“Spiking Healthcare Costs Under ACA Are A Myth,” GOP Candidates Should Stop Asserting Them

Fmr House Aging & Health Staff Chief Says Rise in Health Care Costs is Half of Pre-ACA

Former White House spokesman Robert Weiner and analyst Daniel Khan argue in a newly released article published in the Tallahassee Democrat, a highly regarded Florida paper, that the Affordable Care Act has not caused massive spikes in healthcare premiums.

In the article, “Spiking Health Care Costs Under ACA Is A Myth,” Weiner and Khan wrote, “One of the biggest issues in the presidential election is a recurring Republican critique of the Affordable Care Act: the supposedly massive healthcare price spikes. Frontrunner Donald Trump said, “I don’t know if you have been watching lately — people’s premiums are going up 35, 45, 55 percent.  Their deductibles are so high nobody’s ever going to get to use it.  Obamacare is turning out to be a bigger disaster than anybody thought.”

Weiner and Khan argued, “The results speak otherwise. President Obama said, “Contrary to some of the predictions of the naysayers, not only is the program working, but we’ve actually seen health care inflation lower than it’s been in 50 years.”

They pointed out, “It is true that employer-based insurance premiums increased 26% from 2009 to 2014, but prior to the passage of the ACA, they went up 34% from 2004 to 2009 and 72% from 1999 to 2004. So we are talking about half the increases compared to before the law.”

They stated, “Twenty million more Americans now have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, including nearly 8 million new Medicaid enrollees under Obamacare’s expansion, according to Obamcarefacts.com.”

Weiner and Khan indicated, “In addition, people will be living longer.  According to a Harvard School of Public Health study ofMassachusetts, ‘In each of the first four years of the state law, 320 fewer Massachusetts men and women died than would have been expected. That’s one life extended for every 830 newly insured residents.’ Another study, by the American Journal of Public Health, shows that nearly 45,000 people die every year due to a lack of health insurance.”

They noted, “Yet the literally sickening (potentially to millions) refrain persists, “Repeal and replace Obamacare.” The House has now voted to repeal it 63 time (but never with the replace part, since they’d actually use Obamacare provisions).”

They argued, “Even in Kentucky, with uninsured down to an all-time low 7.5 percent there, U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky, takes credit for the insurance expansion by his state—but refuses to publicly acknowledge it’s because of and under Obamacare. It’s as though it came rom the sky.”

They writers highlighted how “Florida’s great former congressman and senator, Claude Pepper, fought for national health insurance his whole life.  He would be incensed at the opponents of Obamacare for trying to block the coverage for millions who now have it.  Pepper, whose library and museum are at Florida State University in Tallahassee, said back in 1987, “What I’m talking about is a principle of insurance applied to health care. We insure our homes. We insure our businesses. Why can’t we insure something that’s even more important to us, our lives and our health?”

They showed how, “In 2013, Gov. Rick Scott, who knows health costs as a former hospital group administrator, was for Obamacare Medicaid expansion before he was against it.  He said, “While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians the needed access to health care.”  Then he lost that “good conscience” to politics. He reversed after his Republican legislature refused to allow it for fear of giving Obama credit for anything.”

Weiner and Khan point out, “According to HHS.gov, if Florida were to expand Medicaid, “an additional 848,000 uninsured people would gain coverage.”  Even without, under Obamacare’s marketplace, a Gallup poll confirmed that the “uninsured rate in Floridain 2014 was 18.3%, down from 22.1% in 2013.”

They go on, “Some people in some plans through some carriers in some states are, indeed, looking at rate hikes of ’35 to 50 percent’ if they stick with those plans,” said Charles Gaba, who runs the popular blog ACAsignups.net, which tracks Obamacare enrollment. But that is largely from lack of initiative.  The average is much lower.”

They explain, “Through healthcare.gov, customers can search for an array of plans based on their financial and health priorities.  Customers are able to switch plans, which enables them to save a lot of money.  According to the HHS, those who switched plans within the same metal tier (platinum, gold, silver, bronze) saved an average of nearly $400 on their 2015 annualized premiums after tax credits as compared to those who stayed in their same plans.”

In addition, they say, “According to HHS, about 8 out of 10 returning consumers will be able to buy a plan with premiums less than $100 dollars a month after tax credits; and about 7 out of 10 will have a plan available for less than $75 a month.”

Weiner and Khan concluded, “A smart consumer can both achieve health care coverage and save money, without succumbing to the naysayers who either have not done their homework comparing plans or, for political purposes, do not want to credit the President for a major achievement.”

Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the Clinton White House and was Chief of Staff of Cong. Claude Pepper’s (D-FL) House Aging Committee and Subcommittee on Health. Daniel Khan is senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.

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