Obamacare: Six Years, Six Broken Promises


PRESIDENT OBAMA: “[T]here’s been a lot of political noise surrounding [Obamacare], so people haven't always known what’s true and what’s not.” (Pres. Obama, Remarks, 3/3/2016)



OBAMA PROMISE: “If you have health insurance and you like it, and you have a doctor that you like, then you can keep it. Period.” (President Obama, Conference Call With Liberal Bloggers, 7/20/09)

  • POLITIFACT’s 2013 Lie of the Year: 'If you like your health care plan, you can keep it' (Politifact, 12/12/13)


RHETORIC: ‘If You Like What You Have, You Can Keep It,’ ‘We Guarantee It’

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “In fact, one of our core principles is that if you like the health care you have, you can keep it.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.8642, 8/3/09)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): “Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) made the same promise… ‘Many people say: “I like my health insurance right now. I don’t want to change. I don’t want to go into Medicare or Medicaid. I like what I have. Would you please leave people alone?”’ Durbin said. ‘The answer is yes,’ he added. ‘In fact, we guarantee it. We are going to put in any legislation considered by the House and Senate the protection that you, as an individual, keep the health insurance you have, if that is what you want.’” (“Top Dems Made Same Promises,” The Hill, 10/31/13)

SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): “Again, if you like what you have, you will be able to keep it. Let me say this again: If you like what you have, when our legislation is passed and signed by the President, you will be able to keep it.” (Sen. Murray, Congressional Record, S.6400, 6/10/09)

REALITY: ‘Five Million Cancellations,’ ‘I’m Infuriated Because I Was Lied To’

2013 Flashback: “In the market for individually-purchased health insurance, more than 4.8 million Americans have received notices that their preexisting plans are soon to be illegal, and will be cancelled.” (“The Obamacare Exchange Scorecard: Around 100,000 Enrollees And Five Million Cancellations,” Forbes, 11/12/13)

KY WOMAN: “Our President lied to us. Not only are we going to lose our insurance but when go to a different policy-we have to pay more. We will never be able to retire-we are 58 & 56 years old-we will have to work the rest of our [lives] just to pay for our insurance.” (Sen. McConnell, Constituent Mail)

CA RESIDENT: “All we've been hearing the last three years is if you like your policy you can keep it… I’m infuriated because I was lied to.” (“Some Health Insurance Gets Pricier As Obamacare Rolls Out,” Los Angeles Times, 10/26/13)

NC WOMAN: “It’s been aggravating to have to see the policy that you were perfectly happy with doesn’t exist anymore and you can’t keep it.” Reporter: “For the past three years, Ruth-Anne Grimes says the health insurance plan that cost her $381 a month served her well. Then this letter…” Grimes: “It says you’ll no longer – the plan will no longer be offered in 2014.” Reporter: “Because it does not meet the qualifications of the Affordable Care Act. But there’s another plan available: for $562 a month.” … Grimes: “It’s been aggravating to have to see the policy that you were perfectly happy with doesn’t exist anymore and you can’t keep it, you have to go on another plan. … the Affordable Care Act did not make it very affordable for me.” (WRAL-NC, 11/7/13)



RHETORIC: ‘Families Will Save On Their Premiums’

THEN-SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): “I have made a solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will … cut the cost of a typical family's premiums by up to $2500 a year. That's not simply a matter of policy or ideology - it's a moral commitment.” (Sen. Obama, Remarks To United Church Of Christ Synod, 6/24/07)

REALITY: ‘Higher Premiums,’ ‘Being Pushed Out Of The Middle Class’

“Many people signing up for 2016 health policies under the Affordable Care Act face higher premiums, fewer doctors and skimpier coverage, which threatens the appeal of the program for the healthy customers it needs. Insurers have raised premiums steeply for the most popular plans at the same time they have boosted out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance in many of their offerings.” (“Rising Rates Pose Challenge to Health Law,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/19/15)

“Premiums for individual plans offered by the dominant local insurers are rising almost everywhere for 2016, typically by double-digit percentage increases, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of plan data in 34 states where the HealthCare.gov site sells insurance. More than half of the midrange ‘silver’ plans are boosting the out-of-pocket costs enrollees must pay, while more than 80% of the less-expensive ‘bronze’ plans are doing so. The Obama administration has acknowledged that premiums are going up, releasing an official analysis that, by one metric, showed the price of second-lowest-cost silver plans was rising 7.5% on average for 2016.” (“Rising Rates Pose Challenge to Health Law,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/19/15)

KENTUCKY: Breckinridge County Mom: “My family is being pushed out of the middle class by the Obamacare law. …how can we pay almost $1,200 a month on health insurance?” (Sen. McConnell, Constituent Mail)

TENNESSEE: “Eric Elmquist, 37, of Franklin, Tenn., felt he was paying too much in 2014 for his Blue Cross Blue Shield plan at $878 a month for two adults and three children, with an annual deductible of $5,000. A year later, he had a plan with a premium of $1,089 and deductible of $7,000. Now, he is eyeing a premium of more than $1,416 to keep that plan.” (“Rising Rates Pose Challenge To Health Law,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/19/2015)

UTAH: ‘It’s obscene’ “Ana and Oswaldo Demoura got their letter last month: a notice from their health care provider that thousands will soon receive in the mail. ‘I thought that was a mistake. I think it’s obscene,’ said Oswaldo Demoura. Addressed to Mrs. Demoura, it outlines a new coverage plan from Arches Mutual Insurance, putting their monthly premium, with tax credits, at $416.59. The problem with that is they are currently paying $126.22. That means their insurance is going up about 300 percent. … ‘Nobody can afford that, absolutely,’ Oswaldo Demoura said.” (“Health Insurance Premiums Increase In Utah,” KTSU TV, 10/22/15)



RHETORIC: ‘I Will Protect Medicare,’ ‘If You Like Your Doctor, You Will Be Able To Keep Your Doctor, Period’

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “So don't pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut … that will not happen on my watch. I will protect Medicare.” (President Obama, Remarks To Joint Session Of Congress, 9/9/09)

  • OBAMA: “…we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period.” (President Obama, 6/15/09)


REALITY: ‘$716 Billion’ In Medicare Cuts, ‘Jeopardizing Access To Care’

SENIORS: ‘It Hurts,’ ‘I Couldn't Believe It’

CBO: “As you requested, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have estimated the direct spending and revenue effects of H.R. 6079, the Repeal of Obamacare Act, as passed by the House of Representatives on July 11, 2012. … Many of the other provisions that would be repealed by enacting H.R. 6079 affect spending for Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs. … an estimated $716 billion over that 2013–2022 period.” (Douglas Elmendorf, CBO Director, Letter To Speaker Boehner, P.1 & 13, 7/24/12)

CMS ACTUARY: “Providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and … might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries).” (“Estimated Financial Effects Of The ‘Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act,’ As Amended,” Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services, P.9-10, 4/22/10)

NY SENIOR: ‘Obama had said I could keep my doctor. Now they’re doing away with my doctor. They kicked him out! After 20 years, that’s not right.’ “ObamaCare is making seniors sick. Elderly New Yorkers are in a panic after getting notices that insurance companies are booting their doctors from the Medicare Advantage program as a result of the shifting medical landscape under ObamaCare… [Dr. Jonathan] Leibowitz’s patients are furious. Alfred Gargiulio, who has cerebral palsy with a seizure disorder, has been seeing Leibowitz since 1993. ‘Obama had said I could keep my doctor. Now they’re doing away with my doctor. They kicked him out! After 20 years, that’s not right. We love Dr. Leibowitz,’ said Gargiulio.” (“Elderly Patients Sick Over Losing Doctors Under Obamacare,” New York Post, 10/25/13)

FL SENIOR: “The AARP managed care network [George Smith] had relied on for years will drop all eight of his and his wife's doctors as of Jan. 1. ‘I couldn't believe it. I have my house and car and everything insured through AARP,’ said Smith, 73. ‘I thought, “They are not going to drop me. I've been a member for years.”’ … Patients have received letters telling them to seek new physicians if they want to stay on the plan. Doctors … have learned that AARP plans will stop paying for their services next year.” (“Patients Scramble After AARP Medicare Advantage Plans Drop Providers,” Tampa Bay Times, 10/21/13)

NY SENIOR: “It hurts, it hurts inside and it’s a terrible feeling to think that you can’t get what you want” “Doctors are getting bumped off plans and their patients are getting worried, Brennan reported. ‘I just can’t believe it because this is the man you rely on,’ heart patient Leonard Goldberg, 82, said. ‘It hurts, it hurts inside and it’s a terrible feeling to think that you can’t get what you want,’ Tony Molesphini, 83, said. ‘Nobody wants to die, me above all people,’ 79-year-old Jim Heffernan said. The three men with heart trouble say their biggest problem is losing the doctor they’ve had for decades, and they fear for their future. … They claim that they that this is a way of cutting costs which they have to do because they are getting a reduction in their reimbursement for the Medicare Advantage plans due to the Affordable Care Act,” [Dr. David Hess] told Brennan.”  (“Doctors Dropped By Insurers As Affordable Care Act Rollout Continues,” CBS New York, 11/1/13)



RHETORIC: Individual Mandate Tax, ‘Absolutely Not A Tax Increase’

STEPHANOPOULOS: “Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t. How is that not a tax?” … PRESIDENT OBAMA:  “No. That's not true, George. The — for us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.  What it's saying is, is that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase.” (“Obama: Mandate Is Not A Tax,” ABC News, 9/20/09)

  • STEPHANOPOULOS: “But you reject that it’s a tax increase?” PRESIDENT OBAMA: “I absolutely reject that notion.” (“Obama: Mandate Is Not A Tax,” ABC News, 9/20/09)


SUPREME COURT: “…the shared responsibility payment may… be read as imposing a tax on those who go without insurance.” (Supreme Court Of The United States Syllabus, National Federation Of Independent Business Et Al. V. Sebelius, Secretary Of Health And Human Services, Et Al., 6/28/12)

‘I Cannot Afford An Additional Bill’

THEN-SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): “…a mandate does not work unless you impose harsh, stiff penalties on those who don't purchase it.” (CNN’s “Newsroom,” 2/23/08)

2016: “The math is harsh: The federal penalty for having no health insurance is set to jump to $695, and the Obama administration is being urged to highlight that cold fact… in 2016, the penalty for being uninsured will rise to the greater of either — $695 or 2.5 percent of taxable income — for someone who goes without coverage for a full 12 months.” (“Bigger Bite For Health Law Penalty On Uninsured,” AP, 10/19/15)

CA MAN: ‘I cannot afford an additional bill’ “‘There's only so far one can dwindle a ramen-noodle diet,’ said Christopher Rael of Los Angeles... ‘I cannot afford an additional bill,’ he said. He paid a fine of about $150 for being uninsured in 2014.” (“Health Care Fines Press Millennials as Deadline Nears,” The Associated Press, 1/27/2016)



RHETORIC: Healthcare.Gov Will Work ‘The Same Way You Shop … On Amazon’

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Starting on Tuesday, every American can visit HealthCare.gov to find out what’s called the insurance marketplace for your state. . . Now, this is real simple.  It’s a website where you can compare and purchase affordable health insurance plans, side-by-side, the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak . . . same way you shop for a TV on Amazon. . . And so if you’ve ever tried to buy insurance on your own, I promise you this is a lot easier.  It's like booking a hotel or a plane ticket.” (Pres. Obama, “Remarks By The President On The Affordable Care Act,” 9/26/2013)

REALITY: ‘Excruciatingly Embarrassing,’ ‘Bungled Badly’

ROBERT GIBBS, Former White House Press Secretary: “Let's just say this is excruciatingly embarrassing for the White House and for the Department of Health and Human Services. This was bungled badly. ...I hope they fire some people that were in charge of making sure this thing was supposed to work.” (MSNBC, 10/14/13)

“Long waits to apply for coverage. Weird error messages. Balky menus. Some state health insurance markets couldn’t even launch right away. Obamacare problems revealed themselves right away on the first day.” (“Glitches And Recoveries: State Exchanges Run The Gamut,” Politico, 10/2/13)

“Early stumbles on the hobbled Obamacare website — password glitches, incomplete testing and fractured development — underscore considerable safety risks and hint at deeper vulnerabilities, data security experts warn.” (“Security Experts Fear ACA Vulnerabilities,” Politico, 11/5/13)

“The flood of computer problems since the website went online has been deeply embarrassing for the White House. The snags have called into question whether the administration is capable of implementing the complex policy and why senior administration officials — including the president — appear to have been unaware of the scope of the problems when the exchange sites opened.” (“Builders Of Obama's Health Website Saw Red Flags,” AP, 10/22/13)

  • “…insider interviews and a review of technical specifications by The Associated Press found a mind-numbingly complex system put together by harried programmers who pushed out a final product that congressional investigators said was tested by the government and not private developers with more expertise.” (“Builders Of Obama's Health Website Saw Red Flags,” AP, 10/22/13)



RHETORIC: ‘The Implementation Of This Is Fabulous’

PRESIDENT OBAMA: ‘This is working the way it's supposed to.’ “Now, a lot of the opponents of the Affordable Care Act, they had all kinds of sky-is-falling, doom-and-gloom predictions… I think it's important for us to recognize and acknowledge this is working the way it's supposed to.” (President Obama, Statement, 6/7/13)

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “Obamacare has been wonderful for America.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 7/14/13)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): “The implementation of this is fabulous.” (“Dems To Kathleen Sebelius: Seniors Confused On Obamacare,” Politico, 6/27/13)

REALITY: Lax Oversight, Potential Fraud, ‘Cancer Patients Snagged In Health Law's Tangled Paperwork’

“While the Government Accountability Office stopped short of alleging widespread cheating in President Barack Obama's signature program, investigators found that the administration has struggled to resolve eligibility questions affecting millions of initial applications and hundreds of thousands of consumers who were actually approved for benefits. The agency administering the health law — the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services — ‘has assumed a passive approach to identifying and preventing fraud,’ the GAO report said. . .  The GAO report raised numerous questions about the government's system for verifying eligibility for [the] benefits [provided in the health care law].” (“Probe: Healthcare.Gov 'Passive' On Heading Off Fraud,” The Associated Press, 2/24/2016)

  • “The investigators' analysis determined that 431,000 applications from 2014 still had unresolved paperwork issues in April of 2015, months after the coverage year had ended. Those applications involved $1.7 billion in taxpayer subsidies. In addition, there were 35,000 applications with unresolved questions involving matching Social Security numbers, which represented $154 million in subsidies for insurance premiums. Finally, there were about 22,000 applications where it wasn't clear if the beneficiary was serving a prison sentence. Those accounted for $68 million in subsidies. (Prisoners are not eligible for coverage under the health care law.)” (“Probe: Healthcare.Gov 'Passive' On Heading Off Fraud,” The Associated Press, 2/24/2016)

“[C]overage disruptions due to complex paperwork requirements seem commonplace in the health law's system of subsidized private insurance . . . The government says about 470,000 people had coverage terminated through Sept. 30 last year because of unresolved documentation issues involving citizenship and immigration. During the same time, more than 1 million households had their financial assistance ‘adjusted’ because of income discrepancies. Advocates say ‘adjusted’ usually means the subsidies get eliminated.” (“Cancer Patients Snagged In Health Law's Tangled Paperwork,” The Associated Press, 2/15/2016)

  • “Walt Whitlow was under treatment for cancer when he got an unwelcome surprise. His financial assistance under President Barack Obama's health care law got slashed. That meant his premium quadrupled and his deductible went from $900 to $4,600. . . Whitlow, a self-employed remodeling contractor from Volente, Texas, said he was blindsided. He had requested that HealthCare.gov contact him by mail, but he found out his subsidy was slashed when his doctor's office called the family. Not only was he on the hook for the full, unsubsidized premium, but he also faced far higher copays and deductibles. ‘It kind of blew my mind,’ said Whitlow. He said he had submitted bank statements to prove his income, but apparently that wasn't enough. … ‘the paperwork was just unbelievable,’ said Whitlow.” (“Cancer Patients Snagged In Health Law's Tangled Paperwork,” The Associated Press, 2/15/2016)



Related Issues: Health Care, Obamacare, Middle Class, Senate Democrats