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February 20, 2010

Obama Slams Anthem Blue Cross for Rate Hikes

In his weekly radio/web address, the President vilified health insurers and singled out California insurer Anthem Blue Cross: "The other week, men and women across California opened up their mailboxes to find a letter from Anthem Blue Cross. The news inside was jaw-dropping. Anthem was alerting almost a million of its customers that it would be raising premiums by an average of 25 percent, with about a quarter of folks likely to see their rates go up by anywhere from 35 to 39 percent."

What's jaw-dropping is the President's willingness to imply that more regulation on health insurers would lower rates. In fact, part of the reason for the Anthem Blue Cross rate hike is new rules from Sacramento. The insurer is also having to find alternatives to income from younger, healthier Californians who, having been laid off in disproportionately high numbers in Obama's failed economy, are forgoing insurance in the individual market at greater numbers. That drives up the cost of the individual market.

This is going to be Obama's new "one hundred years of war in Iraq" claim. During the election, he used McCain's statement that he wouldn't be surprised or bothered if there were American troops stationed in Iraq for "maybe a hundred years" over and over again to imply that McCain wanted to fight the war for a century. In fact, McCain was talking about military bases, much like our bases on Okinawa and in Germany, not fighting a century-long war. That didn't stop Obama or the Democrats from endlessly parroting the "one hundred years of war" paraphrase until it became received wisdom.

That's what the President is aiming at with the Anthem Blue Cross claim. If he can golly-gee-shucks-jawdrop this story enough, he's hoping people will forget that the alternative to raising rates is cutting costs and, to the extent possible under California's draconian regulations, refusing to insure more sickly, expensive customers.

The failed Obama economic policies brought us here. The anti-prosperity policies of "progressive governance" in Sacramento did too. Democrats are blaming Anthem Blue Cross for trying to stay in business to distract voters from their own failures. It will be front-and-center in Monday's healthcare summit. Republicans must resist this populist claim.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 09:48 PM

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