President Obama in his speech at the Catholic Health Association hailed his signature achievement, Obamacare as a success. He said that under the law more people are covered, the uninsured rate is down and there is no more discrimination based on preexisting conditions as evidence the law is working. The President also made it a point to say that the worst predictions made by Republicans regarding the law have not come true. Simon Maloy writing at Salon.com says that the speech was meant to preempt the Supreme Courts decision in King v Burwell and paint Republican efforts to reform the law as disruptive. He says the President makes the case that Obamacare is the new normal, that people are now dependent on the law and it would be wrong to change it.
The Presidents defense of the law and his attempt to create a narrative where Republicans are disruptive of Americans lives leaves out vital details. For example, when he declares that more people have coverage while being technically true doesn’t tell the whole story. According to Gallup the uninsured rate went down most among low income Americans and Hispanics. It is disingenuous to say that these people have access to healthcare because of Obamacare when they already had access through Medicaid. The President also left out the fact that almost 5 million people lost their insurance because of his law, something he promised us wouldn’t happen. These people then had to buy an approved plan that many times had higher premiums and deductibles. The fact that more people have insurance doesn’t imply access to good health care as the President would like is to deduce. ER visits have spiked under Obamacare as well as the closings of rural hospitals. Access to primary care Doctors and specialists has also gone down.
Finally the President cited as a success the fact that people can buy health insurance despite preexisting conditions. The reality though is that this had been Federal law since 1996 with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This is really a straw man argument any way. The purpose of insurance is to Insure against future expenses not on known expenses. When Obama says that insurance companies should have to pay for people who already sick that is akin to allowing someone to buy car insurance after getting into a wreck.
The President also said that the worst predictions by Republicans about the law haven’t come true. Some of these predictions include the rationing of care, death panels and skyrocketing premiums that will lead to the collapse of the insurance industry. When making these predictions, Republicans weren’t saying they would come true the day after the law came into effect. They made these predictions based on the outcomes of similar systems around the world and the fact that our population is aging and there aren’t enough healthy people contributing to the system. So while Obama can today say these things aren’t happening, 30 years from now we will be grappling with the very issues Republicans warned about today.
Maloy says the President is setting the narrative that Republicans will be disrupting people’s lives if the Supreme Court rules against the administration on Obamacare subsidies. However Any disruption won’t be as severe as the restructuring of one fifth of the U.S. Economy and the thousands of exemptions and dozens of revisions and delays that is Obamacare. I am almost positive Maloy wasn’t warning of any disruptions 5 years ago. The blame for any disruption should be laid directly at the door of the Administration. They are the ones who wrote the law in such a way as to punish States for not creating their own exchanges. This, as we know from the Laws Architect was done intentionally to force Republicans to comply or lose funding. Democrats in Congress are also to blame for passing the law to find out what was in it as Pelosi told us we needed to do.
When the Supreme Court rules against the subsidies, as they must according to the text of the law, Republicans will then have a chance to reform Obamacare. Republicans will be fixing a five year disruption to Americans lives with their reforms. It will be up to the President to stand aside and let them do it.