Obamacare had a bad week at the Supreme Court.
Actually Obamacare has had a pretty bad four years. Not surprisingly, most Americans still don’t like Obamacare. So the Obama administration’s allies are insisting that the unpopular law is working very well, thank you very much.
For example, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says, “The Affordable Care Act has receded from the front page, but information about how it’s going keeps coming in- and almost all the news is good.” Likewise, Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine recently insisted that “ …a steady stream of far more solid data has come in, and the doomsaying predictions are being hunted to extinction”
Well, that depends on the predictions, who made them, and how Chait’s “solid data” is selected. In fact, it’s the president’s bright and airy promises- you can keep your plan, etc. – that have dissipated with the morning mist.
In contrast, many of Obamacare’s critics’ predictions have held up. The specific predictions of Charles Blahous, a Public Trustee of the Medicare program, have been proved to be accurate, such as his assertion that not all states would expand Medicaid. Recall that Michigan’s Democratic then-governor Jennifer Granholm insisted that no state — not one — could resist Medicaid expansion because it was accompanied by Washington’s promise of “free” federal money. But it’s Blahous, not Granholm, who’s been proved right:: 21 states have not expanded Medicaid knowing that the budget costs would be higher than projected. Three states are still debating the option.
Obama said the law would not add “one dime” to the federal deficit, but Blahous said the combination of certain massive spending and uncertain cost savings would worsen federal deficits. While Obama’s groupies said the law would “bend the cost curve” and reduce emergency room usage, Blahous pointed out that health costs are increasing – along with emergency room usage. That wasn’t supposed to happen.
My Heritage Foundation colleagues, in a series of short papers on the law’s specific provisions, turned out to be impressively farsighted about the impact of Obamacare. The four-year record shows that those early predictions are coming true.
Take Obamacare’s impact on jobs and work. The administration’s allies said the law would be good for jobs and the economy. Heritage analysts said the law would undercut both. Business leaders mostly agreed with Heritage and rejected the fanciful claims of the administration’s academic and media allies.
The new costs of the health law created tremendous uncertainty within the business community and have discouraged hiring. The threat of the employer mandate to cover full-time employees with Washington’s approved insurance encouraged more and more firms to push their workers into part-time status.
Meanwhile, the combination of Obamacare taxes and subsidies will discourage work. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the law will reduce the number of full-time equivalent workers by about 2 million in 2017 and 2.5 million in 2024. On June 10, 2014, CBO said, “That reduction will occur almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive.” CBO further stated that the biggest decline in work will occur among persons making less than $46,000 per year.
Then, there’s the individual mandate. Heritage analysts predicted its enforcement would be a nightmare. In 2013, the administration started softening up its enforcement, ruling that the millions of Americans with health plan cancellations courtesy of Obamacare could claim a “hardship” exemption. This year, the administration declared people could avoid the mandate penalty if they simply attested that the exchange plans were too expensive for them. Obama threatened to veto any congressional delay of the mandate, but his administration itself effectively delayed it. Go figure.
Finally, there is the great exchange enrollment. Heritage predicted the law would discourage young people from enrolling in the more costly mandatory insurance. Krugman, citing a recent Gallup survey, reports, wrote, “… that a lot of people have gained insurance through the program and that the age mix of the new enrollees looks pretty good.”
Well, not so fast. In 2013, Obama administration officials said the goal was for people 18-34 to account for 40 percent of exchange enrollments. According to HHS figures released April 17 that covered the end of 2014’s open season, this age category accounted for only 28 percent. The administration emphasized that 35 percent of the enrollees were “under the age of 35.” But, as Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post pointed out, that figure included children under the age of 18. By the end of the year, the data will harden, as CBO indicated, and we will know a lot more about exchange enrollment.
Obamacare is doing just great — if you ignore all of its problems.