The Nine Lies of Obamacare
On Wednesday, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) responded to a Democrat hearing called “The Trump Administration’s Attack on the ACA,” during which he recounted what he called the “Nine Lies of Obamacare”
“How can you undermine something that’s already failed,” Rep. Jordan asked. Which is exactly the right question that needs to be asked. I’ve laid out Jordan’s nine lies of Obamacare below, and actually combined a few and added some of my own.
1. If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you can keep it.
As Barack Obama tried to sell Obamacare to the American people, there were lots of Americans who were happy enough with their health insurance that the idea of a big change was unsettling. To mollify these concerns, Obama repeatedly and unequivocally claimed that if you already had health insurance then nothing would change for you. “First of all, if you've got health insurance, you like your doctor, you like your plan -- you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”
This wasn’t something he said only once, he repeatedly made this argument:
Of course the claim was a total lie. CNN fact-checked the specific claim about being able to keep your doctor and their verdict came back “False.”
As for whether you could keep your plan, this lie was so egregious that the left-wing fact-checking site PolitiFact called "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it" their 2013 Lie of the Year.
2. Premiums would go down on average $2,500
His specific language varied on the stump, but Obama promised that his health care plan would reduce premiums “up to $2,500 a year per family” or “an average of $2,500 a year per family.”
Whichever version you want to go by, it was still a big fat lie.
According to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, “In 2013, the average annual cost of a premium for an individual health care plan was $2,784. By 2017, the average annual cost for a premium for an individual health care plan on HealthCare.gov was $5,712. Thirty-nine states use HealthCare.gov.” In 24 states, premiums doubled, and three states had premiums triple over four years.
3. Deductibles would go down
Obamacare didn’t just make it harder for Americans to afford insurance coverage, but if you actually used your insurance, it would cost you more, as deductibles skyrocketed as a result of the law. CNBC reported in October 2016 that “Deductibles for individuals enrolled in the lowest-priced Obamacare health plans will average more than $6,000 in 2017, the first time that threshold has been cracked in the three years that Affordable Care Act marketplaces have been in business, a new analysis finds.” According to the study, families enrolled in bronze plans (the cheapest plans) would have an average deductible of $12,393.”
4. Healthcare.gov would work and be secure
Who can forget the failed launch of Healthcare.gov, the enormously expensive insurance exchange website created under Obamacare? When Obamacare officially launched on October 1, 2013, millions of Americans who had received notices they had lost the healthcare plans they’d been promised they could keep, flocked to the website to shop for a new healthcare plan. Well, at least they tried. There were software problems and massive system failures. Only six people managed to successfully sign up for Obamacare on launch day, and less than half of one percent of visitors to Healthcare.gov were able to enroll in the first week.
Not only did the site not work when it was supposed to, it was also terribly insecure. Security experts warned about the site’s vulnerabilities in 2013, but the Obama administration did not fix the problems. In January 2014, a hacker was able to access 70,000 records in four minutes.
5. Co-ops were wonderful.
An obscure provision in Obamacare allocated $2.4 billion in taxpayer-funded, tax-free loans to establish twenty-three Obamacare co-ops nationwide to compete with private health insurance providers. The Obama administration approved each loan, but if you think the administration responsible for Solyndra did any better in establishing healthcare co-ops, you were wrong. By January 2018, only four Obamacare co-ops remained in business.
6. Not a tax, it is a tax.
A key feature of Obamacare was the individual mandate. If you didn’t buy health insurance you had to pay a penalty for that right. Barack Obama insisted, however, that this mandate was not a tax. “For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” Obama told George Stephanopoulos in September 2009. Well, according to the Supreme Court, it was, and its alleged constitutionality was based entirely upon it being a tax.
7. It would be transparent.
When you talk about a government takeover of healthcare, you will make all sorts of promises to put people’s minds at ease about such big changes. The size and diversity of the country merited a judicious process that was both transparent and unrushed. Obama promised such a process, even pledging to broadcast the final negotiations live on C-SPAN. Well, he didn’t. Democrats were intent on fast-tracking Obamacare and negotiations were held in secret behind closed doors, and much of Obamacare was written after the legislation was passed and signed via regulations without the consent of Congress.
8. It wouldn’t fund abortions.
When Obamacare was passed, Democrats had large majorities in both Houses of Congress… but getting everyone on board was a challenge. The last holdout after a number of corrupt deals were made was the small coalition of pro-life Democrats, led by former congressman Bart Stupak. His coalition would not support Obamacare while it contained language allowing for taxpayer-funded abortion medications under the law. Stupak negotiated with Obama, and Obama promised to issue an executive order that would effectively ban public funding of abortions in Obama’s healthcare law. Without this compromise, Obamacare would have never passed the House of Representatives. When it came time for Obama to deliver on his promise, he didn’t. Final regulations for Obamacare actually required coverage of abortion-inducing medications. Bart Stupak was understandably furious: “I am perplexed and disappointed that, having negotiated the Executive Order with the president, not only does the HHS mandate violate the Executive Order but it also violates statutory law.” He should have known better than to trust Obama.
9. Obamacare worked.
Obamacare proponents typically point to enrollment figures as proof that Obamacare worked. While it’s easy to understand that when you require people to buy health insurance the number of people enrolled in a plan will go up. But, as I’ve already noted, premiums and deductibles went up, so the fundamental question isn’t “did more people get covered?” it’s “did more people get access to affordable care?” The short answer is no. People are paying higher premiums and higher deductibles, which actually made healthcare less accessible to Americans.
According to a December 2018 Gallup survey, nearly a third of Americans (29 percent) delay health care decisions over costs. This number “is consistent with the rate seen each year since 2005 but is up from an average 24% in the four years prior to that -- from 2001-2004 -- and from 22% in 1991.” In other words, the number of people who can’t afford medical care was lower before Obama and the passage of Obamacare than after. If Obamacare didn’t decrease the number of people putting off healthcare over cost concerns, then what was the point of it? Clearly, Obamacare did not work as it was promised.
Matt Margolis is the author of the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama's Legacy, will be published on July 30, 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis