- - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama is reluctantly delivering on his campaign promise to show a little transparency in his administration. The Hill, a Capitol Hill political daily, reported Tuesday that the White House is about to announce still another postponement in implementing Obamacare.

The latest directive would allow insurers to continue offering, through at least the end of 2015, health insurance plans that don’t meet the minimum coverage requirements dictated by Health and Human Services.

For once, the president isn’t trying to hide the politics. By enabling consumers to keep plans they like — the policies the administration has characterized as “substandard” and offered by “bad-apple insurers” — the deal would avert another wave of policy cancellations from arriving in mailboxes just weeks before the 2014 midterm congressional elections.

Late last year, amid the disastrous rollout of Healthcare.gov, millions of policies on the individual market were canceled, requiring individuals to scramble to replace the coverage they like.

The president leaned on the states and the insurance companies to enable customers to keep their current policies for a year, through 2014, thinking that would give Democrats breathing room to get through the midterm elections.

He left out one crucial detail. Policy-cancellation notices are mailed 90 days before the end of the year, which means they would arrive in early October, when voters start deciding which way to vote.

Congressional Democrats, many of whom cheerfully echoed the president’s famous lie, “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” pleaded with the White House to do something.

Widespread public discontent over health care, according to the polls, suggests 2014 could prove to be another “shellacking” like 2010, when Democrats lost 63 seats in the House and six in the Senate.

“I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September,” one insurance industry consultant told The Hill. “Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House.”

That could be the reason why Sen. Harry Reid, desperate to hold his position as majority leader, took the Senate floor last week to decry what he called Obamacare “horror stories” as “untrue.”

“We heard about the evils of Obamacare, about the lives it’s ruining in Republican stump speeches and in ads paid for by oil magnates,” the Nevada Democrat said, dismissing as fabrications the story of a leukemia patient whose insurance policy was canceled, and stories of policyholders whose premiums went up hundreds of dollars a month.

“But those tales turned out to be just that — tales, stories made up from whole cloth,” Mr. Reid said, “lies distorted by the Republicans to grab headlines or make political advertisements.”

If the stories aren’t true, why are Democrats frightened now into delaying Obamacare? Last October, Republicans offered to pass legislation delaying the health care takeover, but Mr. Obama shut down the government to ensure that nothing could slow his signature legislative achievement, not even for a minute.

Seeing jobs lost, insurance coverage dropped, and premiums, deductibles and co-pays flying through the roof, has created unprecedented transparency among Democrats. Some call it panic. Members see their lives flashing before their very eyes.

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