President Obama will surely defend his signature health legislation, but he cannot skirt recognition of the hardship that his measures have already caused. The administration repeatedly points to the insurance market reforms tucked into the bill that restrict plans from dropping or denying coverage to people with prior conditions. Indeed, few would argue that there wasn't a need for some measure of insurance reform for individuals who get sick or have existing conditions. But there were a lot of ways to tackle this challenge without destabilizing the entire insurance market. Now we are witnessing an ad hoc effort by the administration to suspend various parts of the legislation, and give favored employers and states waivers from the most burdensome parts of their legislation. They are trying to keep things in the insurance market together until 2012. The administration doesn't want to destabilize the health market too much before the president has to run for re-election. But premiums and prices are already rising as a consequence of the health legislation-and so is the number of Americans priced out of coverage. President Obama needs to explain to Americans why he passed major health legislation only to see the health insurance market come undone. His temptation will be to blame insurers. That political playbook is used up. It will ring hollow on a public that was promised "reform."
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, M.D., is a resident fellow at AEI.