We've written a fair amount about how Obamacare's financial model is only sustainable if a critical mass of young and healthy Americans sign up for overpriced coverage, the purpose of which would be to offset costs associated with insuring millions of older, sicker Americans. For months, the White House declined to reveal how many young consumers had taken the plunge. That opacity finally (partially) ended this week, when an administration report finally unveiled the percentage of 'young invincibles' in the overall risk pool: Twenty-four percent -- well short of Team Obama's projected goal of nearly 40 percent, and even shy of the Kaiser Foundation's "worst-case scenario." What portion of that 24 percent is actually paid up and fully enrolled? We still don't know. Young people's paltry participation rates to date have fueled fears of an industry death spiral, expensive taxpayer bailouts, and hiked 2015 premiums. With more consternation on the horizon, the administration has decided to change its own metric for success. Again. Consider the goalposts officially shifted, America:
The White House is scaling back another self-imposed standard for Obamacare's success—and it's one the administration has spent months promoting. White House officials consistently—and accurately—argue that the most important metric for Obamacare's success this year is the mix of young and old enrollees. But they're backing away from their own goals for that mix. Getting young people into the system is critical to holding down premiums, and therefore to keeping each state's insurance market stable. Administration officials previously said their target was for young adults to make up about 38 percent of Obamacare enrollees. Now that standard is down to about 30 percent. Or maybe even 24 percent—where the mix stands now.
Hell, why not drop the threshold down to 12 percent? Then they would have doubled their goal! Great success! This is hardly the first time the Obamacare brain trust has simply deserted an inconvenient metric mid-stream. In addition to all of the website functionality issues and punted deadlines, here are a handful of prime examples:
(1) We were told that officials expected 7 million Americans to sign up for private coverage under the new law by the end of March. As that target slid out of reach, Kathleen Sebelius basically said "never mind that was never our goal anyway.
(2) Democrats also marketed the law as a cost-reducing endeavor, hence the legislation's name, the "Affordable Care Act." President Obama said the following in 2010: “My proposal will bring down the cost of health care for millions: Families, businesses, and the federal government.” The administration has continued to parrot that fiction, cynically distorting government statistics in a feeble attempt to claim victory. In truth, one of the law's chief architects has now conceded that reducing spending and costs was never realistic. "The law isn't designed to save money. It's designed to improve health, and that's going to cost money," Jon Gruber told the Washington Post several weeks ago
(3) Nancy Pelosi described Obamacare as a jobs bill that would create 4 million new jobs, 400,000 of which would materialize immediately. That promise has vanished into thin air. On rising premiums, Pelosi now says she "doesn't remember" ever saying that everyone's rates would go down under the Democrats' law. Verbatim quote from Nancy Pelosi: "Everybody will have lower rates." Oops!
(4) President Obama and his Democratic foot soldiers pledged ad nauseam that under Obamacare, "if you like your plan, you can keep it. Period." When that vow proved to be untrue for millions, Obama tried to quell the resulting uproar by serving up a half-baked apology and trying to rewrite his famous quote: "What we said was, you could keep it if it hasn't changed since the law was passed." Nope, that's not what you said, champ:
They knew it at the time, and they know it now, hence the Four-Pinocchios Lie of the Year awards. I'll leave you with Jimmy Kimmel ridiculing the raw deal Obamacare offers young people and expressing puzzlement over how the federal government has spent more than $170 million on penis pumps (true story) since 2004:
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography