I haven’t seen this much evasion, parsing and dissembling since Bill Clinton gave the “what the meaning of ‘is’ is” deposition.
Every item the Times lists an Obamacare “success”, it is undercut in their own words. I guess it depends on what your definition of success is…it is all so very Clintonian.
1. Has the percentage of uninsured people been reduced?
Well, sort of – but how? Mostly though the expansion of a federal funded state administered program – Medicaid:
“But a few trends are clear. Most notably, Medicaid expansion really mattered. States that expanded their programs saw a substantially larger reduction in their uninsured population than states that did not expand.”
How is this a success for Obamacare other than it was something that was required in the law that could have been done by a simple act of Congress without all the other chicanery and sleight of hand designed to push us all to single-payer?
2. Has insurance under the law been affordable?
Again, sort of – but how? Though federal subsidies. The law didn’t do anything to make the actual premiums more affordable, they just subsidized the premiums with other people’s money:
“Eighty-five percent of those who signed up during the enrollment period qualified for federal subsidies to help pay premiums. For those who qualified for subsidies through the federal exchange, the subsidies lowered the cost by 76 percent on average, according to the Obama administration.”
And even with subsidies, even “affordability” seems to be a malleable concept due to astronomical deductibles:
“But for some consumers who bought plans with affordable premiums, high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs have discouraged them from seeking care.”
3. Did the Affordable Care Act improve health outcomes?
We don’t really know:
“A year later, most experts say it is too soon to tell whether the ability of more people to get mammograms, colonoscopies or just routine checkups will, as President Obama and other supporters promised, eventually prevent chronic diseases in many more people.
But some early data suggests that in one population, young people, the law is having a positive impact.”
But that doesn’t stop the Times from giving credit to the law for “excellent health” of a group that is traditionally in “excellent health”:
“Most striking, however, was the effect on young college graduates. They were far more likely to report excellent health (an important indicator of future sickness and mortality, experts say), to have a primary care doctor, and to go to the doctor regularly than before the law.”
Never mind that in prior economies, these young college graduates would have been getting insurance through their jobs.
4. Will the online exchanges work better this year than last?
Maybe. But how could they not after billions of taxpayer dollars were spent on them.
5. Has the health care industry been helped or hurt by the law?
Maybe, maybe not.
“Health care accounts for roughly $3 trillion in spending in the United States so it is difficult to tease out the law’s impact. The online exchanges have also been open for only a year. But analysts and policy experts who watch the industry closely agree that in the first year, the nation’s health care system mostly benefited from the law, which brought new customers to insurers, new paying patients to hospitals and new prescription users to the pharmaceutical industry.”
And it has brought guaranteed subsidies from the taxpayer as well.
6. How has the expansion of Medicaid fared?
Yay! Finally a success!
But honestly – how could a program that is free to the people using it fail?
Really…this is an entitlement and it is like Reagan said of government agencies – they are the closest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this planet.
7. Has the law contributed to a slowdown in health care spending?
No. Maybe. Really, it didn’t.
“But it is hard to make a case that the Affordable Care Act deserves substantial credit for the recent trend — though it may be helping to nudge it along. The spending slowdown began before the law was even written. The major provisions of the law intended to slow down spending growth have mostly come in the form of small-scale experiments, and studies of those programs have shown mixed results.”
So, some “maybes”, a few “can’t tell’s” and some outright “noes”. Not really a recipe for success is it?