Former Vice President Joe Biden repeated nearly verbatim a promise that President Barack Obama made a decade ago when marshaling public support to pass the Affordable Care Act. That promise proved impossible to keep.
At an AARP forum in Iowa late Monday, Biden said that people who like their health plans can keep them, according to The New York Times.
“If you like your health care plan, your employer-based plan, you can keep it,” Biden said. “If you like your private insurance, you can keep it.”
The words could haunt Biden later. They echo what Obama said countless times when he was making the case to pass his signature healthcare law in 2009 and 2010, popularly known as Obamacare.
“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan,” Obama said at a 2009 town hall on healthcare in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
But that wasn’t the case for many people who bought their own insurance plans.
Millions of Americans with these individual plans received cancellation notices as key elements of the law were being implemented in the fall of 2013 – often because their plans did not meet minimum coverage standards of the law, ProPublica reported. Those with dropped coverage represented less than 2% of the insured population at the time, which stood at 262 million people.
The Obama administration passed a fix to allow insurers to renew existing plans for a year, but it further opened up the law to extensive Republican attacks and the damage was done.
Obama’s oft-repeated promise became PolitiFact’s 2013 Lie of the Year.
Executive Director Lauren Schaver of the Partnership for America’s Healthcare Future, a lobbyist group representing the pharmaceutical and insurance industry, criticized Biden’s “one-size-fits-all plan” in a statement and said they believe it would disrupt the medical care people receive.
“From driving up premiums in the private market, to threatening our nation’s already at-risk hospitals, to diminishing Americans’ access to the quality care they need, research warns that such an approach could be disastrous for patients and consumers,” Schaver said.
But Urban Institute senior healthcare fellow Linda Blumberg told INSIDER that Biden was highlighting with his remarks the plan’s continuity and how it would preserve the method people receive their care, characterizing it as “a feasible plan.”
“What he is trying to convey here is that his reforms are not going to replace employer-based insurance,” Blumberg says, referring to the type of health insurance almost half of Americans have.
Biden’s healthcare proposal largely builds on the existing structures set up under the ACA. It would inject massive federal subsidies into the marketplaces where consumers buy their healthcare. It would also create a government-run public-insurance option allowing people to buy health insurance that competes with private health plans and expand Medicaid in states that haven’t done so already with around 2.5 million Americans able to qualify.