The Obama administration's move today -- offering to ignore yet another part of Obamacare in an effort to let people keep their health care plans -- strikes me as a naked attempt to deflect blame to insurers.
The president's partisans will say, "Hey, Obama's not gonna bust any insurers for selling illegal insurance, so if you're cancelled, blame those evil insurers!"
This is silliness and should be dismissed out of hand. But there's a more nuanced argument this ploy allows President Obama to make, and Kevin Drum lays it out nicely at Mother Jones.
In short, Drum argues, insurers (and Republicans) are blaming Obamacare for plans that would have been cancelled anyway.
This is a little bit true. Insurers cancel plans every year. Not every plan cancellation this fall is due to Obamacare. Maybe this ploy is a way for Obama to highlight that.
But don't forget: The purpose of Obamacare was to outlaw many health insurance plans. The administration and its proxies constantly call these plans "junk insurance." One of Obama's reportedly favorite columnists, Josh Barro, made the case clearly in an article for Business Insider: "If You Like Your Health Plan, You Probably Shouldn't Be Able To Keep It."
Obama wanted to outlaw low-premium insurance for three reasons:
Paternalism: Some people's insurance didn't cover very much, and thus these people were vulnerable.
Redistribution: Forcing healthy people to buy more expensive insurance is a stealth way of taxing them to cover the insurance of people who need more expansive insurance.
Cronyism: Industries supporting the law wanted people to have to buy coverage for their goods and services.
So yes, not every cancellation this fall is due to Obamacare. But don't let Democrats pretend their law isn't canceling plans. For liberals, killing your health insurance was a feature of Obamacare, not a bug.