En route to Massachusetts, White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked by reporters about the four-Pinocchio rating given to President Obama’s pledge that “no one will take away” your health plan — as reviewed by the Washington Post’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler in a post that went live at 6 a.m. this morning.
It would have helped if the White House had read it on the administration’s way to rebut arguments of the sort while touting the successes of Romneycare. Earnest’s response:
Well, I didn’t actually see what Mr. Kessler’s case was. But I think it was on this question of the President’s comments about people being able to keep their health insurance.
I don’t have a specific reaction to the article. But let me reiterate a little bit about what Jay said, because it’s important for people to understand exactly what’s at work here. And I know many people will get their information by reading the transcript of the gaggle, so bear with me as I repeat some of what Jay said at least.
The important thing for people to understand is that 80 percent of Americans obtain their health insurance through their employer, through Medicaid, through Medicare, through the Veterans Administration, and are not subject to receiving letters like the ones that have gotten so much attention in the last couple of weeks. There are another 15 percent of Americans who don’t currently have health insurance, so they obviously aren’t getting letters from their insurance company because they don’t have an insurance company right now. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they do have access for the first time on the individual market to quality, affordable health insurance.
So what we’re talking about here is the 5 percent of Americans who could possibly get a letter like this from their insurance company. And the fact of the matter is that if you have an insurance policy that you purchased on the individual market, that you have had since the day that the Affordable Care Act was signed, you can keep it. That is a fact. That fact remains true.
Now, the question is what happens to those people who, since the Affordable Care Act was signed, have received letters from their insurance company informing them that their benefits have been cut, or that their premiums have been increased. That is a phenomenon that is all too familiar to people who have relied on the individual insurance market to get their insurance coverage. Those kinds of downgrades to their insurance policy that people on an individual insurance market are experiencing is exactly the kind of problem that the Affordable Care Act can solve. The fact of the matter is, part of the protections that are in put in place are put in place to ensure — or to protect the underinsured. So what that means is that now, because those policies have been changed by the insurance companies, the insurance companies are now required by the Affordable Care Act to offer basic protections to their customers. That means they are required to protect their customers from being discriminated against because they have a preexisting condition. They are required to cover mental health care. They are required to cover maternity care. They are required to not charge women double for their insurance costs just because they’re women.
So if Republicans think that that’s a bad idea, they should say so. They should explain to women all across the country why it’s okay for insurance companies to charge them double just because they’re women. That’s a difficult position for Republicans to take, but I’ll be interested to see if they make that argument. And the fact of the matter is, because of these protections — these protections are an important part of the reason why this administration is working day and night to make sure that we successfully implement the Affordable Care Act.