January 11 2017
New Boston Post
The American people should be prepared: We should expect nothing less than defcon-five level alarmism from some lawmakers on the Left who are fearful that President Barack Obama’s namesake health care law will soon be undone.
In fact earlier this week, Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who oversaw the passage of the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. House (and likely lost her post as Speaker due to the law’s unpopularity), said Republicans want to “Make America Sick Again.” How’s that for demagoguery?
Pelosi is leading a wide-scale messaging effort against the repeal of Obamacare. She circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter to Hill Democrats, and held a December 29 conference call to gear up for January press events to “highlight the risks of repeal of the ACA.”
We know what that means. As is typical, Democrats will use the most vulnerable people in society in an attempt to scare the public into supporting big government. They will argue that low-income people and people with pre-existing conditions will suffer as a result of Obamacare repeal.
They will oversell the “risks of repeal” while they ignore the very real harms the Affordable Care Act is causing. They will not acknowledge that the law has fueled the skyrocketing of health insurance premiums and deductibles. They will conveniently ignore that Obamacare resulted in the cancellation of millions of health plans (despite promises to the contrary), that it has led to more limited provider networks and health care access, and that it has still left 28 million people without insurance.
Democrats must be missing the polling data that shows that more than half again as many people say the Affordable Care Act has hurt their family as say it helped. In short, Democrats will not heed the results of the election and admit their policy is a colossal failure.
Instead, Democrats will focus on one messaging point: They will argue that Obamacare repeal will take insurance away from 20 million people who now depend on the law’s benefits.
And even that point is misleading. First, the number is way off. We have to consider not just enrollments in Medicaid or the exchanges (or young adults who were added to their parents’ plans). We have to look at the net increase in health insurance enrollment after considering that many people lost coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Researchers who did this found that approximately 14 million people, not 20 million, gained insurance coverage. The overwhelming majority of those (11.7 million) were simply added to the Medicaid program.
And most of those new Medicaid enrollees (about two-thirds) were eligible for the program before the law passed. This means they would not lose their Medicaid coverage as a result of Affordable Care Act repeal.
Even so, Medicaid isn’t the best solution for low-income Americans. They would be better off if they could afford private insurance of their own, because private insurance is accepted more widely among health providers and correlates to better health outcomes. The best policy to help our low-income neighbors is one that targets the root problem — high insurance premiums—and brings them down.
Obamacare does the opposite. It made health insurance more expensive through cumbersome, misguided, and unnecessary regulations. This is why premiums are now double or triple what they used to be for some consumers.
After the law’s regulations raise prices this way, it uses a system of subsidies to bring prices back down (for some, but not all customers). The government brags that 8 in 10 exchange customers are subsidized. But this is silly. Why not simply avoid the higher prices to begin with? After all, taxpayers fund the subsidies; they don’t just appear out of thin air.
The quality of the plans offered on the Obamacare exchanges should be examined too. One study showed that half of Affordable Care Act customers skipped a doctor visit because they couldn’t afford it. Surely this isn’t what the law’s creators envisioned.
As with any policy change, there will be winners and losers in the immediate term. It’s a big country, and there’s no doubt that some people have benefited due to the Affordable Care Act. But it’s not a law that works for everyone or even most people, and kind-hearted Americans should not allow Democrat fear-mongering to scare them into thinking that millions of their compatriots will be left without health care should the Affordable Care Act be repealed. In the long run, repealing the law and replacing it with a more economically sound health care policy will benefit us all, including those who have gained coverage in recent years.