By Dave Andrusko
President Obama’s press conference yesterday was universally understood to be an exercise in damage control, which provided to be futile.
Trust me, the President assured the public, he had some new rules up his sleeve that “will let insurance companies keep people on health care plans that would not have been allowed under the Affordable Care Act,” as the New York Times’ Ashley Parker, Michael D. Shear, and Robert Pear described it.
In other words insurers would be allowed to continue offering individual insurance plans for another year even if they do not comply with the law’s rules for minimum benefits, thus (in theory) stopping the stampede of insurance policy cancellations.
That this could not work and would only compound the already staggering level of problems ObamaCare is enmeshed in was obvious with hours (if not sooner).
Indeed it would be difficult to imagine a more universal round of disparaging remarks–a sure sign both of the inherent contradictions found in the “heath insurance-fix” and the President’s plummeting approval and trust ratings.
Here are the first three paragraphs of a Washington Post story written today:
“Faced with resistance from insurers and several states to his health-insurance fix, President Obama hastily summoned insurance industry executives Friday for what he called a ‘brainstorming’ session to discuss their anxieties about how the new twist in his health-care law will be carried out.
“A day after announcing a plan to delay insurance cancellations in the individual market by one year, Obama is grappling with concerns that the shift could disrupt the market and lead to higher premiums.
“Already, three states — Washington Arkansas and Vermont — have announced that they will not allow their health insurers to extend insurance policies that do not comply with minimum standards set by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the health-care law widely known as Obamacare.”
Three other states announced that they would allow the renewals while six other states (and the District of Columbia) told the Post they are trying to decide what to do. The Post’s William Branigin and Juliet Eilperin wrote
“[T]he sudden decision to convene a meeting between the president and health-care chief executives highlighted both the level of anxiety within the insurance industry about the administration’s policy fix and the many questions that remain about how it will be carried out.”
This is the last post for the week, so I’ll just make two additional quick points.
First, the President’s disastrous polling numbers (approval ratings between 39% and 42%) and the willingness of a large segment of the population to believe he deliberately did not tell the truth about ObamaCare = a President potentially at a crossroads.
The only quality that is almost as dangerous for a President as a lack of faith in his basic honesty is a sense that he is in over his head—that he lacks the necessary competency.
Those numbers are rising at the same time support for him among members of his own party is sinking.
Second, “At every single point, they’ve over-promised and under-delivered” on Obamacare, according to Matthew Dowd, who worked as President George W. Bush’s pollster. “And at every single point, they’ve chosen a short-term communications strategy, as opposed to a long-term governing strategy. And the short-term communication strategy was to put out the fire by saying ‘It’s all going to be OK,”’ Dowd told POLITICO.
At the risk of stating the super-abundantly obvious, that is the entirety of President Obama’s “style.” When even the mainstream media, which has been in his back pocket from the beginning, began reporting on the disastrous roll out of the health insurance exchange website, he kind of conceded he’d been wrong and then proposed a sound bite “solution” that creates more problems that it “solves.”
The President is in the middle of a very rough patch of water. But contrary to his first instinct—blame it all on Republicans—this is a dilemma of his own making.
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