Lies, Damned Lies, and the 'Affordable Care Act'

Lies, Damned Lies, and the 'Affordable Care Act'
May 29, 2013

David L. Applegate

David Applegate is a Chicago-based trial lawyer and partner at the law firm of Williams Montgomery... (read full bio)

Quick quiz – how many of the following statements are demonstrably false:

  1. “You're going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it's always their actions you should judge them by. It's actions, not words, that matter.” – America novelist and screenwriter Nicholas Sparks, The Rescue.

  1. “Here is a guarantee that I've made. If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you've got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor. … If you like your plan, and you like your doctor, you won't have to do a thing, you keep your plan, you keep your doctor. If your employer is providing you good health insurance, terrific, we're not going to mess with it.” – U.S. President Barack Obama speaking on “The Affordable Care Act,” a/k/a Obamacare, March 23, 2010.   

  1. “We have to pass this bill to find out what’s in it.” – former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, speaking on “The Affordable Care Act,” March 21, 2012.

  1. “Say goodbye to that $500 deductible insurance plan and the $20 co-payment for a doctor’s office visit. They are likely to become luxuries of the past.”  -- New York Times reporter Reed Abelson, “High-End Health Plans Scale Back to Avoid ‘Cadillac Tax’,” May 27, 2013.

  1. “The consumer should continue to expect that their plan is going to be more expensive, and they will have less [sic] benefits.” HighRoads benefits consultant executive Cynthia Weidner, quoted in The New York Times, May 27, 2013.

If you guessed (2), of course, you’d be correct.  Spark, Abelson, Weidner – even Pelosi – are and were either correct or telling the truth as they see it.  On the signature health insurance act that unofficially carries his name, only the President was not.

The sad fact is that, even with the heavy hand of administration arm-twisting that included such bribes and buy-offs as “The Cornhusker Kickback” and “The Louisiana Purchase,” the inaptly named “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” that even Democratic Senator Max Baucus now calls a “train wreck” was rammed through the U. S. Senate by a single vote.  Those votes included Saturday Night Live comedian Al Franken of Minnesota, who won election by two or three hundred votes on a contested recount, and Roland Burris of Illinois, the man appointed to his seat by now-convicted federal inmate and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Now that the Congress has passed this Orwellian monstrosity and Ms. Pelosi and the rest of us have found out what’s in it, President Obama’s rhetorical “guarantees” have proved as phony as a three-dollar bill.  Proof that the skeptics – which includes at least some of us here at Somewhat Reasonable – were correct comes not from some Justice Department-designated criminal enterprise suspect like Fox News, but from no less an impeachable progressive source than the venerable New York Times.

Reporting on May 27, 2013, Reed Abelson outlined some of the consequences that will hit employees who used to have the kind of “good health insurance” that the President promised he was” not going to mess with” – that is, insurance plans and doctors that they liked.

“Get ready to enroll in a program to manage your diabetes” instead, writes Abelson. “Expect to have your blood pressure checked or a prescription filled at a clinic at your office, rather than by your private doctor. Then blame — or credit — the so-called Cadillac tax, which penalizes companies that offer high-end health care plans to their employees.”

Abelson cites the case of Abbey Bruce, a nursing assistant in Olympia, Washington.  Ms. Bruce reportedly actually works for a hospital but was forced to drop out of school and to take a second job pushing a mop and a broom because the hospital that employs her full-time stopped offering the plan that she and her husband liked and that President Obama promised not to “mess with.”

Starting this year, Ms. Bruce and husband Casey, who has cystic fibrosis, will reportedly see their combined deductible nearly quintuple from $500 to $2,300 and their personal responsibility for medical expenses increase to $6,600.  “My husband didn’t choose to be born this way,” The Times quoted Ms. Bruce as saying, but what is that compared to the progressive cause of national health insurance?

If you believe the Times, Ms. Bruce liked the insurance that she had but under the “Affordable Care Act” her employer isn’t allowing her to keep it, and soon, likely, neither will you.  The “Cadillac plan” tax on employers that led Ms. Bruce’s hospital to change the cost and coverage of her healthcare kicks in completely in 2018, and your employer, like Ms. Bruce’s, is probably preparing for it now.  According to the Times, Johns Hopkins health economist Bradley Herring estimates that up to three-quarters of all plans could be affected tax over the next decade.

So better begin planning for it now:  try not to get sick – or to marry someone who is.

David L. Applegate

David Applegate is a Chicago-based trial lawyer and partner at the law firm of Williams Montgomery... (read full bio)