In an interview with CFIF, Jim Martin, Chairman of 60 Plus Association, discusses skyrocketing healthcare premiums, ObamaCare’s march toward full government control over our healthcare system, and the issue of physician and nursing shortages.
In an interview with CFIF, Sally Pipes, President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, discusses the latest bad news regarding ObamaCare premiums and options, what the presidential candidates propose we do about ObamaCare, and Representative Warren Davidson’s (R-OH) “Lead by Example Act,” which proposes lawmakers sign up for medical care exclusively through the VA.
As Barack Obama’s presidency sputters toward its end, there’s new bad news to report regarding his signature “achievement.”
As illustrated by an alarming new Gallup poll, ObamaCare has become a worsening disaster for Americans experiencing it personally. To be sure, ObamaCare has been a public disapproval disaster since its inception. But now, according to Gallup, a record number of Americans are reporting that it has personally worsened their healthcare:
Currently, 29% of Americans say Obamacare has hurt them and their family, up from 26% in May, and the highest Gallup has measured to date. Meanwhile, the percentage who say the ACA has helped their family dropped from 22% to 18%. The bulk of Americans, 51%, continue to say the law has ‘had no effect.’ As more provisions of the law have taken effect over the years, the ‘no effect’ percentage has dropped from the first reading of 70% in early 2012.”
Nancy Pelosi infamously claimed we must pass ObamaCare to find out what’s in it. Well, Americans are finding out what’s in it firsthand, and they’re liking it even less.
In his weekly address on June 6, 2009, Barack Obama promised, “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.”
Fast-forward to September 1, 2016, under The Wall Street Journal’sheadline “Insurers’ Offerings Dwindle”:
Under intense pressure to curb costs that have led to losses on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, insurers are accelerating their move toward plans that offer limited choices of doctors and hospitals.”
Most bizarre of all? ObamaCare’s failures are prompting more and more leftists to openly advocate a complete government takeover of the healthcare system and imposing a single-payer plan. In other words, we’ve gone from promises that choice in healthcare providers won’t be impacted by ObamaCare to open advocacy of a system with zero choice whatsoever. This is how liberalism works, a slow march to mass submission.
Barack Obama’s solemn assurances regarding ObamaCare, including “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” have been exposed as fraudulent. That’s a main reason why his main “legacy” has remained terribly unpopular since its inception.
Now, another alarming factor has been added to the miserable litany: Middle-class Americans have had the cost of it all increasingly heaped upon them. Since 2000, U.S. healthcare spending has jumped from 13.3% of our economy to 18.2% this year. The news gets worse for the middle class:
The government has taken on a larger share in recent years as more people age into Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act [ObamaCare] expanded Medicaid and provided subsidies for low-income people buying insurance on state exchanges. Middle-class households are finding more of their health-care costs are coming out of their own pockets. David Cutler, a Harvard health-care economist, said this may be ‘a story of three Americas.’ One group, the rich, can afford health care easily. The poor can access public assistance. But for lower middle- to middle-income Americans, ‘the income struggles and the health-care struggles together are a really potent issue,’ he said.” (emphasis added)
Overall, middle-income Americans’ healthcare spending is 25% higher than what it was in 2007. That means far less income to spend on other discretionary items, whether eating out, vacationing, clothing, automobiles, etc., and provides another clue as to what has made Obama’s tenure the worst stretch of economic growth in recorded U.S. history.
When even The New York Timesissues lamentations as the consequences of ObamaCare become more clear, it’s obvious that things aren’t going well:
Health spending grew faster than the economy in 2014, and the federal share of health spending grew even faster, as major provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect. Total spending on health care increased 5.3 percent last year, the biggest jump since 2007, and accounted for 17.5 percent of the nation’s economic output, up from 17.3 percent in 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services said in its annual report on spending trends.”
But not to worry. The Obama Administration assures us that things are fine:
The spending report comes as the Obama administration is already on the defensive over rising premiums and deductibles on insurance policies sold through the health law’s exchanges. Last month, United Health Group, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, significantly lowered its profit estimates and blamed the federal health care law. Obama Administration officials said Wednesday that the rise in health spending last year did not undermine their conviction that the Affordable Care Act had been a boon for the nation.”
Of course, this is the same administration that assured us just hours before the Paris terrorist attacks that ISIS is contained, not to mention that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, period.” Per Nancy Pelosi’s claim, we’re finding out what’s in ObamaCare, and the only question is whether this or the Iran nuclear accord – which we’re now told Iran didn’t even sign – will prove the worse of Obama’s two signature “achievements” as time progresses.
As ObamaCare enters the real world and departs Barack Obama’s “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” fantasy world, it is already proving a slow-motion disaster for Americans. This week, The Wall Street Journal featured a front-page article entitled “Rising Rates Pose Challenge for Health Law,” and the news is grim:
Insurers have raised premiums steeply for the most popular plans at the same time they have boosted out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles, copays and coinsurance in many of their offerings. The companies attribute the moves in part to the high cost of some customers they are gaining under the law, which doesn’t allow them to bar clients with existing health conditions. The result is that many people can’t avoid paying more for insurance in 2016 simply by shopping around – and those who try risk landing in a plan with fewer doctors and skimpier coverage.”
The report proceeds to describe the magnitude with greater specificity, and it is astonishing:
Premiums for individual plans offered by the dominant local insurers are rising almost everywhere for 2016, typically by double-digit percentage increases, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of plan data in 34 states where the Healthcare.gov site sells insurance. More than half of the midrange ’silver’ plans are boosting the out-of-pocket costs enrollees must pay, while more than 80% of the less-expensive ‘bronze’ plans are doing so.”
Meanwhile, a new Gallup survey released this week shows that the percentage of Americans rating their healthcare quality as excellent or good has plummeted from 62% in 2010 when ObamaCare was enacted to 53% now. The survey also reveals that the percentage who are satisfied with healthcare costs has actually declined from 26% in 2009 to 21% today.
As experience with ObamaCare increases with implementation, the situation promises to get worse by the day. Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi passed, now we’re staring at the reality of what was in it.
For some time now, Barack Obama and his apologists have trumpeted slowing healthcare costs as somehow attributable to ObamaCare. Never mind that the declines predated Obama’s election, and that even The Washington Post gave him three Pinocchios in its Fact Checker analysis of this claim on November 5 of last year:
Healthcare inflation has gone down every single year since the law [ObamaCare] passed, so that we now have the lowest increase in healthcare costs in 50 years – which is saving us about $180 billion in reduced overall costs to the federal government and in the Medicare program.”
To illustrate how he played the role of rooster taking credit for the sunrise, healthcare cost inflation reached 7% in 2003, but plummeted to approximately 2% before Obama even took office.
Growth in national health spending, which had dropped to historic lows in recent years, has snapped back and is set to continue at a faster pace over the next decade, federal actuaries said Tuesday… The jump comes after five consecutive years of average spending growth of less than 4% annually – a rate touted by the Obama Administration as the lowest since the government began tracking health spending in the 1960s and a sign that the health law’s Medicare provisions were helping rein in health costs.”
Chalk up yet another failure of ObamaCare, which helps explain why it remains so unpopular among Americans as we “find out what’s in it” in the words of Nancy Pelosi.
A revealing commentary this week in The Wall Street Journal on reduced competition and insurance industry consolidation under ObamaCare coincides in an interesting manner with a new Gallup poll showing very low public confidence in big business.
In “How the Affordable Care Act Is Reducing Competition,” physician and American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident fellow Scott Gottlieb lays out how ObamaCare by design requires industry consolidation to accommodate its massive regulatory burdens and higher operating costs:
To sustain themselves, insurers must spread fixed costs over a larger base of members. The bigger they are, the easier it is to meet the government-imposed cap on their operating costs while cutting their way to profitability. This pressure discourages new health plans from launching. Startups often must channel more money into initial operating expenses. But the caps largely prevent this, so the market stagnates… ObamaCare’s architects saw these trends coming – and welcomed them. They mistakenly believed that consolidation would be good for patients, on the theory that larger companies would have more capital to invest in innovations that are thought to improve coordination of medical care, such as electronic health records, integrated teams of medical providers and telemedicine.
This was a profound miscalculation. The truth is that the greatest innovations in healthcare delivery haven’t come from federally contrived oligopolies or enormous hospital chains. Novel concepts – whether practice-management companies, home healthcare or the first for-profit HMO – almost always have come from entrepreneurial firms, often backed by venture capital. That venture capital has been drying up since ObamaCare was passed.”
Meanwhile, a new Gallup survey reveals that is precisely the sort of big-business favoritism that Americans distrust:
Americans are more than three times as likely to express confidence in small business as they are in big business. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. adults report having a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of confidence in small business, far eclipsing the 21% who are similarly confident in big business. Confidence in small business is up slightly from last year’s 62%, while confidence in big business is unchanged.”
This helps explain why, despite Barack Obama’s ongoing protestations and false assurances, the healthcare law bearing his name remains widely unpopular with Americans it affects. Each week brings a fresh wave of bad news about ObamaCare, such as this week’s news of skyrocketing costs unanticipated only by those who supported the law. Its unpopularity, along with the unpopularity of big government and big business more generally, provide optimism that Americans remain open to conservative and libertarian efforts toward replacement and reform.
Ashton Ellis, CFIF Contributing Editor, discusses what Congress should do if the Supreme Court strikes down ObamaCare subsidies for health insurance purchased on exchanges set up by the federal government, why some Americans had to pay back the IRS for ObamaCare subsidies, and the negative implications of ObamaCare across the nation.
A new report says that the number of Americans who are ‘underinsured’ is 31 million people – double the figure from 2003.
Being underinsured means that a person has access to health insurance, but doesn’t use it to get healthy because the cost is too high.
ObamaCare – with the popularity of its high deductible insurance plans – may make the problem worse.
“The steady growth in the proliferation and size of deductibles threatens to increase underinsurance in the years ahead,” says the Commonwealth Fund report.
“People who have high deductibles do tend to skimp on healthcare,” Sara Collins, the study’s lead author, said to reporters.
That’s because a trip to the doctor’s office can generate thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses before the insurance company contributes a penny.
The Obama administration has claimed a lot of credit for lowering the uninsured population, but has been unsurprisingly mum about the uptick in the number of underinsured Americans. If this trend continues, millions of people will be forced to pay for a financial product they cannot afford to use, but dare not risk going without since the IRS has the power to penalize.
That sounds like a policy opportunity conservatives would do well to exploit.
In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino demands accountability for the apparent fraud that took place enabling Members of Congress and their staff to circumvent clear rules under ObamaCare in order to keep their taxpayer-subsidized health insurance.
The medical device tax levies a 2.3 percent fee on medical devices, and is credited with causing increased prices and a decline in jobs within the manufacturing industry. Much of the Democratic support for repeal comes from members representing states with large device making companies in Minnesota and Indiana.
In a divided Congress, repealing the medical device tax may be the best way demonstrate bipartisan opposition to ObamaCare. Last year, 79 Senators voted to repeal this tax though then Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) refused to bring it to a floor vote. With Republicans in control of the chamber, a vote is likely to occur.
Even if President Barack Obama vetoes the measure – which the White House has promised he will do unless Congress imposes another tax to offset the revenue loss – the mounting pressure to get rid of the medical device tax indicates that there are political victories to be had, if congressional leaders will push for them.
Add Hawaii to the growing list of states that can’t afford to continue funding their financially unsustainable ObamaCare exchange.
“The state’s exchange is drowning in their own debt and is set to shut down by September 30,” writes Kristina Ribali of the Foundation for Government Accountability. “Administrators had been hoping to get a funding boost from state lawmakers, during their current legislative session, but that will not happen.”
Hawaii’s death spiral became clear in January when the federal government notified the state that it was out of compliance with ObamaCare’s performance benchmarks. By this year state exchanges have to prove their long term financial viability, and their IT systems must be integrated with the Medicaid database. The latter requirement ensures that applicants are correctly channeled to the appropriate government assistance program.
Hawaii – like Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont – isn’t generating enough revenue in enrollment fees to make its exchange solvent. Its failure to integrate IT systems is likely the final blow before the state hands over its exchange function to Healthcare.gov, the federal counterpart.
Like the other states just mentioned, Hawaii’s ObamaCare exchange failure has been expensive: $204.3 million.