How desperate is the White House to counter complaints from Americans losing their health insurance as a result of ObamaCare?
Consider senior White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer who in response to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by a cancer survivor Monday actually tweeted an article from the far-left website ThinkProgress contesting the patient's claim:
— Dan Pfeiffer (@pfeiffer44) November 4, 2013
Before we get to TP - and trust me, TP is the perfect descriptor for this dishonest rag! - let's review some of Edie Littlefield Sundby's op-ed:
For almost seven years I have fought and survived stage-4 gallbladder cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 2% after diagnosis. I am a determined fighter and extremely lucky. But this luck may have just run out: My affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.
My choice is to get coverage through the government health exchange and lose access to my cancer doctors, or pay much more for insurance outside the exchange (the quotes average 40% to 50% more) for the privilege of starting over with an unfamiliar insurance company and impaired benefits.
How did TP respond with Pfeiffer's endorsement?
But Sundby shouldn’t blame reform — United Healthcare dropped her coverage because they’ve struggled to compete in California’s individual health care market for years and didn’t want to pay for sicker patients like Sundby.
The company, which only had 8,000 individual policy holders in California out of the two million who participate in the market, announced (along with a second insurer, Aetna) that it would be pulling out of the individual market in May. The company could not compete with Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente, who control more than 80 percent of the individual market. “Over the years, it has become more difficult to administer these plans in a cost-effective way for our members,” UnitedHealth spokeswoman Cheryl Randolph explained. “We will continue to keep a major presence in California, focusing instead on large and small employers.” [...]
And then there is the company’s own justification for leaving. “The company’s plans reflect its concern that the first wave of newly insured customers under the law may be the costliest,” UHC Chief Executive Officer Stephen Helmsley told investors last October. “UnitedHealth will watch and see how the exchanges evolve and expects the first enrollees will have ‘a pent-up appetite’ for medical care. We are approaching them with some degree of caution because of that.”
Get that? The company packed its bags and dumped its beneficiaries because it wants its competitors to swallow the first wave of sicker enrollees only to re-enter the market later and profit from the healthy people who still haven’t signed up for coverage.
Sundby is losing her coverage and her doctors because of a business decision her insurer made within the competitive dynamics of California’s health care market.
Let's look at the articles TP linked to for the truth. The first was a Los Angeles Times piece from May 22:
Some prominent health insurers, including industry giant UnitedHealth Group Inc., are not participating in California's new state-run health insurance market, possibly limiting the number of choices for millions of consumers.
UnitedHealth, the nation's largest private insurer, Aetna Inc. and Cigna Corp. are sitting out the first year of Covered California, the state's insurance exchange and a key testing ground nationally for a massive coverage expansion under the federal healthcare law. [...]
A spokesman for Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealth said, "We are simply taking the time to carefully evaluate and better understand how the exchanges will work to ensure we are best prepared to participate meaningfully in their development."
See anything in that piece where UH said it "didn’t want to pay for sicker patients like Sundby?"
No, I don't either.
The second link goes to a July 2 Market Watch article with the relevant section already cited by TP. However, nowhere did the piece claim as TP did that UH was pulling out of California because it "could not compete with Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente, who control more than 80 percent of the individual market."
The third link goes to a May 31 Bloomberg piece marvelously titled "UnitedHealth Spurns Obama Exchanges as Rules Stall Profit":
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) will offer coverage in just a dozen of the U.S. health-care law’s new insurance exchanges, in the latest sign big insurers see little gain from quickly plunging into the new markets.
The country’s largest health insurer is taking a conservative approach to the online markets set to open in states Oct. 1, Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hemsley told investors yesterday at the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. conference in New York. The company’s plans reflect its concern that the first wave of newly insured customers under the law may be the costliest, Hemsley said.
UnitedHealth will “watch and see” how the exchanges evolve and expects the first enrollees will have “a pent-up appetite” for medical care, Hemsley said. “We are approaching them with some degree of caution because of that.” [...]
Hemsley, the UnitedHealth CEO, said in January that the company expected to sell in 10 to 25 of the new marketplaces, though he stressed the number might change. He told investors yesterday that he’s wary of the exchanges’ high-cost membership.
“There will be opportunities to come back in and serve those markets as those risk pools mature,” he said.
As such, UH has indeed made a business decision - one that is specifically related to ObamaCare! - that it is not interested in participating in certain states' exchanges at this time because it doesn't believe that will be profitable.
What this means is that unlike what TP told readers - and Pfeiffer endorsed by tweeting! - Sundby's coverage has indeed been cancelled BECAUSE of ObamaCare.
Suggesting otherwise is as dishonest as telling people they'd be able to keep their health insurance plans and their doctors if they liked them.
But that a senior White House advisor would disseminate such detritus to rebut the claim of a cancer survivor is deplorable.
Sadly, there is no floor to the depths this administration will sink to defend itself or advance its agenda.