With President Obama’s approval rating sinking below 40 percent, it has become clear that a majority of Americans have concluded that he did indeed lie about his signature health care legislation allowing individuals to “keep their insurance plans” if they desired.
While the president deserves much of the scorn being heaped upon him for having misled the public about Obamacare, another group within Washington equally deserves to be held accountable for the millions of Americans currently losing their existing health care coverage; namely, Senate Democrats.
Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana recently took to the floor of the Senate to proclaim her anger and concern over Obamacare causing so many Americans to lose their existing coverage. Her incredulity may have been more believable had she not been part of the reason it happened in the first place.
“The promise was made, and it should be kept,” Ms. Landrieu stated. “And it was our understanding when we voted for that, that people when they have insurance, could keep what they had.”
Expressing similar concerns, Sen. Kay R. Hagan of North Carolina stated, “Obviously, it’s not going the way it should, and I’m disappointed, and I’m frustrated, and it’s totally unacceptable because the American people deserve better, and the way I look at it, North Carolinians deserve better.”
Her colleague, Sen. Mark L. Pryor of Arkansas also expressed frustration over Obamacare’s disjointed rollout. His recent tone, however, is a stark departure from the panegyric press release he issued upon Senate passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009.
“Elements of this package will drive down costs for families, small businesses, and government; protect and expand an individual’s choice of doctors and insurance plans without any government interference; and assure affordable, reliable health care for every Arkansan,” Mr. Pryor stated nearly four years ago.
The anxiety caused by millions of Americans losing their health care coverage in the wake of Obamacare has caused many of its previous supporters to run for cover.
Senate Democrats, many of whom find themselves mired in fierce re-election campaigns in 2014, took their anxieties over Obamacare directly to the White House when they met with President Obama last Wednesday.
One of those in attendance, Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, immediately issued a press release upon conclusion of the meeting. In it, Mr. Begich said, “It’s absolutely unacceptable in this day and age that the administration can’t deliver on the promises it made to all Americans because of technical problems with a website.”
Unfortunately for Senate Democrats now enraged over the fallout from Obamacare, they are the very people that systematically voted against assurances designed to prevent millions of Americans from losing their coverage in the first place.
In 2010, Senate Democrats voted unanimously to shut down a Republican resolution that would have blocked Obamacare’s so-called “grandfather” clause. Republicans correctly argued at the time that the grandfather clause would actually cause millions of Americans to lose their existing health insurance coverage.
As Avik Roy of Forbes recently noted, buried in Section 1251 of the Affordable Care Act, the grandfather clause was ostensibly meant to ensure that Americans who obtained coverage prior to the law being signed on March 23, 2010, could keep their existing plans, just like the president repeatedly promised.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s subsequent interpretation of regulations surrounding the grandfather clause were so constrained that millions of Americans losing their preferred coverage became a fait accompli.
Even the Obama administration itself conceded such when it wrote in the June 2010 issue of the Federal Register that “a reasonable range for the percentage of individual policies that would terminate, and therefore relinquish their grandfather status, is 40 percent to 67 percent.”
When Republican Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming offered Senate Joint Resolution 39 to ensure that no Obamacare regulation would be interpreted to deny people access to their existing health care policies, Democrats voted it down. Unanimously.
On a motion to proceed, the resolution was defeated on a 59-40 vote. Every single Senate Democrat voted the resolution down, and in so doing, virtually ensured that the health care choices of millions of Americans would be fall under the highly restrictive mandates of Obamacare.
They may be trying to disavow Obamacare today, but Senate Democrats are as complicit for the fallout of the health care debacle as the president himself.
It’s time to hold Senate Democrats accountable. No amount of feigned incredulity today should absolve elected officials of poor decisions made yesterday.
Scott G. Erickson is a writer, policy analyst and law enforcement officer.