Lies of Obamacare: The five percent solution

We have reached the postmodern stage of Obama’s lies about Obamacare. He now lies about his lies, as in his non-apology for the “If you like your health plan” lie to Chuck Todd this past week. Obama asserts, and his spokesmen on the White House payroll and in the media dutifully repeat, that this particular lie is confined to a fraction of Americans who purchase their health insurance in the individual insurance market. “We’re talking about five percent of the population,” Obama stressed in his interview with Chuck Todd. The video of Chuck Todd’s interview as broadcast on NBC is below.

Obama has been incredibly successful peddling this particular lie. In columns critical of Obama last week, the Chicago Sun-Times’s Lynn Sweet accepted the veracity of the “five percent” assertion as did Slates’s John Dickerson. These are good columns by knowledgeable political reporters, yet the reporters are clueless regarding the demonstrable falsity of Obama’s “five percent” assertion. In a not so good post at the Washington Post Fix blog, Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan make the same mistake.

Based on a reading of the Federal Register, John exposed this assertion as a lie in “Lies of Obamacare, documented.” For those purchasing health care in the group insurance market, the day of reckoning has been delayed by virtue of Obama’s illegal postponement (in essence) of the employer mandate for one year. (If it was not purely cynical, the postponement was a result of technical unreadiness on the government’s end.)

At Forbes, Avik Roy subjects Obama’s non-apology to a fact check. Here is his assessment of Obama’s “five percent” assertion:

In the wake of the cancellation conflagration, the President and his deputies have attempted to minimize the problem by arguing that the failure of the “like your plan” pledge only affects “5 percent of the population”; that is, around two-thirds of the 25 million Americans who shop for coverage on their own. But that’s not true.

As I noted last week, in 2010, the Obama administration estimated that 93 million Americans would be unable to keep their prior health coverage under the narrow grandfathering provisions issued by the administration in June 2010. My colleague Chris Conover estimates that the number is 129 million. And we are here only talking about disruptions to private health plans, and not counting the law’s $716 billion in cuts to Medicare.

The level of disruption in the employer-sponsored market will be less than that in the individual market, where people shop for coverage on their own. But the President is most certainly violating his “like your plan” pledge in the employer-sponsored market, too. For example, employer-sponsored insurance will now have to cover costly, federally-dictated benefits that they did not have to cover before, rendering many plans illegal. Excise taxes on premiums, drugs, and medical devices will drive premiums upward. And the so-called “Cadillac tax” on high-value insurance plans—a meritorious idea—will force a massive restructuring of many coverage arrangements.

It’s for these reasons that Delta Air Lines has said that it will spend $100 million more on health insurance in 2014 than it did in 2013, and why labor unions have complained that Obamacare “will drive the costs of collectively bargained, union administered plans, and other plans that cover unionized workers to unsupportable levels.”

Roy then states his conclusion in fact-check style:

APOTHEFACT CONCLUSION: Obamacare renders illegal the majority of the privately-sponsored health plans in America issued prior to 2014, not merely 5 percent of them.

It is way past time for all of us, but especially for political reporters like Sweet and Dickerson et al., to get up to speed on the facts. Obama is taking advantage of your (our) ignorance.

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