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View Diary: In a Free Market, Insurers are 'free to' Walk Away (14 comments)

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  •  I think this is an illegitimate argument (7+ / 0-)

    It is the responsibility of elected officials to know what the consequences will be of legislation -- especially legislation this far-reaching.  They need to be aware of BOTH the likely intended AND the likely unintended consequences of legislation.  If you are going to impose lots of additional regulations and/or requirements on an area of the private market, you had better have considered how that private market is likely to react.  Not to do so would have been completely incompetent, and I choose to believe the Administration is not incompetent.  

    Think about it.  When the administration passed cash for clunkers, did they say "Who knew that people who might have waited to buy a car are going to buy one now instead of a year from now? We can't control what they do."  When the administration included a provision that said, if an employee works 29 hours, it costs the employer $x per hour, but if that employee works 30 hours, each of the prior 29 hours becomes more expensive, they can't say "Wow, some businesses are limiting people to 29 hours?  Who knew? That's their decision."   That's simply a silly argument.  When you provide certain incentives and restrictions in the law, you have to consider how private business will be  reacting to those measures. When you pass legislation, you are supposed to know what is the likely reaction of the people affected by that legislation.   You can't say, "we passed a law that affects them, and we can control how they react."  You are supposed to have considered that when you crafted the law.  

    So, certainly, certainly they knew when they passed the legislation that on a regular basis insurers would say to people who had insurance, "this year's premium increase is this much, but instead of paying a premium increase this year, you can increase your deductible this much."  When did the Administration make it known to people that this, for example, resulted in your policy not being "grandfathered"?  And surely the Administration knew that when they put these limited "grandfather" provisions in place, and mandated certain coverage, that was going to result in cancellations of policies by insurers. The Administration even had ESTIMATES of how many people would lose plans that they liked and wanted to keep.  

    This is a self-inflicted wound by the administration.  They clearly knew, when the President was out there saying, "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.  If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" that this was not going to be categorically true.  They clearly knew that there were going to be SOME who had to buy more expensive coverage that they did not want nor need as part of the subsidy of those who did not have access to health insurance or health care.   They clearly knew that, when the insurance companies were forced to cover things that were money losers for them, the insurance companies were going to be forced to do other things that cut costs for them (like have very restrictive doctor pools).  That's the way the system was designed.  The President should have been honest about that.  The Administration clearly knew that there were likely to be disruptions for maybe five percent of the people who had health insurance.  But instead of being candid, the President misled people into believing that we would going to bring millions of people into the system without any disruptions for ANYBODY who had health insurance that they were satisfied with.  He didn't qualify his statements so as to be honest.  He should have.   Clearly, when the ACA was passed, the Administration was aware of the effects this would have in the private insurance market.  If they were NOT aware, if they simply closed their eyes as to how the private insurance companies would react to the new strictures of the ACA, that would have been completely incompetent.  I do not believe the Administration is completely incompetent.  

    Right now, I think people need to simply accept the fact that the Administration was not candid in selling the ACA.  At this point, there's no question about that.  Even the President's supporters have admitted as much, saying, in essence, (as Robert Gibbs did this morning) well, he was only not being honest with respect to 5% of the people.   But it certainly matters to those 5%.  Trying to deny the obvious will only bring more and more stories to the forefront, like this heart-wrenching story (discussed on Morning Joe today).

      Instead of trying to deny, it is a far, far, far better message to say to people, we're sorry there have been disruptions for some people as a result of this law.  We're sorry some people are losing plans they like, or access to their doctors, as a result of some provisions of the ACA.  But we all know that anything far reaching is going to have disruptions, and in this case, it's worth it, because we believe we will all be better off in the long run.  

    The only way to stop the bleeding now is for the Administration to do a mea culpa, say they shouldn't have been so categorical about nobody who was happy with their plan losing their plan or their doctor, and focus on the fact that anything this significant is certainly going to cause disruptions in the near term but that they believe we will all be better off in the long run.  And perhaps they might even propose a fix to help smooth things over for those who feel they were misled.  

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