Obama’s ‘Universal’ Insurance Mandate Exempts Hardships, Creates Doughnut Hole for the “Quite Poor”

by JC

Yesterday, at Obama’s Organizing For America town hall, he let slip a valuable piece of policy information. In what to-date has been mostly a specifics-free push for reform that meets whatever set of goals that satisfy this week’s polling needs, Obama let loose in an hour and almost 20 minute video town hall that was streamed over the internet and had almost a quarter million call-ins on the conference.

Of course, he almost made it to the end without sticking his neck out. Then, in response to a gentleman’s question about what reform would mean for his son, who would soon be leaving the family insurance plan, we got this as an addendum to his answer:

[starting about 1:14:00 of the video] “…And then there are going to be hardship exemptions, there are going to be some folks who fall in a different category. They may be a little bit older, quite poor, but even with the subsidies they just can’t afford health care insurance and we’ll have to give them some hardship exemptions. And to folks like that we say to you, ok, if you can’t make the payments for, say 10% of your income, if you are in such a strapped situation, and you just can’t afford that, then, uh, you are exempt” …[closing message, then applause]

So I guess the Obama administration and Congress haven’t yet figured out that universal means universal and mandate means mandate. Of course there has to be some sort of doughnut hole. Medicare reform taught us that.

Hardship exemption. Huh. I guess that’s the new euphemism for being uninsured in the age of Obama. A badge of (dis)honor. And to be applauded by an audience full of so-called progressives. Progressive sheep. Maybe that applause was really baa, baa, baa-ing.
white house sheep

Watch the video, then contact your congressional rep to see if you fall in the new doughnut hole exemption. I know I will.

  1. Jim Lang

    I’m not really understanding your outrage. Do you really think someone who “even with the subsidies … just can’t afford health care insurance” should be financially penalized by the government for not buying it?

    • JC

      Universal means covering all people. Mandate means all people must get coverage.

      There will be a class of people who want coverage, yet will not be able to get it. And they are people who need it.

      So we will have narrowed down the pool of uninsured to illegal immigrants and the not-quite-poor-enough yet not-quite-rich-enough to get insurance.

      I just happen to think that’s a crock. Particularly when I most likely will fall in that category, and will continue to be unable to get insurance until I hit Medicare.

      Call it self-interested outrage, if that will help, Jim.

  2. Jim Lang

    I know what universal means, and I know what mandate means. The way the mandate is enforced, is by imposing a penalty on those who do not comply. Do you know what it means to be exempt from a penalty?

    You are advocating that you should NOT be exempt from the penalty… and calling that self-interest?


    • I think what he’s saying is that any health care reform has to insure everyone. By not insuring even just a small group, thats FU. That small group that can’t get insurance is a group that needs it the most.

      That is the point of reform, no?

      I mean – it’s nice and all that they aren’t going to penalize that group of people, but really, wtf (as you put it)?

      • Jim Lang

        It’s been obvious for months that we are not going to have health care reform that provides health care for everyone. This post makes it sound like that is some new information that Obama ‘let slip’. It’s not.

        • Obama aside, Jim – I never took you to be the nonchalant type.

          I will continue writing or phoning until the vote is cast.

          • Jim Lang

            It’s not nonchalance, it’s cynicism.

          • JC

            Cynicism is no reason to quit critiquing the legislative process, and policy goals of the admin.

            I used to be a die-hard cynic. Got tired of my family and friends treating me like an old curmudgeon. So I did something about it.

          • Jim Lang

            Cynicism is not a reason to quit, but realism is a reason to pick your battles.

            For instance jhwygirl saying “I will continue writing or phoning until the vote is cast.” Writing or phoning who? Max Baucus? Denny Rehberg? They certainly don’t care how many times you call them.

          • Lizard

            have you guys read Matt Taibbi’s screed against our “legislative” process as it pertains to health care reform? i like his indignant style, and the article is very informative about how fucked our “process” has become.

            if the bill comes out as bad as it’s looking, the progressive dems should actually try to assert themselves and pull their support. maybe that would wipe the smirk from Pelosi’s craven face.

        • JC

          Obvious? It was obvious to you that Obama was going to exclude this specific group of people who need access to health care the most?

          You think that is a good progressive goal? Do you know how many people are stuck in Medicaid because they cannot afford (because of medical expenses) to make more than the Medicaid cutoff? That their next job up doesn’t provide health care, or pay enough to cover an individual health care plan?

          Obama’s doughnut hole will continue the choice that people have to make between keeping their healthcare (Medicaid) or taking a marginally better job with no health benefits.

          I happen to think Obama’s revelation of that fact yesterday, in the absence of any other health insurance reform details was quite striking.

          And the fact that progressives in attendance applauded him showed what sheep many of them have become.

          • Jim Lang

            “It was obvious to you that Obama was going to exclude this specific group of people who need access to health care the most?”


            “You think that is a good progressive goal?”


            “I happen to think Obama’s revelation of that fact yesterday, in the absence of any other health insurance reform details was quite striking.”

            Except, despite your histrionics, there was no such revelation, Obama has said clearly all along that the only to cover everyone is with single payer, and that that is not going to happen.

          • problembear

            of course we need to plug this hole. it’s ridiculous. goes against any decent person’s sensibility. it erodes a person’s incentive to better one self economically. essentially imprisoning the person who’s survival depends on the medical care.

            i can be cynical too but i have my limits. sometimes you need to get up on your hind legs and demand some common sense from that worm farm in washington that thinks up this stuff. fire the idiot on obama’s staff who actually proposed this. that would be a start. and then, back to the drawing board, mr president.

        • Steve W

          We haven’t known for months or for weeks what the health care industrial complex will allow us to have.

          All we know is that they say they will allow us to have something, maybe. if we bribe them well enough.

  3. problembear

    here’s a great post with some inspiring footage- bookmark this blog!


    common sense! i love it.

    • Pogo Possum

      “. . . . it’s a giant poker game and we are the chips.”

      Perhaps that is why so many people on on all sides of the political spectrum are concerned and speaking out…..they don’t like the game or the way it is being played.

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