Badger: Valerie Jarrett’s Mendacious Tweet

This from Doug Badger:

Valerie Jarrett Verified account@vj44 Tweet:

FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans.

She is being utterly mendacious. Section 1251 of PPACA is entitled, “Preservation of Right to Maintain Existing Coverage.” It states (1251(a)(1)) : “Nothing in this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) shall be construed to require that an individual terminate coverage under a group health plan or health insurance coverage in which such individual was enrolled on the date of enactment of this Act.”

So if you had an insurance policy on March 23, 2010, and you continued to renew it (i.e., no lapses in coverage), then you had the right to keep it even after the exchanges were established. That is the plain meaning of the words. The bill’s supporters repeatedly pointed to this section as delivering on the President’s promise that “if you like what you have, you can keep it.”

But in the first of what became many regulatory improvisations, the Administration stripped people of a right that ObamaCare had explicitly preserved. They feared that the millions of people who had bought their own coverage really did like it and would prefer it to plans sold through the exchanges. That would keep these people out of the exchange pools, increasing the risk of adverse selection.

Their interim final rule – written on June 17, 2010, less than three months after the President signed the law – provided this rationale for undoing section 1251:

“The statute does not, however, address at what point changes to a group health plan or health insurance coverage in which an individual was enrolled on March 23, 2010 are significant enough to cause the plan or health insurance coverage to cease to be a grandfathered health plan, leaving that question to be addressed by regulatory guidance.”

With that sentence, the Administration granted itself the power to strip millions of Americans of their “right to maintain [their] existing coverage.” The statute is not silent on this point; it is definitive. It unambiguously states that if a policy was in effect on March 23, 2010, it could be renewed indefinitely. The Administration simply made up the idea that, at some point, changes to insurance coverage (which are made routinely) would strip policyholders of their right to keep the insurance coverage they like, a right that Obamacare guaranteed.
The rule went on to say that if plans, for example, changed their deductibles or cost-sharing requirements, their enrollees would lose their right to renew their policy next year (45 CFR 147.138(g)).

This rule, not PPACA and certainly not the insurance companies themselves, made it illegal for insurers to renew such plans. This action by the Administration, which not only was not required by the Obamacare statute but is completely inconsistent with its plain text, is why millions of people are being told that they can’t renew their coverage.

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