“Sorry” Seems to Be the Hardest Word

This latest Obamacare update features a semi-apology from the president of the United States:

President Obama said Thursday that he is “sorry” that some Americans are losing their current health insurance plans as a result of the Affordable Care Act, despite his promise that no one would have to give up a health plan they liked.

“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” he told NBC News in an exclusive interview at the White House.

“We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

[. . .]

“Obviously we didn’t do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law,” Obama said in the interview Thursday. “And, you know, that’s something I regret. That’s something we’re gonna do everything we can to get fixed … We’re looking at a range of options.”

I call it a “semi-apology” because the president only apologized after he tried everything he could possibly think of trying in order to distract from the fact that he broke his promise to the American people. One such attempt to distract, of course, was the attempt to blame insurance companies for lost plans. Glenn Kessler gives this bit of spin three Pinocchios. He likely was too kind:

Blaming the insurance companies can only go so far. First of all, the administration wrote the rules that set the conditions under which plans lose their grandfathered status. But more important, the law has an effective date so far in the past that it virtually guaranteed that the vast majority of people currently in the individual market would end up with a notice saying they needed to buy insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.

The administration’s effort to pin the blame on insurance companies is a classic case of misdirection. Between 75 and 95 percent of the problem stems from the effective date, but the White House chooses to keep the focus elsewhere.

As Ron Fournier notes, the Obama administration’s disastrous management of the implementation of health care reform will likely have political consequences if the mess is not cleaned up and cleaned up quickly. The administration, its congressional allies, and all those who support Obamacare deserve the political pain for the way in which the law has thus far wreaked havoc upon the lives of millions of Americans.

Meanwhile, Kathleen Sebelius–who still has a job!–has informed us that there will be no delays in the implementation of Obamacare–this despite the fact that there have been parts of Obamacare that have been delayed in order to ensure that the administration does not suffer politically and in order to limit the likelihood of massive Democratic losses in next year’s midterm elections (see, e.g., the delay in implementing the employer mandate). In the same story, we see this:

. . . the Obama administration disclosed that the chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would retire. His office supervised the creation of the troubled website.

The official, Tony Trenkle, will step down on Nov. 15 “to take a position in the private sector,” according to an email circulated among agency employees. He has supervised the spending of $2 billion a year on information technology products and services, including the development of the website.

Mr. Trenkle, reached by telephone on Wednesday, declined to discuss his plans. “I can’t speak with you,” he said.

His retirement is part of a management shake-up announced by Michelle Snyder, the chief operating officer of the Medicare agency, who was herself deeply involved in major decisions about the insurance marketplace.

Even as Ms. Sebelius testified about progress in repairing the website, HealthCare.gov, agency officials were reporting new problems on Wednesday.

“The site is performing slowly,” said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Some users have difficulty logging in and receive error messages.”

This is what passes for accountability these days. I guess that if you want some breaks from this administration when it comes to Obamacare, you have to be part of an approved political class.

That political class, mind you, does not include Obama supporters who do not wield political power. I do feel badly for Lee Hammack and JoEllen Brothers; they put their faith in the president, in his campaigns, in his administration and in his policy agenda, and they are being rewarded for their loyalty by having their health care plan, “a plan that offers solid coverage, not one of the skimpy plans Obama has criticized,” canceled because the plan still does not meet Obamacare requirements. The couple now needs to find a new plan, and “[t]he cost would be around double what they pay now, but the benefits would be worse.” Charles Ornstein, who wrote the piece covering Hammack’s and Brothers’s woes, fact-checked their story and found that it holds water. Despite the fact that Ornstein had “been skeptical about media stories featuring those who claimed they would be worse off because their insurance policies were being canceled on account of the ACA,” is now forced to conclude that without some kind of fix for the law, people like Hammack and Brothers are in trouble. They are going to have to pay a lot more for their health insurance, and they are going to get a lot less coverage in return.

I wonder if the president will apologize personally to Hammack and Brothers anytime soon.

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