A Clinton-Cheney alignment isn’t as surprising as it might seem. Both men entered elected office in the 1970s — Clinton in 1977 as Arkansas attorney general and Cheney in 1979 as U.S. congressman representing Wyoming.
Clinton, a Democrat, infuriates Republicans. Cheney, a Republican, infuriates Democrats.
Both men are savvy politicians, instinctively capable of reading their constituents and delivering what they want.
This last point is undoubtedly driving both to suggest the president make good on a promise that at this point has fallen apart as the millions of Americans who received health insurance cancellation notices. By the political calculus measured in days and weeks,the Obama White House is bleeding approval rating points. Recent polls prove it; Obama’s second term, only in its first year, is circling the drain because of a bad Obamacare website and a hollow pledge.
Clinton, who survived impeachment, and Cheney, a veteran of the post-Watergate Ford administration, are old hands at this. The first rule of holes is when you find yourself in one, stop digging.
A deep admission is at play. The U.S. health insurance lobby holds a lot of power.
A central reason for reforming health care was to protect consumers from a for-profit insurance industry that could deny coverage to the sick, even retroactively, and other excesses detrimental to he public health. However, insurers’ power was such that they largely dictated reform on their own terms.
Here we’ll remind readers that Obama once pledged his version of reform would include a “public option,” meaning coverage that cut private insurers out of the loop. This promise couldn’t stand up to members of Congress, particularly conservative Democrats, who were on friendly terms with the insurance industry.
So, we got reform that, thanks to a mandate for most Americans to purchase health insurance, benefitted the industry.
However, insurers now have restrictions on the type of coverage they can sell. In other words, insurance policies have to be of value — namely that if you get sick, your treatment will be paid for.
This change in law is primarily the reason for the millions of notices of cancellation and/or steep rate hikes. (For context, the change is affecting perhaps only 5 million Americans, mostly those who purchase coverage on their own. However, if you are among that 5 million, you are undoubtedly justified in your anger and surprise.)
So far the Obama administration’s retort to this disappointment has been: You just didn’t know you should be unhappy with your health insurance. In the short run, that’s not likely to pacify Americans who will be paying more for health insurance.
The Clinton-Cheney solution is to let Americans keep policies currently defined by Obamacare as substandard. To add context, Clinton’s proposal would only apply to people who have income above 400 percent of the poverty line and who are presumably in somewhat better financial shape to withstand high medical bills not covered by insurance.
Perhaps the most telling part of this latest episode is the health insurers seem to benefit regardless, either they continue to sell policies of little value or they sell more expensive premiums that are within the bounds of Obamacare.