CNN: Say, Did the White House Mislead Us on the Costs of Obamacare?

Posted: Mar 28, 2013 10:21 AM

This report was prompted by two stories we've covered this week: (1) Kathleen Sebelius' belated admission that some Americans will, in fact, see their premiums rise due to the "Affordable" Care Act, and (2) the American Society of Actuaries' determination that insurers will see claim pay-outs on individual plans rise by 32 percent as a result of the law.  This wasn't how things were supposed to be, according to the administration's deeply dishonest sales pitch.  CNN aired this segment last night:

Yes, that report really included a clip of a White House lackey assailing a nonpartisan actuarial organization for rudely producing rigorous estimates that deviated from the president's preferred narrative.  Obama vs. math -- how thoroughly appropriate.  (Perhaps Obama's SuperPAC can run some ads accusing the bookkeepers of giving their numbers cancer. "These anti-women calculators are too extreme!").  In spite of the administration's churlish attacks, the professional accountants are standing by their politically- inconvenient numbers.  The concession from Sebelius is doubly notable because of her infamous 2010 threat against insurers who told the truth about Obamacare's impact on costs and premiums:

Witness Kathleen Sebelius's Thursday letter to America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group—a thuggish message even by her standards. The Health and Human Services secretary wrote that some insurers have been attributing part of their 2011 premium increases to ObamaCare and warned that "there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases." Zero tolerance for expressing an opinion, or offering an explanation to policyholders? They're more subtle than this in Caracas. What Ms. Sebelius really means is that the government will prohibit insurers from doing business if reality is not politically convenient for Democrats. ObamaCare includes a slew of mandated benefits for next year, such as allowing children to remain on their parents' plans until age 26 and "free" preventative care (i.e., no direct out-of-pocket cost sharing for consumers). The tone of Ms. Sebelius's letter suggests that she doesn't understand that money is exchanged for goods and services, and that if Congress mandates new benefits, premiums will rise.  

The HHS Secretary's updated line is a classic exercise in goalpost-moving and expectations management, an even starker example of which we covered over the weekend.  Out: Legislative perfection!  In: (Hopefully) not a "third-world experience!"

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