(Author’s note: The following blog was posted on 2/11/15, just five years after the passage of the new healthcare bill called the Affordable Care Act, which we now know as ObamaCare. In the last post, I reviewed the current status of ObamaCare. Today I let you review what I said about it seven years ago. You can see that things have gone from bad to worse.)
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives recently passed a bill to repeal ObamaCare. President Obama responded in his usual way – he doubled-down on his failed healthcare legislation. He said, “This is working not just as intended, but better than intended.”
There is a theory about prevarication that asserts that if you tell a lie often enough, many people will begin to believe it. Therefore it’s worth remembering all of the previous promises of President Obama concerning his signature healthcare law.
Broken Promises Review
Chris Conover, healthcare analyst for Forbes, recently reviewed the five most significant promises made by President Obama:
Promise #1: Universal Coverage
Obama: (6/23/07) – “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American.”
Excluding the illegal aliens never intended to be covered by ObamaCare, the latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections (April 2014) expect that by 2017, ObamaCare will cover 92% of the nonelderly population. (Nearly everyone over 65 is already covered by Medicare.) Sounds good – until you realize that 84.7% were already covered in March 2009 before the law was passed.
Therefore, even if the CBO projections are accurate (and they usually overestimate), ObamaCare will only increase the rolls of the insured by 48% of the deficit. In other words, ObamaCare will insure less than half of those it was intended to insure. How can Obama claim the law is working “better than intended?”
Promise #2: No New Taxes on the Middle Class
Obama: (9/12/08) – “I can make a firm pledge under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”
The CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation projects ObamaCare will increase federal revenues by $1.058 Trillion between 2013 and 2022. Only 30% of that will be raised from taxes exclusively targeting households earning more than $200,000 (individuals) or $250,000 (married).
That leaves 70% of the taxes to be imposed on all income levels. Many of these taxes will be levied directly upon health insurers, medical device manufacturers, drug companies, etc. – and later passed on to consumers. Even if you assume that such households will only bear a similar share of the burden as they do to all federal taxes, this still leaves at least 35% to be borne by families at or below middle-class incomes. That’s not what Obama promised.
Promise #3: Annual Premium Savings of $2,500
Obama: (6/5/08) – “We’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year. . . . We’ll do it by the end of my first term.”
This promise was repeated many times, the most recent on 7/16/12 (after the law was passed). Some have argued this was actually meant to convey that total health spending would decline by that amount. Conover suggests allowing the president this adjusted promise – and also allowing him 12 years rather than four to accomplish his goal.
Even by these relaxed standards, his promise doesn’t hold up. According to figures from the left-leaning Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust annual Employer Health Benefits surveys, there has been no evidence of declining growth in health insurance premiums. The graph below makes this clear.
Once again, ObamaCare’s outcomes fall short of Obama’s intentions.
Promise #4: No Increase in the Deficit
Obama: (9/9/09) – “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits.”
Rep. Paul Ryan pointed out in February 2010 that Obama’s claims used “gimmicks and smoke-and-mirrors” economics to make this claim. The CBO was forced by the White House to use 10 years of revenues but only 6 years of spending to achieve the desired projections.
Since then, several other more accurate assessments have drawn similar conclusions as Ryan. In June 2010, former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin concluded, “the new reform law will raise the deficit by more than $500 Billion during the first 10 years and by nearly $1.5 Trillion in the following decade.”
In April 2012, Medicare public trustee Charles Blahous concluded ObamaCare would add at least $340 Billion to the deficit between 2012 and 2021 but possibly as high as $530 Billion. In February 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) projected that ObamaCare could add $6.2 Trillion (2011 dollars) to the deficit over the next 75 years. That’s a lot of dimes added to the deficit, Mr. President.
Promise #5: You Can Keep Your Plan If You Like It
Obama: (6/15/09) – “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your healthcare plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”
This promise was originally made in a speech to the American Medical Association in an effort to reassure doctors and patients that little would change for them. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. In fact, this promise earned President Obama the Politifact “Lie of the Year” award for 2013.
In 2013, after the opening of the ObamaCare exchanges in October, over 6 million Americans received cancellation notices from their healthcare insurers because their old policies were non-compliant with the new law. The RAND Corporation projects that of 17.7 million who would have had non-group coverage in 2016 absent ObamaCare, only 0.2 million will retain that coverage.
Delays in enforcement of the Employer Mandate have delayed the pain of more cancelled insurance policies. Estimates of how many will lose their employer-provided insurance are widespread. The CBO estimates 11 million, the Medicare actuary estimates 14 million, the Lewin Group says 17.2 million, and the American Action Forum estimates as high as 35 million.
Much like his view of the problem of Islamic extremism, President Obama’s view of his healthcare law seems delusional. In the face of all these failed promises, it is inconceivable that he would argue, “This is working not just as intended, but better than intended.” The American people deserve a better healthcare system – and a president who sees the world as it really exists.