Feds knew in 2010 that Obamacare violated president’s ‘keep your plan’ promise

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Federal regulators have known for years that the vast majority of individual health-insurance policies held by 14 million Americans would be killed off quickly by Obamacare regulations.

The regulators’ predictions sharply contradicted President Barack Obama’s repeated claims that no-one would lose their health insurance policies once Obamacare was implemented.

Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, grudgingly acknowledged Oct. 28 that some policies are being ended. But he downplayed the impact, and he didn’t admit that the president’s regulations flatly contradict Obama’s repeated promises.

“We will keep this promise to the American people… if you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan, period,” Obama said June 23, 2009. Aided by that and other similar promises, Democrats pushed the Obamacare takeover through Congress in March, 2010, without any GOP votes.

“It’s true that there are existing health care plans on the individual market that don’t meet those minimum standards and therefore do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act,” Carney acknowledged when questioned Oct. 28 by Fox News’ Ed Henry in Monday’s daily press briefing.

Carney did not apologize for Obama’s broken promises, but instead tried to focus on popular aspects of Obamacare, or on secret surveillance programs or gay rights.

“Americans who have insurance on the existing individual market will now have numerous options available to them, and 6 out of 10 will pay less than $100 per month in premiums for better insurance,” he said.

“Eighty-plus percent of the American people already get insurance through their employer, through Medicare, through Medicaid [and] don’t have to worry about or do or change anything,” he insisted.

When he was asked what percentage of Americans will lose their individual plans, and so be forced to buy more expensive defined-benefit plans that comply with Obamacare, Carney simply punted. “For that kind of question, I encourage you to participate in the regular briefings held at CMS,” he said. CMS is the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Studies at the Department of Health and Human Services.

However, officials revealed the answer in a draft 2010 regulation.

More than 70 percent of the plans used by individuals would be cancelled in three years, predicted the draft regulation, published in the June 17, 2010 edition of The Federal Register, a daily government publication.

The regulation suggested that only about 30 percent of plans were held for more than 3 years. That’s important because the regulations allow plans held prior to Obamacare’s launch to be “grandfathered” into the Obamacare system.

“One study found that 17 percent of individuals maintained their policies for more than two years, while another found that nearly 30 percent maintained policies for more than three years,” said the regulation, which was exposed Oct. 28 by NBC News.

But the 2010 regulation also noted that percentage of surviving plans would fall because Obamacare limits companies’ routine practice of modestly changing customers’ pre-Obamacare plans each year. Once the routine changes reach a low threshold set by Obamacare regulators, the grandfathered plan is cancelled, forcing the buyer to pick  a new Obamacare-compliant plan.

“The Departments estimate that the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 percent to 67 percent range,” said the regulation.

Four insiders told NBC that up to three-quarters of individual health-insurance plans held by the estimated 14 million would be cancelled quickly by the Obamacare regulations.

There is some good news for Carney in the 2010 regulation, because it suggested that many plans are cancelled by the buyers, not by government policy. “Reliable data are scant, but a variety of studies indicate that between 40 percent and 67 percent of policies are in effect for less than one year,” said the draft regulation.

Carney is likely to use that paragraph to say that many Americans will be quitting — not losing — their pre-Obamacare policies.

But the regulation did not say if the plans end because individuals switch plans, or because health-insurance companies end the plans.

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