ObamaCare repeal — don’t fall for the myths

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President Obama is mocking Republicans for making repeal of his health law their holy grail, asking, “What happens to those 20 million people who have health insurance? Are you going to just kick them off … ?”

Obama and supporters are sowing panic in a last-ditch effort to prevent repeal.

The truth is, the country has nothing to fear from repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Ten times as many people are being hurt as helped by it.

Here are a few ObamaCare myths:

1. Approximately 20 million to 22 million people will lose coverage 

No way. Sixteen million of those who gained coverage are enrolled in Medicaid, the public program for low-income residents. ObamaCare allowed states to expand who could sign up for Medicaid, with the federal government covering the tab. Repeal could result in less federal funding. But no one is pushing to abolish the nation’s health safety net. And states that just expanded Medicaid are unlikely to do a 180 and shrink it. The 16 million are likely safe.

President-elect Donald Trump and other Republicans do propose giving states more flexibility in how Medicaid is run and who’s eligible, which is needed. Federal Medicaid spending has shot up 40 percent in the last three years under the ACA, and research shows all that extra spending is not improving the health of Medicaid patients.

What about the other five million or so newly insured?  They’re in ObamaCare plans, along with 6 million other people who already had insurance, and all of them are having a tough time. Technically they’re “covered” but many can’t come up with the cash to see a doctor. It’s true that four out of every five enrollees are getting taxpayer subsidies, but they’re still struggling with exorbitant deductibles — $6,000 per person for the typical bronze plan — and ever rising premiums.

In short, about five million previously uninsured people — not the bogus 20 million — may need help when the law is repealed and replaced.  But they may actually benefit from what’s ahead.  The individual insurance market has for years been dysfunctional and unaffordable in many states, and Trump is proposing market reforms to lower costs and increase choices for consumers stuck in this market

2. People with pre-existing conditions will be in trouble

Untrue. All the GOP replacement plans protect them, but not through the cynical, coercive scheme that the ObamaCare architects used.

Obama forced two groups of people into the same insurance pool: the healthy and the chronically ill. Healthy people would pay premiums but never meet their sky-high deductibles. Instead the premiums extorted from them would be used to cover huge medical bills for the chronically ill, who consume 10 times as much medical care as a healthy person.
ObamaCare plans only work for people who get a totally free ride and for the very sick. Healthy people could see it was a scam. They refused to sign up, despite the penalty for staying uninsured

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a chief architect of the scheme, insists that repealing the penalty is a mistake. “The public, of course, would like their cake and eat it, too,” he argues.  But to cover people with pre-existing conditions, “you have to have a mandate.”

Wrong, doc. There’s a fairer way. Trump and other Republicans would allow insurers to charge chronically ill people more, than subsidize these “high risk” customers with taxpayer dollars. That spreads the cost fairly over everyone in the nation, instead of putting the entire burden on the few people in the individual market.
Voila, premiums and deductibles will come down fast for individual insurance buyers.
3. ObamaCare didn’t hurt anyone

President Obama was incredulous that anyone would think his health law “doesn’t work.”  But more than 200 million people have been clobbered by it.

Start with the 11 million or so who refused to buy ObamaCare. These refuseniks are getting slapped with an average annual penalty of $969 per adult and half that for each child in 2016.

Now add the 155 million people who get their insurance through an employer. They’ve seen their deductibles go through the roof since 2011 — up a staggering  49 percent — because of the ACA. The law hit employers with a slew of new taxes and forced them to provide a one-size-fits all benefits package costing much more than pre-ObamaCare coverage. Employers offset these costs by raising deductibles and reducing family coverage. Ouch.

For anyone job hunting or needing more hours at work, repeal will be good news too. Part-time workers have had their hours cut because ObamaCare requires employers to provide insurance for anyone working over 30 hours a week. Repeal will also juice the job market. Currently in New York 17 percent of service companies are capping their workforces at 50 to dodge the employer mandate, according to the New York Federal Reserve.

The 55 million seniors on Medicare have everything to gain from repeal. Medicare funding cuts paid for over half the cost of ObamaCare. The Obama administration rewarded  hospitals that spent the least per senior. The result was skimpy care. In some hospitals, seniors having heart attacks were forced to wait so long for angioplasties that they died before getting the procedure

Candidate Donald Trump promised he would repeal and replace the health law, turning the election into a referendum on ObamaCare. Congress should heed the voters’ decision and ignore the fear mongers.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and author of “Beating Obamacare.”

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