Media coverage of the ongoing debate over how to repeal and replace Obamacare has been exceptionally inept. It has ignored the deceptive manner in which the former President’s failed legislation was enacted, the depth of nationwide opposition to it, and the failures that require its elimination.
One of the key architects of the “affordable Care Act,” Jonathon Gruber, has boasted about the misstatements and coverups that were employed to gain passage. Notably, he has stated that “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage, and basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter.”
Obamacare was enacted in a Democrat-only, party line vote, in which even the elected officials voting on the measure has only a limited knowledge of what was in the bill. The American people knew even less, as demonstrated by then-speaker Pelosi’s infamous comment: “But we have to pass the…bill so that you can find out what’s in it….”
The Washington Post reports that “…there are now seven Gruber [Jonathon Gruber has been termed Obamacare’s “architect”] videos, in which he mocks the “stupidity” of American voters and boasts of the Obama administration’s ability to take advantage of it…”
The Americans for Prosperity (AFP) organization has listed the most notable deceptions.
- “If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan.”
- “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.”
- “We’re going to lower your premiums by up to $2500 per family per year.”
- “No family making less than $250,000 a year will see their taxes increase.”
- “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits, now or in the future.”
- “I will sign a universal healthcare bill into law…that covers every American.”
Marketwatch notes that “Obamacare barely passed Congress in 2010. If people had known how it would develop, the health-care act would likely never have become law.”
Among the many failings of the measure noted by Marketwatch:
- Low enrollment. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that between 9.4 million and 11.4 million signed up in 2016…In contrast, in March 2010, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 21 million people would be enrolled on the exchanges.
- High numbers of uninsured. There are still 31 million uninsured, and the number is never projected to go below 29 million, according to CBO.
- Lost doctors. Varioussources note that a common (and popular) way to reduce premium costs has been to reduce the number of doctors in the insurer’s network.
- Lost plans.Sen. Ben Sasse released a reportabout Obamacare’s effects on competition among insurers, concluding that outcomes have worsened for most Americans, in terms of choice of insurers and plans. Over the past year, the number of insurers offering plans in exchanges has dropped by nearly 6%.Many states have lost more than 80% of their insurers: Alabama went from 23 to 3, Arkansas went from 24 to 4, and Wyoming from 21 to 1, just to name a few. Only New York did not lose over half of its insurers, going from 28 to 15 insurers, a 46% decline.
- Higher premiums.A reportby the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust found that, since 2008, average employer family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865. From 2015 to 2016 the most popular exchange family plan, Family Silver, saw a 10% average increase in its premiums. In some states, premiums rose by nearly 40%.In 2015 the average annual family premium was $17,545 per year, and the average premium for a single policy was $6,251. Young men were particularly hard-hit. Average premiums rose by 49% from 2013 to 2014, the year Obamacare was supposed to go into effect.
- Higher deductibles. The New York Times, long a cheerleader for Obamacare, reported that many people can’t afford to use the health insurancethat they have purchased because of the deductibles.New York Times reporter Robert Pear wrote that the median deductible in Miami was $5,000 in 2015. It was $5,500 in Jackson, Miss., and $4,000 in Phoenix. One Chicago family of four paid $1,200 monthly for coverage yet had an annual deductible of $12,700.
- High costs.The Office of the Actuary of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has projected that Obamacarewill result in an additional $274 billion in administrative costs alone over the period of 2014 through 2022.
AFP noted that “The promise to repeal Obamacare is what drove Americans to overwhelmingly cast their ballots for Obamacare’s opponents in three out of the last four elections.” The anger over the measure, in addition to its deceptions and failures, ran roughshod over individual rights. WND worries that “The…Affordable Health Care Act…has forced nuns to pay for abortions, demanded that Christians violate their doctrines of faith…and much more.”
Much has been written about the fact that, just two months into his term, President Trump and Congress have not yet replaced the failed legislation. However, a more open and vigorous debate about the replacement attempt is a good thing. Rather than a secretive, deceptive, and ill-conceived measure such as Obama’s bill, a more fact-based and strenuous process centered on a vigorous exchange of ideas has a far better chance to produce an end product that actually improves, rather than harms, health care.