Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Bind, A Box, A Vise, A Hole, and A Deadline
WASHINGTON — Under intense bipartisan pressure to answer mounting consumer complaints about the botched health care rollout, White House officials are struggling to make good on President Obama’s promise that Americans can keep their insurance coverage without undermining the new health law or adding unaffordable costs.
Michael Shear and Robert Pear,  “Obama in Bind Trying to Keep Health Care Vow,  New York Times,  November 12, 2013
Call it what you will – a bind, a box, a vise, or a deadline – President Obama is  either in it or up against it.
Between now and December 31, the deadline,  he must somehow try to find a way to rescind cancellations  of  5 million health plans,  which may grow to 10 million bythe end of 2013.
Obama  has Republicans on the right and Democrats on the left demanding he do something to squelch  the outcry and outrage of those who have seen their health plans cancelled  and premiums and deductibles rise in Obamacare’s  approved alternative plans.
Democrat Obamacare supporters like Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and former President Bill Clinton have called for a change in the law to stop future cancellations  and  reverse past cancellations.  Democrat Senators and Representatives are up in arms over the cancellations.  They fear for their political lives.   And Republicans are united in their opposition. They sense the opportunity  to seize control of both houses of Congress in November 2014.
President Clinton  says, “I personally believe , even if it takes a change in the law, the president should honor the commitment that the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.”  Senator Feinstein she would support a bill from Senator Mary Landrieu that would require insurance to continue to offer all plans in effect to the end of 20i3.   Feinstein says, ““Since the beginning of September, I have received 30,842 calls, emails and letters from Californians, many of whom are very distressed by cancellations of their insurance policies and who are facing increased out-of-pocket costs.”  This is not surprising since 1 million of the 5 million health plan cancellations have occurred in California;
But how to countermand the cancellations? How can President Obama reverse the triad of crises now confronting him and threatening to destroy his legacy – a crisis of credibility,  a crisis of confidence, and a crisis of competence.  How can he regain the trust of Americans   How can he get out of the hole he dug for himself  and meet the December 31 deadline?
It would require  going back into the law to change the language,   getting state insurance commissioners to approve of the change,  and then persuading hundreds of  health plans to recall  and cancel the cancellations .   The health plans would have to send millions of emails and letters and to work through a logistical  nightmare over the course of several weeks.
To paraphrase Bert Lance  (1931-2013), who served as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Jimmy Carter,   you would have to craft a new message  “ If it’s broke, fix it.”  
As matters now stand, fixing it by changing the law, persuading state insurance commissioners to go along,  and chastising health plans to reverse course for complying with the law,  will not be easy, particularly when it involves breaking  what was supposed to be a sacred progressive vow.
Tweet:  Obama is in a bind,  how to backtrack to change a law causing health plan cancellations but not break his vow that people could keep their plans,


No comments: