As 2014 begins, many Americans will be confronted by one of President Barack Obama's bigger lies - they will learn they cannot, in fact, stay with trusted health care professionals of their choice.
"We will keep this promise," Obama said. "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period."
Ask those covered by UnitedHealthcare about that one. UnitedHealthcare Medicare is the largest Medicare Advantage insurer in the country. In December, it notified network members of changes that would eliminate thousands of doctors from which patients can choose.
In Ohio alone, the State Medical Association estimates UnitedHeathcare has canceled contracts with hundreds of doctors beginning Jan. 1. Those dropped include most of the orthopedic surgeons in Dayton, the only hand specialty practice serving Cincinnati, a gastroenterology practice with 2,500 patients in the Cincinnati area and a practice of retina specialists serving 600 United Healthcare patients in central and southern Ohio.
Jessica Pappas, a UnitedHeathcare spokeswoman, said "While these changes can be difficult for patients and their doctors, they are necessary to meet rising quality standards, slow the increase in health costs and sustain our plans in an era of Medicare Advantage funding cuts." Obamacare phases in cuts to government payments for Medicare Advantage plans of $156 billion over 10 years.
Even Factcheck.org said Obama's statement was "misleading," and that "the president simply can't make this promise to anyone." But he did. And it is not the only blatant lie in which he has been caught regarding Obamacare. The question now is how many other promises will be broken during the coming year.