Remember Nancy Pelosi’s Let Them Eat Cake moment on healthcare reform? The one where she dismissed as ridiculous the idea that the public should know what was in the bill before it was passed into law?
To a befuddled audience seeking a little more information on what this Moby Dick of a bill contained, she said:
Look, this bill is filled with wildly liberal, borderline hallucinogenic power-tripping government intrusions into your personal privacy. It sucks the last life breath from our crumbling economy and mugs you of your ability to control your own healthcare decisions. Frankly you can’t handle what’s inside this legislative ogre. So we’ll just have to pass the bill first so that you can find out what’s in it later--and then let the wreckage sort itself out.
I admit I may have loosely paraphrased her exact statement ("We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it"). Well, the wreckage is beginning to sort.
Of course, the first to deal with the broken glass were the same Democrats who pushed so hard to pass the bill--yes, those who are now fleeing it on the campaign trail faster than they are fleeing Obama himself. One imagines Mad Magazine-styled campaign signs popping up all over the country: Healthcare reform? What healthcare reform?
It’s one thing for the politicians who created this monstrosity to react with fear and trembling now that they must face the electorate, an electorate that made crystal clear it did not want this bill crammed down its throat. It’s another thing when the public starts to realize that the bill was even worse than feared.
Remember how President Obama said nobody--nobody--would lose their current healthcare plan? During full campaign mode to pass Obamacare, he asserted:
First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.
The president may be surprised (or probably not) to know that businesses spanning the spectrum of small to large are facing the likelihood of having to either change healthcare plans for their employees--or drop them altogether.
The controversy over McDonald’s possibly dropping its insurance coverage for employees is stealing all the headlines this week, but it was just last week that a fight to save healthcare plans for small businesses was fought--and lost.
A coalition led by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, representing a broad swath of small businesses in practically every sector of the economy, issued a letter to Congress begging for reform of healthcare reform.
Before the bill passed, the White House had sold the idea that small businesses with healthcare plans could be “grandfathered”--meaning that they would not be forced to change the healthcare plans they offered employees. Now that the bill has become law, the White House has subsequently issued a new rule essentially saying, “Come on, don’t be a chump. We were just kidding!”
Where Congress feared to tread--defining how a company would qualify for grandfathered status--the administration has boldly gone where no bureaucrat has gone before. It has issued a series of criteria so stringent as to make it nearly impossible for small businesses to maintain their grandfathered status, and, therefore, the healthcare plans of their employees.
The rule makes a mockery of congressional intent to protect small business employees from being forced on to new healthcare plans. A scrappy but doomed effort by Republican Sen. Mike Enzi to overturn the rule went down with a whimper last week.
I think I speak for everybody when I say we’re all for mocking Congress, but this White House sold its reform bill on the promise that nobody--nobody--would have to change healthcare plans. Yet by the government’s own analysis, nearly 80 percent of small businesses will lose their grandfathered status within three years.
Expect a lot of change.
Facing the embarrassing prospect of being degrandfathered in public, these businesses can either pay for the rising costs of healthcare out of their own pockets or face the full-on fury of Obamacare’s expensive mandates. Either way, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs to pay for all of this--right in the middle of this season of nearly 10 percent unemployment.
There is a third option of course. Many small businesses will simply abandon their efforts to provide healthcare plans at all.
So much for nobody--nobody--losing their healthcare plans.
- Check out our editorial cartoons on healthcare reform.
- See who gets the most from health professionals.
- See a slide show of 10 things that are (and aren't) in the healthcare bill.