Friday, July 19, 2013

Obamacare and the weaselly use of "may" when you mean "might"

One of my pet peeves is that the word "may" is used at different times to convey two entirely different meanings, thereby creating great uncertainty about the true meaning of a sentence.  If I say that "I may go to the store", do I mean that I am allowed to go to the store, or that there is a chance that I will go to the store?  If, instead, I say "I might go to the store", then it is clear that I mean the latter.  If we reserve "may" for use only when you mean the former, then there can be no ambiguity.  For some reason, however, it has become common to use "may" to convey each meaning, although it actually ends up conveying both meanings at the same time.

As is their wont, politicians will take any opportunity they can to be ambiguous and weaselly, and the blurriness between "may" and "might" gives them one more safe harbor.  I was reminded of this when I read a blog post by Jeryl Bier at the Weekly Standard about the Obama Administration's backpedaling on its guarantee that, under Obamacare, you will be able to keep your current doctor.  You might recall this statement from the President:
Here is a guarantee that I've made. If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance. If you've got a doctor that you like, you will be able to keep your doctor.
 Now we have this from Health and Human Services:
Depending on the plan you choose in the Marketplace, you may be able to keep your current doctor.
The problem is that, because of the many onerous regulations and restrictions under Obamacare, plans available in the Marketplace in your state (the health exchanges that each state is required to have) will not necessarily include all of the insurance plans that had been available. And, even if your plan is available, it might not include your doctor any longer. 

So, the President's iron-clad guarantee that you can keep the same doctor, which only a fool would have believed, has become the weaselly "you may keep the same doctor", thereby creating the illusion that you will be allowed to keep the same doctor.  The fact is that you might be able keep the same doctor, but that Obamacare might be responsible for eliminating your plan and your doctor as options.