Every disaster has its moment of clarity. Physicist Richard Feynman dunks an O-ring into ice water and everyone understands instantly why the shuttle Challenger exploded. This week, the Obamacare O-ring froze for all the world to see: Hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters went out to people who had been assured a dozen times by the president that “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan. Period.”
The cancellations lay bare three pillars of Obamacare: (a) mendacity, (b) paternalism and (c) subterfuge.
(a) Those letters are irrefutable evidence that President Barack Obama’s repeated you-keep-your-coverage claim was false. Why were they sent out? Because Obamacare renders illegal (with exceedingly narrow “grandfathered” exceptions) the continuation of any insurance plan deemed by Washington regulators not to meet their arbitrary standards for adequacy. Example: No maternity care? You are terminated.
So a law designed to cover the uninsured is now throwing far more people off their insurance than it can possibly be signing up on the nonfunctioning insurance exchanges. Indeed, most of the 19 million people with individual insurance will have to find new and likely more expensive coverage. That’s a lot of people. That’s a pretty big lie.
Look at how the New York Times covered the “keep your plan” whopper — buried on page 17 with a headline calling the cancellations a “prime target.” As if this is a partisan issue and not a brazen falsehood clear to any outside observer — say, Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler, who gave the president’s claim four Pinocchios.
(b) Beyond mendacity, there is liberal paternalism, of which these forced cancellations are a classic case. We canceled your plan, explained Jay Carney, because it was substandard. We have a better idea. Translation: Sure, you freely chose the policy, paid for the policy, renewed the policy, liked the policy. But you’re too primitive to know what you need. We do.
(c) As for subterfuge, Obamacare is the largest transfer of wealth in recent American history. But you can’t say that openly lest you lose elections. So you do it by subterfuge: hidden taxes, penalties, mandates and coverage requirements that yield a surplus of overpayments. When you find your policy canceled, your premium raised and your deductible increased, you’ve learned the meaning of “free” in the liberal lexicon: something paid for by your neighbor.
Charles Krauthammer writes for the Washington Post.