Struggling to explain the details of his own healthcare plan to voters at Thursday night’s debate, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden managed to revive President Obama’s most infamous lie.
Obama told many lies in his effort to sell his national healthcare plan, but his most well known was his bold declaration that “if you like your healthcare plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” Of course, millions of people did, in fact, end up losing healthcare plans that they liked as the country transitioned to Obamacare. His lie was so bad that the usually liberal Politifact declared it the “lie of the year” in 2013.
But Biden is going down the same path.
Under fire from President Trump for his plans to unravel private health insurance, Biden fought back bitterly.
“Not one single person with private insurance will lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under Obamacare,” Biden declared.
The first part of the statement will be proven false if Biden ever has the chance to pass his healthcare plan, and the second part of the statement has already been proven false.
On the second part, it’s worth noting that even Obama was forced to admit that people were losing health plans and had to apologize as it became one of the low points of his presidency. It was also a key factor in Republicans taking over the Senate in 2014.
But on the first part, it’s completely reckless to declare “not a single person” would lose private insurance under his plan.
To be sure, Biden is right that his plan does not go as far as the one advocated by Sen. Bernie Sanders and endorsed by his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, which would have explicitly outlawed all existing private insurance plans.
Instead, Biden wants to create a so-called public option, which is a government-run plan that would be offered alongside private insurance on Obamacare’s exchanges.
The long-standing goal of proponents of the public option has been to transition to a fully run government health insurance system over time. The hope has always been that under a strong public option, the government could use its bargaining power to hammer doctors and hospitals, allowing them to woo enrollees by the promise of lower costs and thus squeeze out private health insurance carriers. The idea of a public option is so disruptive that it was shelved during the initial push to pass Obamacare.
For the second straight debate, Biden tried to downplay the idea of a public option by claiming it would be primarily for individuals eligible for Medicaid under Obamacare but unable to get it because of the state they live in. But his actual healthcare plan as published on his website reads, “Whether you’re covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether, Biden will give you the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare.”
Opening up Obamacare to those with job-based insurance would be a significant expansion. Under the current law, individuals who are offered insurance through their employers cannot qualify for any Obamacare subsidies. But if Biden plans to make it easier for employees to buy into the government-run plan, it could be a game changer because many employers may decide not to bother offering insurance anymore — thus unraveling people’s job-based healthcare.
Unfortunately, Trump’s lack of command of the facts made it difficult for him to pin down Biden on this point, and we don’t expect the sycophantic media to ask him any tough questions on the matter in the closing days of the election.
As a result, the lie is going to haunt him if he gets elected, just as it haunted his old boss.