New Op-Ed: The Thanksgiving message President Obama should have given about the Affordable Care Act in 2009

November 28th, 2013

Part-satire, part-serious, this op-ed offers a speech the President should have given in November 2009, right before the bill passed the Senate, to offer full disclosure of what the Affordable Care Act would do.

Here is a sample:

Second, throughout the past several months, I have repeated over, and over, and over again, “If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.” This is true. But, I now realize that my message was not as clear as it could have been.

Look at it this way. Our healthcare system is broken. There are over 40 million people without insurance. At the same time, it is not fair for some people to have very generous plans that are subsidized by employers. Further, it is also not fair for young and healthy people to have cheap, bare-bones plans that do not contribute to the insurance pools. What we need is a way to equalize things.

So, under the Affordable Care Act, generous health insurance benefits, so-called “Cadillac plans,” will be heavily taxed to create incentives for your employer to drop them, so you will be forced to buy normalized insurance on the health care markets. Bare-bones plans that only cover catastrophic needs will not be compliant with the ACA. If you have one of these, particularly if you are on the individual market, it will be cancelled. Plus lots of other modest plans will also be cancelled. (We estimate this will affect at least ten million Americans.) If you do not have insurance, and you can afford to buy it, we will penalize you if you decide to go uninsured. We cannot maintain the “status quo” of the broken healthcare system.

This is a large part of how the ACA will fix this national problem. We need you, especially young and healthy people, to purchase more comprehensive, and more expensive plans, so you can subsidize the risk pools, and make health insurance more available for our fellow Americans who need it the most.

In order for the forty million uninsured Americans to gain insurance, the rest of us must sacrifice a bit of what we have. So yes, tens of million of plans will be cancelled. Employers will drop coverage, and force people onto the exchanges. While this may be a massive inconvenience for some Americans, our moral obligation to those less fortunate compels us to take this action and move forward. We promise it will be easy and affordable to buy new, more comprehensive coverage. And if our plan works, it “will finally reduce the costs of health care.” When “you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

It is pivotal that the American people and their representatives understand this critical social compromise before the law is voted on. We should tell the American people where we are headed. A frank discussion on these issues is essential to an informed debate on healthcare reform. We all have to be in this together for it to work.

This law was sold on many false promises, that the Administration knew was false.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone.

Update: I’m right below the Ann Coulter splash on the Opinion homepage.



Update: Thanks for the link from Volokh, Randy.