Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Are Democrats heading for an October Surprise on Obamacare?

The above graph shows the impact of Obamacare after its first year and how well it did in solving one of the two biggest problems that healthcare reform was supposed to accomplish -- getting coverage for 50 million uninsured Americans.

The dark bars show the percentage of uninsured Americans by region before Obamacare in 2013, and the
the light blue shows the effect of Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act on the percentage of uninsured Americans after it's first year. As anyone can see, the reduction of uninsured Americans represented by the blue bars as a result of the ACA is nothing short of pathetic,  virtually insignificant everywhere except the south, where the number of uninsured has, instead of going down, actually skyrocketed. This is what the Obama administration and many in the media and Obama sycophants at sites like Daily Kos have been trying to pass off as success.

While Obama has taken a lot of deserved criticism over the last year for his spectacular display of weakness in foreign policy especially in Syria with Assad and Putin and Ukraine, and practically had to be shamed into taking stronger  action against Isis after doing nothing for 3 years rejecting the advice of his smartest advisors, his  first, biggest, most significant and perhaps most lasting display of weakness came on healthcare reform when he caved in to the insurance lobby who opposed the public option and dropped it, and in a cynical bait and switch gave the country Obamacare instead, a law essentially written by and for the health insurance industry themselves which he hoped would get the Republicans off his back.   Even though he had the votes in congress to pass the public option which the majority of Americans and the congress had wanted.

In 2010, once Obama signaled he would capitulate to the health insurance lobby and drop the public option  with a replacement bill  written by the health insurance lobby (see the Frontline documentary "Obama's Deal"),  I wrote a peice in August of 2010 that predicted that if Pelosi and Reid didn't take health care reform away from Obama and pass the public option anyway so that Obama was in the position of either signing it or vetoing it (which he couldn't do politically),  Democrats would get wiped out of congress in the 2010 elections. They didnt, and that is exactly what happened. 

And now both politically and as policy,  the Obama administration and some Democrats are trying to put lipstick on a pig when it comes to Obamcare.

When the insurance exchanges closed in March, the Obama Administration announced, crowed really, that 8 million people had bought insurance through the exchanges. Democrats were being urged by both Nancy Pelosi and Obama to run on Obamacare in November and some on the left , like many of the Obama sycophants at so called "progressive" web sites like Daily Kos, were and still are, gloating that Republican attacks on Obamacare have failed and will even backfire because of Obamacare's "success".

But despite dishonest statistics put out by the Obama administration that the news media and Obama supporters swallow whole, Obamacare has failed miserably in what healthcare reform was supposed to accomplish as the graph above proves. 

Obamacare failed completely to fix the two major issues healthcare reform was intended to fix --  getting coverage for the 50 million Americans who have no health care coverage,(which drives up the cost of healthcare for everyone)  based on the idea that healthcare should be a right not a privilige, and bringing down the insane, out of control costs of healthcare for Americans who did have coverage.

A year after Obamacare's implementation, with what even the White House conceded were unattractive low end health care plans that had high premiums and skimpy coverage, the percentage of the 50 million  uninsured Americans who recieved coverage through Obamacare was, according to the Gallup Well Point Well Being Index, 2.2%. That is what Obama and Obamacare sycophants are trying to call success.

That is a decrease of only 1.2 million out of 50 million. And most of those were in the older and sicker category. The remaining 48.8 million uninsured Americans looked at what was being offered by Obamacare and turned away, preferring, if that's what it comes to, to pay the penalty.

Since it might be fair to assume that most of the 50 million uninsured are potential Democratic voters, the fact that Obamacare has  done nothing for them doesn't bode well for any Democrat trying to run on Obamacare's virtues in November and who tries to call it a success.

With low end so called bronze and silver healthcare plans carrying premiums ranging as high as $600 a month for a single person in New York City,  rural Georgia and other markets with little competition that come with $6,000 deductibles and 40% co-pays, the vast majority of the 32 million younger, healthier uninsured also said no thanks, they'll take their chances.  Only 2.8%  of those 32 million, or less than 900,000 according to the Gallup Well Being Index, purchased policies in Obamacare's first year. And according to experts, signing up those 32 million is neccessary to keep premiums from skyrocketing for everyone else under the Affordable Care Act.

As for the 8 million claimed by the Obama administration as proof of Obamacare's success, that also is bogus. Even taking that number on its face, Obamacare  would be a failure. But that 8 million figure is far from real. That number was based on total applications submitted for health insurance not actual enrollments.

According to the insurance companies, about 20% of those applicants failed to send in their first month's premium invalidating their applications which brings the actual number down from 8 million to 6.4 million. But  it was also discovered that about 5% (possibly more)  filed multiple applications because of web site glitches bringing the total number down another 400,000 to 6 million or less. But wait, as they say in the telebrand commercials, there's more. Many applying for health insurance falsified their  income on applications to get insurance subsidies they didn't qualify for and are being rejected. That number is still being tabulated by the IRS, matching income reported on the insurance applications with filed tax returns,  but  it will certainly bring down the number of actual people getting insurance through Obamacare even further, perhaps to a little over 5 million. Substantially below even the original 7 million target which was in itself a ridiculous and politically motivated low ball standard much less the 8 million claimed.

Sometime in October the health insurance companies will announce their premiums for 2015. Some have already started. They will, naturally,  vary from state to state. But Obamacare apologists are already trying to trumpet an 8%  increase in premiums expected in many markets as proof of Obamacare's success in terms of slowing the increases in healthcare premiums which flies in the face of one of healthcare reform's primary goals  --  to bring down the cost of healthcare, not label as success the insane costs of health care getting more insane but at a slower rate.

Higher premiums by insurance companies, or to keep premiums stable, reducing the quality of coverage by increasing co-pays and out of pockets,  could cause any Democrat trying to run on Obamacare a  major problem. Especially since there is also talk that some markets could see increases in healthcare premiums by as much as 17%. Or more. Everyone will know by the end of October.

Since all politics are local, in districts that see significant increases in health care premiums or costs, Democrats who have been blindly supporting Obamacare could be in big trouble if they continue to call it a success since by any measure, Obamacare has been an abject failure compared to what the public option would have produced. And higher premiums could produce an October Surprise for Democrats they are unprepared for.

Not too long ago, Nancy Pelosi stood at a podium and reminded Democrats running in November that the first word in the Affordable Care Act was "affordable".  "Affordable, affordable, affordable" Pelosi repeated from the podium like a kindergarten teacher trying to drum a vocabulary lesson into the heads of five year olds. And she exorted Democrats to go back to their constituents and run on the success of Obamacare.  Except for the 48.8 million who still have no healthcare coverage because they still can't afford it, Pelosi sounded a lot more like Marie Antoinette than FDR.

So unless Democrats  running in November are willing to publicly admit Obamacare's failures and shortcomings and repudiate it (while still pointing out that Republicans opposed any healthcare reform at all),   and publicly pledge to revive the public option to replace it, they and the Democratic party might find that they can't afford Nancy Pelosi's idea of affordable either. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so close and yet so far, thanks to Obama