The ACP Advocate Blog
by Bob Doherty
Thursday, August 7, 2014
“Obamacare” is a lifeline, not a train wreck
For years, critics of Obamacare (Affordable Care Act), have predicted that it would turn out to be a “train wreck”—or something worse. But now we know that by every objective measure, the ACA is working out pretty darn well. Let’s run through the “train wreck” predictions, and what we now know to actually be the case:
Train wreck prediction #1:
“Obamacare will lead to skyrocketing health care cost increases and explode the deficit.”
Typical was the claim by Obamacare opponent Avik Roy that “healthcare spending will explode under Obamacare.”
But now we know that:
In 2012, total health care spending increased by 3.7%, the “lowest rate since 1960.” Most recently, the CBO substantially reduced its forecast of projected deficit spending, largely because of the slowdown in healthcare spending. And the CBO’s director confirmed his agency’s long-standing view that the ACA will lower the deficit.
The ACA may not be totally responsible for the healthcare spending slow down—the same thing is happening in other wealthier countries reports the New York Times.
But the facts to date show that Obamacare surely has not caused health care cost increases to skyrocket, or the deficit to explode; rather, health care spending has slowed and deficits are going down.
Train wreck prediction #2:
“More people will lose coverage under Obamacare than gain it.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner was one of many ACA critics who made this claim.
But now we know that:
Far more people gained coverage than lost it.
The Washington Post’s independent fact-checker wrote in March that there’s “more than enough to demonstrate that no matter how you count it, there has been no net loss in insurance coverage.”
In fact, today we now know for sure that Obamacare has allowed far more previously uninsured people to gain health insurance coverage than lose it. It’s not even close. Kaiser Health News reports that three independent studies found that the ACA “reduced the number of uninsured adults by 8 to 11 million people”. Politico, a highly respected, independent and non-partisan news source for DC policy wonks and politicians, concludes that “by now, the trend is unmistakable: Millions of people who didn’t have health insurance before the Affordable Care Act have gained it since last fall. The law is not just covering people who already had health coverage, but adding new people to the ranks of the insured — which was the point of the law all along.”
To recap, these are the plain and simple facts:
Opponents of Obamacare predicted that Obamacare would become a “train wreck” because health care spending would skyrocket and the deficit would explode as a result. The fact is you’d have to go back over half a century to find a time when health care spending has grown so slowly; the CBO says that federal deficit spending is declining (largely due to the slowdown in healthcare spending), and that the ACA will continue to lower the deficit in the future.
Opponents of Obamacare predicted that it would become a “train wreck” because millions more would lose coverage than gain it. But the fact is that under Obamacare, the uninsured rate is the lowest it’s been since at least 2008, according to Gallup, with the rate dropping across nearly every subgroup—extending coverage to some 8 to 11 million previously uninsured adults.
For the millions who have gained coverage, Obamacare today is looking a lot more like a lifeline than a train wreck.
But it’s not only the uninsured who benefit. Don’t we all share in the benefit of having lower healthcare spending, lower deficits, and from seeing fewer of our neighbors delay getting needed health care because they couldn't afford health insurance?
Today’s questions: Is Obamacare a train wreck or a lifeline? And if you still think it is (or will become) a train wreck, what facts do you have to back that up?
About the Author
Bob Doherty is Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians Government Affairs and Public Policy; Author of the ACP Advocate Blog
Email Bob Doherty: TheACPAdvocateblog@acponline.org.Follow @BobDohertyACP
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