October 23, 2014

If ObamaCare Is So Great, Why Aren’t Democrats Campaigning on It?

Other than higher premiums, bigger debt and expanded Medicaid, everything’s great.

ObamaCare isn’t exactly Democrats’ favorite campaign theme this year, but then again, they’re having trouble coming up with even one reason to vote Democrat in the midterm election. Hence the tired tropes of how Republicans are racist, sexist, anti-gay discriminators who also hate puppies and rainbows. But just remember: Democrats are staying away from ObamaCare for good reason.

The New York Times editorial board complains, “[T]he Affordable Care Act, one of the most far-reaching and beneficial laws to have been passed by Congress in years, gets little respect even among the Democratic candidates who voted for it. Though none support the Republican position of repeal, most talk about the need to ‘fix’ the health law, as if it were a wreck alongside the road rather than a vehicle providing millions of people with health coverage.”

We’ll give the Times “far-reaching,” though that’s an awfully mild way of putting it for a law that took over one-sixth of the U.S. economy. But “beneficial”? For consumers whose plans are now drastically more expensive – if they can keep them at all – the law is anything but beneficial. Taxpayers who will foot the bill for this monstrosity aren’t getting much bang for the buck, either.

In his remarks to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9, 2009, Barack Obama pledged, “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future.” Conservatives were never fooled by this outlandish promise, and subsequent events have borne out our predictions.

Early projections by the Congressional Budget Office in 2010 forecast that ObamaCare would reduce the deficit by $124 billion between 2010 and 2019. But that was only thanks to what Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) called “gimmicks and smoke-and-mirrors” accounting.

After the first years of ObamaCare’s outworking, however, the Senate Budget Committee released its own report using the CBO’s methods, and the committee found that ObamaCare will increase the deficit by $131 billion between 2015 and 2024. It’s likely more than that, but again, this is based on the CBO’s methods.

As for premiums, we’ve often noted the drumbeat of price increases, but here’s a new one. Last year’s open enrollment began in October. This year, it’s no accident the enrollment period, along with announced premium rates, was delayed until after the election. And for good reason. Jed Graham of Investor’s Business Daily expects Bronze Plan premiums (the most affordable on the market, and therefore especially appealing to low-income people) will increase by an average of 14%. In some cities, like Seattle, it could rise 64%.

Okay, well, scratch the savings on federal spending and insurance premium rates. At least, as the Times’ editorial also boasts, ObamaCare is “providing millions of people with health coverage.” How’s that working?

Not well. According to the National Health Interview Survey, some 41 million Americans remain uninsured, and nine out of 10 of them have no idea open enrollment is around the corner.

As for those who are enrolling, Edmund Haislmaier and Drew Gonshorowski write at The Daily Signal, “[T]he Obamacare gains in coverage were largely a result of the Medicaid expansion and … most of the gain in private coverage through the government exchanges was offset by a decline in employer-based coverage. In other words, it is likely that most of the people who got coverage through the exchanges were already insured.”

Haislmaier and Gonshorowski found ObamaCare enrollment was 6,254,564 individuals, but those with “private employer-sponsored group plans declined by 3,788,978 individuals.” Furthermore, “In the states implementing the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, enrollment in Medicaid grew by 5,716,977 individuals. In the states not implementing the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, enrollment in Medicaid grew by 355,674 individuals.” In short, the gain in insured individuals occurred primarily because of the expansion in Medicaid, as well as moving previously insured people from private plans onto ObamaCare. They couldn’t keep the plans they liked.

That trend is only going to get worse as the employer mandate kicks in next year (it too was delayed until after the election). Businesses employing at least 100 people must provide health insurance or pay a fine – about $2,000 per employee. Employers are cutting hours for employees, or offering bare-bones, “skinny” plans to avoid both the fine and insurance.

But many employers are looking to take advantage of ObamaCare’s provision for low-income workers. An employer is no longer charged a penalty if an employee qualifies for and enrolls in Medicaid. Nor is the employee fined (or was it taxed?) for not having insurance. It’s a win-win. Well, except for taxpayers.

Swelling the ranks of Medicaid users wasn’t exactly the grand Democrat promise. Skyrocketing insurance premiums and one of the largest effective tax increases in history weren’t either. Democrats have mastered the art of the BIG Lie, and the nation is paying the price.

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