From Obama, No Assurance on Insurance
People say there is safety in numbers -- but they couldn't have meant the ObamaCare enrollment count. Yesterday, the President's reputation took another tumble when the administration finally pulled back the curtain on the law's miserable debut and admitted how few Americans had signed up for the law's coverage. Let's put it this way, said Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.): more people had lunch at Sonic in Oklahoma City Wednesday than have signed up for ObamaCare in a month and a half.
Nationwide, a tiny sliver (26,794) managed to steer through the online disaster zone long enough to join the federal plan, and another 79,000 applied through their state exchanges. Of the total 106,000, not all have paid -- or even indicated that they plan to. If the enrollment continued at this pace, experts joked that it would take 800 years to meet the White House's goal.
Meanwhile, most Americans are less concerned about who's enrolled in the President's plan than the future of their own. For every new ObamaCare enrollee, 47 more Americans have lost their insurance. Those five million unhappy customers probably weighed heavily into the new Fox poll, which found that distrust of the administration is reaching new heights. Half of voters now believe President Obama "knowingly lied" about his promise that Americans could keep their plans, and at the very least 55% think the White House "tried to deceive" people about the possibility of being dropped from their insurance plan.
The President tried to stop the bleeding this morning by giving insurance companies another year of offering customers the plans that would otherwise be canceled. Of course, no one knows how the changes will affect the millions of customers who've already lost their plans. And while the administration is ignoring the law to give the extension, the reality is that not every insurance company can (or will choose to) take it -- especially if the industry would have to turn around and pull the plug on those same plans next year. Regardless, it's only a short reprieve (which just so happens to expire after the mid-term elections).
Responding to a question today, the President drew an analogy between choosing to keep your health care plan and choosing to keep your used car instead of buy a new one with all the safety features. "It's almost like we said to folks: you've got to buy a new car, even if you can't afford it right now. And sooner or later folks are going to start trading in their old cars...if their life circumstance is such where, for now at least, they want to keep the old car, even if the new car is better, we should be able to give them that option, and that's what we want to do."
The problem is everyone will eventually have to trade in their "used" car, and the only option will be a more expensive Pinto that's at risk of falling apart. As American Enterprise Institute (AEI) explains, "Many Americans have had policies that the President calls 'substandard cancelled;' they're being pushed into the ObamaCare exchanges -- where they'll find they're worse off."
Once the administration overcomes the deficiencies of the website, AEI and others warn that the real shocks are yet to come. "Contrary to the President's assertions, many of the current enrollees in individual market plans will not be impressed by the premiums, cost-sharing requirements, and provider networks of the exchange plans. If and when the website becomes more operational, the administration will face another political firestorm from the rate shock that is built into ObamaCare's cost structure."
Making matters worse, part of that cost, as groups like FRC have argued, is a built-in abortion subsidy that policyholders may not even know they're paying! While the nation is just now waking up to the President's duplicity, pro-lifers have been painfully aware of the administration's betrayals -- which date all the way back to 2009, when the White House insisted a flimsy executive order could stop the biggest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortion in U.S. history. The President hasn't honored his promises -- but more importantly, he refuses to honor the law.
"It is an outrage," Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) fumed, "that members of Congress had to write to OPM just to learn whether abortion is included in the currently available multi-state plans, which are just a small subset of plans... It is up to President Obama to direct HHS to inform consumers about abortion coverage in ObamaCare plans... His law already breaks with the decades old Hyde Amendment by allowing federal subsidies for plans that include abortion. Now he won't even give consumers the ability to make an informed choice."
Under the Republicans' alternative, real choice is priority number one. Unlike with ObamaCare, conservatives believe that the best solutions come from the private sector, are market-based, and operate most efficiently when they come -- not from Washington-- but states and local communities. These principles are embodied in the new, comprehensive American Health Care Reform Act (H.R. 3121), developed by the House Republican Study Committee and introduced by U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), himself a long-time OB/GYN. The Congressman presented this important measure (which already has 102 cosponsors!) yesterday at FRC.
Its first provision is the repeal of the President's disastrous health care takeover. The RSC plan also envisions tax deductions so that people can buy the insurance best suited to them (including a standard deduction of $7,500 for individuals or $20,000 for families), expanded access to health savings accounts, market competition to improve quality and contain costs, reforming medical liability laws, and states specifically that "nothing in this act requires health plans to provide coverage of abortion services, or permits any government official to require coverage of abortion." I applaud Dr. Roe and his colleagues for creating a sound alternative to ObamaCare -- one that would actually reform care, not destroy it.
House Has Military's Best Interests at Hartzler
If Congress is consistent about anything, it's passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Despite hundreds of amendments and debates that last well into the night, members have managed an impressive feat: passing the bill for 51 straight years. Both parties hope the streak continues this year, as the Senate kicks off debate on a proposal that could not be more important to the future of our Armed Forces.
While funding is at the heart of the debate, freedom won't be far behind. With religious persecution becoming more the rule than the exception, members of both parties are enlisting in the fight to defend our service members' rights. Just a few days after Veterans' Day, the Republican Study Committee, led by Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), will be holding what's called a "special order" on the House floor for leaders to speak on the importance of religious liberty in the military. And not a moment too soon, based on FRC's new video and report, "A Clear and Present Danger," showing the rising trend of faith-based harassment and intimidation in the ranks. To see what Rep. Hartzler and others are concerned about, click over to FRC's coalition site, MilitaryFreedom.org.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.