Last Thursday, the president announced the Obamacare debate over for the second time this month. The pretext for his repetition of this talking point was yet another implausible claim concerning the number of people his health care law has helped gain coverage. He offered this new total, 8 million, as proof that further resistance to “reform” is futile: “The repeal debate is and should be over…The Affordable Care Act is working.” If you feel that President Obama is protesting a bit too much, you are not alone. Public opinion surveys consistently show that most Americans still oppose Obamacare.
The Right Prescription
The replacement of Kathleen Sebelius by Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the Secretary of Health and Human Services has been portrayed by the legacy “news” media as a new lease on life for Obamacare. The party line is that Sebelius was mortally wounded by GOP exploitation of a single uncharacteristic mistake — the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov — while Burwell is a brilliant Beltway veteran unsullied by controversy and possessing the very administrative skills needed to save Obama’s “signature domestic achievement.” As the Los Angeles Times put it, “Advisors to the president say he is putting his best organizational player into the position.”
Last Tuesday, our President swaggered into the Rose Garden to announce that 7.1 million people have signed up for health coverage through Obamacare’s exchanges and that all further argument about the future of his “signature domestic achievement” was pointless: “The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.” The problem with this claim is that no one with a basic grasp of arithmetic believes Obama’s enrollment figures, only about a quarter of the electorate supports his “reform” law, and it is still the target of multiple lawsuits challenging its constitutionality.
Yesterday President Obama claimed that “more than 3 million young adults… have gained insurance under this law by staying on their family’s plan.”
Indeed, the number of young people who can now stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26 — the so-called “slacker mandate” — is one of the most oft-repeated Obamacare statistics. The Los Angeles Times used it in a recent article to claim that because of Obamacare “at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage.” That included not only the 3.1 million young adults who are covered by their parents’ plans but also about 2 million on the exchanges and 4.5 million on Medicaid.
A new survey reveals that public esteem for Obamacare is continuing to plummet, hitting yet another historic low. According to an Associated Press-GfK poll released last Friday, “President Barack Obama's health care law is languishing at its lowest level since passage of the landmark legislation four years ago, according to a new poll.” The AP survey shows that a mere “26 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act.”
When the law was passed, 39 percent of the public supported it. But the President, along with his accomplices in Congress and the media, assured us that this percentage would rise once “reform” was implemented. In other words, Obama and his minions are no better at prognostication than they are at managing websites, insurance exchanges or anything else relating to health care. Even now, they can’t see that Obamacare is a colossal failure.
One of the reasons Clarence Thomas gives for the studious silence he maintains during Supreme Court hearings is that his fellow justices have shown an increasing tendency to talk too much during oral arguments, thus preventing advocates from presenting their arguments coherently. Yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius suggest that Thomas is right.
Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments concerning constitutional challenges to Obamacare’s contraception mandate brought by Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties. The families that own and operate these private corporations believe the mandate violates the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing them to provide employees with health insurance covering abortifacients. Both families have grave religious objections to the use of such drugs.
Neither company objects to birth control, per se. Indeed, both provide coverage to their employees for most types of contraception. Yet civilization as we know it will collapse if the justices rule in their favor, according to the increasingly shrill prognostications of panicky liberals. Such a decision, progressives shriek, would constitute a victory for the dark forces behind the “war on women,” erode employee protections against discrimination, and dramatically reduce access to health care for all workers.
A new survey confirms that the “Affordable Care Act” has failed to achieve one of its most important goals — making health coverage accessible to the uninsured. As the Washington Post reports, “Just one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private health plans through the new marketplace have signed up for one.” Why so few? According to the survey, which was released last Thursday by McKinsey & Company, the most common reason cited by uninsured respondents was lack of affordability. Out of five possible reasons for failing to enroll, most chose, “I could not afford to pay the premium.”
President Obama is planning to break the law, once again, in an effort to protect vulnerable Democrats in the Senate. According to news reports, “the White House will announce a new directive allowing insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet Obamacare’s minimum coverage requirements.” In the absence of this “directive,” health insurance companies would have to cancel millions of health policies just a few weeks before November’s congressional elections. Obama’s edict would theoretically forestall, until after those crucial midterms, a tsunami of voter outrage that would inevitably drown the reelection prospects of many Democrats.
Buried beneath the avalanche of recent news reports about the latest Obamacare-mandated funding cuts to the Medicare Advantage (MA) program is a related but far more disturbing story — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken a major step toward rationing medications to the elderly. Since passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, seniors enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program have been guaranteed access to “all or substantially all” of the drugs in several classes of pharmaceuticals. President Obama’s health care bureaucrats, however, have proposed removing three of these classes from the “protected” list.