PR Obamacare Enrollment Astroturf Blitz
A desperate yet predictable sham to reverse public opinion of the "Affordable" Care Act and Democrats' congressional prospects in November
This 24 hours leading up to today and Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” Rose Garden announcement have been fascinating. First, from the ABC News/Washington Post poll showing Americans now support Obamacare when answering the question as Ben Domenech pointed out “Overall, do you support or oppose the federal law making changes to the health care system?”. Not mentioning Obamacare in the question isn’t only silly, to trumpet that Americans support the law on this question is blatant journalistic misrepresentation. Sadly, it’s not surprising at all.
Then we get other media sources trying to pile on how wrong the GOP has been in their predictions of what would happen. Here’s a doozy from Yahoo! I have provided let’s just say, contradictory evidence to the article. To summarize, it is all because Obama has been unilaterally (and illegally) delaying his own law from being enacted. All of the delays are nicely summarized here.
Death panels. Sarah Palin and others warned the ACA would include government-controlled “death panels” that would ration care, effectively deciding who qualifies for life-saving treatment and who doesn’t. That was never part of the law and nothing like it is in effect. While the government, under the ACA, provides subsidies and tax credits and helps [wink wink] with enrollment, all insurance is provided by nonprofit and private-sector firms, just as before the law. They have their own rules governing what’s covered, based on the type of policy — but that has always been the case. Do a web search. There are plenty of cases in which Harry Reid likes to call these people liars, most notably this cancer patient. Another notable instance was Kathleen Sebelius denying a lung transplant to a dying 10 year-old girl.
Mass layoffs. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and others warned that many firms — especially small and medium-sized businesses — would be forced to slash payrolls on account of the ACA. That hasn’t happened. The economy has added nearly 900,000 jobs since the ACA went info effect, and small-business optimism has improved substantially. Back in February, ACA critics waved around a Congressional Budget Office report estimating the law would reduce employment by about 2 million people during the next 3 years; but rather than “killing jobs,” the CBO itself pointed out that the law would allow people working mainly to obtain healthcare benefits to quit their jobs.
Meanwhile, it’s true that penalties for employers that don’t comply with the ACA have been delayed until 2015, but those don’t apply to firms with fewer than 50 employees, and so far there are no major signs that bigger firms will axe workers. It will probably happen in a few cases — especially at firms right around the 50-worker threshold — but overall, economists expect job growth to pick up in 2015 and beyond. Uh, there’s a reason why. Obama (illegally) extending the employer mandate until 2015 has delayed that hammer that will eventually fall on businesses. Those penalties are nasty and will eventually have a very adverse affect on business payrolls and worse, soon to be pink-slipped employees. It will eventually happen and would happen if the law was left untouched and without delays.
Part-timer nation. Another concern has been companies replacing full-time workers with part-timers, to skirt ACA requirements that mostly relate to full-time workers. That hasn’t happened either. The full-time workforce has increased by 936,000 since the ACA went into effect, while the number of part-time workers has fallen by 91,000. It’s still plausible some firms will replace full-timers with part-timers as the 2015 deadline approaches, but there are business reasons not to do that and other economic trends may simply be more powerful than incentives generated by Obamacare. As was pointed out in previous paragraph. FEBRUARY 10, 2014: The Treasury Department pushes back enforcement of the employer mandate for medium-sized employers, with 50 to 99 employees, to offer health insurance to full-time workers until 2016. In July 2013, the employer mandate was first pushed back to 2015 for all businesses.
Skyrocketing health costs. Sort the data in such and such a way, and you can find instances where insurance premiums or overall healthcare costs seem to have skyrocketed since the ACA became law in 2010. But in general, there’s been a surprising slowdown in the rise of insurance and healthcare costs during the last few years. The annual premium for a typical family plan rose by 13% per year from 1999 to 2013, on average, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But from 2012 to 2013, premiums rose by only 4%. Data from Standard & Poor’s shows that overall medical costs have been rising at a smaller rate as well since at least 2010. It’s probably not accurate to claim Obamacare is responsible for those improvements, since it could mostly be due to pinched consumers spending more carefully or other factors. But it is does seem clear Obamacare has not pushed costs up. Then why did Obama have to delay insurance expiration notices in November 2013? The Obama administration delays the individual mandate by one year for those Americans whose health insurance was cancelled by Obamacare regulations. Individuals with cancelled plans are allowed to claim a “hardship exemption” due to the health care law’s regulations for all of 2014. Probably the blatantly political of all of the delays. Once these policies expired, premiums would skyrocket because of the exit of this very large pool of people paying premiums into the insurer’s pool combining with insurers having to pay out more claims because of people with pre-existing conditions. That last part is cruel but economics are not compassionate.
The total collapse of American society. Rush Limbaugh predicted Obamacare would boost the divorce rate. Other fears include government agents snooping on your sex life, showing up at your home for unannounced inspections and imposing a whole range of unadvertised new taxes. Nobody would be able to see an actual doctor any more, and America as a whole would end up as a failed socialist state.
None of those things has occurred or is in the works. Mayhem may still be possible, for those convinced Obamacare will ruin America. But it seems more likely the nation will just keep on humming. It hasn’t happened because the law hasn’t allowed to be enacted and enforced as written. Strange that a law that a president is so proud of a law he passed needs to continue to usurp the separation of powers between branches of government to prevent it from functioning as is written. I wonder why that is.
There are still the very unimportant unknowns that the Obama Administration does not want to talk about like how many of these enrollees are actually insured and paying premiums, how much of a net increase in people who are insured compared to before passage of the law, etc.
I feel somewhat sorry for whomever the next president is going to be. Obama’s all about keeping his presidential legacy shiny while he is in office and then by means of Obamacare delays, dropping his colossal mess into the lap of our next leader in the White House.
In closing it is important to note that Obamacare was deemed a “budget act” by the Senate parliamentarian allowing the law to be passed by reconciliation. It can be undone with a GOP House majority, 51 GOP Senators, and a GOP president. Will the GOP have to guts to? Our party’s leaders in Congress don’t give me much to be optimistic about.