President Obama has repeatedly asserted that if the health care reform he supports is enacted, everyone will be able to keep their current coverage. For example, on Saturday, in Grand Junction, Colorado, he declared:
I keep on saying this but somehow folks aren’t listening. If you like your health-care plan, you keep your health-care plan. Nobody is going to force you to leave your health-care plan.
Similarly, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Obama stated:
Now let me just start by setting the record straight on a few things. I’ve been hearing out here about reform. Under the reform we’re proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.
And at a July 28 town hall meeting with members of AARP, Obama proclaimed:
Here’s the guarantee that I’ve made: If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance.
Obama is not telling the truth, though, as the Washington Post demonstates in a feature called “truth squading health care reform.” First, under the health care legislation written by all three House committees, eligible employers could move workers into a new marketplace for insurance (called an exchange). There is no guarantee that any of the options available in the exchange would be the same as the coverage currently provided by one’s employer.
Second, the reform legislation could prompt some employers simply to stop covering employees. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that three million Americans would lose their coverage in this way.
According to the Post, even White House spokesperson Linda Douglass has acknowledged that there will be some dropping of coverage. Yet the president persists in making the patently false claim that everyone who likes their plan can keep their plan.
A president can recover from a legislative defeat, even a high profile one. But once squandered, a president’s credibility probably cannot be retrieved. Unfortunately, Obama seems too arrogant to appreciate this reality.