Diary

What President Obama really meant by "if you like your plan, you can keep it"

James C. Capretta, in the Corner, tags President Obama hard for his redefinition of his often-repeated promise “if you like your plan, you can keep it.”

What he meant, he now says, is that the government wouldn’t force people out of their health-care plan. If tens of millions of people get pushed out of their current coverage, it would be because firms chose to drop their insurance plans — never mind the fact that they would do so based on the financial incentives the government put in place.

The president’s “clarification” seems highly unlikely to be the final word on this. For starters, it doesn’t matter much to the voting public who pulls the trigger. They don’t want today’s stable, job-based coverage turned upside by “reform.” When they hear that tens of millions of people will get moved out of employer plans and into the “government option,” they will wonder if they themselves will have to switch insurance — and most don’t want to. The president’s comments today aren’t likely to put their fears to rest.

This is the equivalent of Plutonium 244 in the health care reform tea.

If the 180 million people with health insurance believe that they will be pushed into to a government health care plan — by their employers or by the conditions the government plan creates in the market — it is the death kneel for the Public/government option.