By now, everyone knows that Obamacare is the public-policy flop of this generation. With the latest news of premiums increasing 22 percent, insurance companies dropping out, rising taxes and less completion, this is truly the Hindenburg of health plans.
But there is another part of the story that needs to be told. President Obama’s team and the liberal echo chamber lied about Obamacare from the start and covered up the financial time bomb that would soon detonate in Americans’ laps. This was like Enron officials cooking the books to cover up financial fraud. Anyone remember how Affordable Care proponents said that the system would pay for itself by using 10 years of revenue to pay for eight years of spending? Try that with a business and the feds will throw you in jail.
The only thing that has caught the left by surprise is that Obamacare has burst into flames so much faster than even severe critics — such as myself — ever thought possible. The left was praying the bad news wouldn’t be exposed until after the election. Now at least Americans will go to the polls with the ugly facts right in front of them.
One technique the left used to try to shut up critics was to accuse us of exaggerating the costs. Nearly two years ago I wrote a column that now looks pretty prescient. It began:
“If there were a contest for the biggest lie in Washington over the past 30 years, it would be hard to compete with President Obama’s boast that he would put 30 million more Americans on Obamacare subsidies and Medicaid, and this would reduce the deficit. … This begs the question: Is there a single promise that Obama made about Obamacare that has proven truthful?”
Well: It hasn’t bent the cost curve down; it has been a major driver of higher budget costs for health care (as the Congressional Budget Office acknowledged last month); it hasn’t given consumers more choices; and it certainly has not saved the average family $2,500 a year.
When I wrote this piece, I was excoriated in the left media as a liar and deceptive. New York Magazine even published an article about me titled: “Guy Who Gets Paid to Say Obamacare Doesn’t Work Can’t Find a Single True Fact to Support His Case”
If anything, I understated the case against Obamacare. The Obamacare insurance companies now want billions of dollars in a taxpayer bailout because the exchange’s costs are in a death spiral. Healthy people aren’t signing up, and sick people are enrolling at a record pace. So this will add billions more to the program’s cost. So much for Obama’s claim this wasn’t going to cost taxpayers a penny.
The few remaining Obamacare defenders meekly say that most people are not facing 22 percent premium hikes because most Americans are in employer plans. But those employer plans are starting to see the same rising pressures.
Mike Tanner, Cato’s health care expert, reports that not only are Americans going to pay more; they’re going to get less: “Deductibles have risen steadily since the ACA began. The average deductible for a family with a Silver plan now exceeds $6,400. Total out-of-pocket costs can exceed $12,000.”
Even the one goal of Obamacare that should have been easy to achieve given the massive cost of the program isn’t being achieved. Instead of 24 million covered, the number is half that — 11.4 million. The vast majority of Americans who have gotten health insurance under the new law were dumped into Medicaid. This is a welfare program for people with very low incomes. Shouldn’t we define success in America when fewer, not more, people are receiving welfare?
So, I will ask the same question I asked two years ago, only with more evidence in hand now: Is there any sane person today who doesn’t recognize the law as a costly and obvious failure?
I’m waiting for an apology from New York Magazine for their smear, but that’s about as likely as Obamacare ever saving money.
Stephen Moore is an economic consultant with Freedom Works and a senior economic adviser to the Donald Trump campaign. To find out more about Stephen Moore and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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