Obamacare Doomed by CBO and HHS Reports
David Catron
by

In late 2009, while the Obamacare debate raged, a Gallup poll found that the public’s top concern about the bill was its potential cost. Seven years later, long after “reform” became law, Gallup found that Americans still named cost as the most urgent health care problem. Consequently, the combined effect of last week’s reports from the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is lethal to Obamacare. HHS reported that insurance premiums have doubled since 2013 while the CBO found that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) will produce lower premiums “than current law.”

“Current law,” in the vernacular of the CBO, means the “Affordable Care Act.” AHCA is, of course, the GOP “repeal and replace” bill that passed the House in early May and is currently under review by the Senate. The CBO’s assertion that AHCA would produce lower premiums than would Obamacare precipitated an inevitable propaganda campaign by the “news” media. Countless outlets published preposterous headlines like this one from Yahoo News: “Budget Office: 23 Million People Would Lose Insurance Under New Health Care Law.” The point of such inaccurate reports was to distract the public from findings like the following:

About one-third of the population resides in states that would [under AHCA] make moderate changes to market regulations. In those states, CBO and JCT expect that, overall, average premiums in the non-group market would be roughly 20 percent lower in 2026 than under current law.

Some states will be able to obtain waivers under AHCA that will allow them to make regulatory changes involving “essential health benefits” (EHBs) and community rating. The populations of these states can also expect substantially lower premiums than they would otherwise be forced to pay. About half the population would enjoy less dramatic relative decreases because their states would be less likely to make regulatory changes. Even in those states, however, the public will be better off with AHCA than they would be under the yoke of Obamacare. This fact will eventually penetrate media propaganda about zillions “losing” their insurance.

Likewise, no amount of media mendacity will cover up the facts reported by the HHS concerning the eye-popping premium increases that Obamacare has wrought. Despite the curiously sparse coverage it received compared to the tsunami of “news” stories about CBO projections readily susceptible to misrepresentation, the HHS merely confirms what most American families already know. Very few will be surprised that, since the implementation of the “Affordable Care Act,” health insurance premiums have skyrocketed. Nonetheless, the HHS report lays out the grisly details so that no one can possibly misunderstand what has happened:

CMS MIDAS data show average exchange premiums were 105% higher in the 39 states using Healthcare.gov in 2017 than average individual market premiums in 2013. Average monthly premiums increased from $232 in 2013 to $476 in 2017, and 62% of those states had 2017 exchange premiums at least double the 2013 average… 20 states experienced premium increases between 105% and 200%, and 3 states saw premiums triple with increases of 200% or more.

In addition to increasing the disapprobation with which the public already views Obamacare, these appalling statistics will probably stiffen the spines of Senate Republicans as they decide what changes they will make to the AHCA. What they will not do, despite the timorous statements of some GOP Senators and the proclivity of the GOP to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, is ignore the voters. As Guy Benson pointed out in late April, “57% of Americans support full or partial repeal of Obamacare,” and the driving force behind this isn’t party or ideology. It’s really just an old-fashioned pocketbook issue. In the end, that will tell.

The Daily Signal reports that the people who matter in the upper chamber are talking about Obamacare repeal in terms of what it costs ordinary Americans. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a member of the Senate health care working group, is quoted thus: “We’re continuing to work on policy outcomes to bring the conference together, and most critically to lower health insurance premiums.” Utah Senator Mike Lee, also a member of the Senate health care working group, is similarly focused on premiums: “Every time I travel back to Utah I hear from constituents whose health insurance premiums are now higher than their mortgages. This has to stop.”

Media propaganda notwithstanding, the GOP will deliver on its promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, and the CBO analysis on AHCA helps rather than hinders that effort. An interesting fact associated with the report is that its composition was led by Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis Holly Harvey. As Phil Kerpen pointed out shortly after it was released, Harvey was once a member of the Hillarycare task force. That may well be a harbinger of Obamacare’s inevitable demise. Combined with the HHS report on skyrocketing premiums, Harvey’s CBO analysis has very likely sealed the fate of the Orwellian “Affordable Care Act.”

David Catron
David Catron
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David Catron is a health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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