thousands more per year out of his own pocket before any insurance coverage kicks in (other than a couple of things like annual physicals, perhaps). And to be able to do even that, he’ll have to pay $4,560 more per year ($380 monthly difference times 12).

If he wants to match the benefits he has today ... he would have to pay over $10,000 more per year ($865 difference times 12).

I think we all know who is providing the real “scam insurance.”

Madhani's mess is probably the opening round in a tidal wave of establishment press dissembling. Brace yourself.

Cross-posted at