Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Early report card on Obamacare looking good

I remember back in 2010 arguing with both Democrats and Republicans about the importance of Obamacare. One of the things I heard all the time is that the President took his eye off the ball on the economy in order to pass health care reform - and lots of folks thought that was a big mistake. But take a look at what the President said in his speech to Congress about the need for health care reform in September 2009:
We spend one and a half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren't any healthier for it. This is one of the reasons that insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages. It's why so many employers -- especially small businesses -- are forcing their employees to pay more for insurance, or are dropping their coverage entirely. It's why so many aspiring entrepreneurs cannot afford to open a business in the first place, and why American businesses that compete internationally -- like our automakers -- are at a huge disadvantage. And it's why those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it -- about $1,000 per year that pays for somebody else's emergency room and charitable care.

Finally, our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close. Nothing else.
In other words...he was saying that HEALTH CARE IS AN ECONOMIC ISSUE. And as is often the case, as the long game on Obamacare comes into view, we're beginning to see how true that is. For example:
  • Contrary to what Republicans want to believe, the Congressional Budget Office continues to report that repealing Obamacare would add to the deficit by $109 billion over 10 years. 
  • As we've seen in both Oregon and California, states that are responsibly planning exchanges are seeing significantly lower premium rates than were expected.
As a matter of fact, the news on that last bullet point was so good that it forced Rick Unger - one of the biggest supporters of Obamacare - to admit even he was wrong in his predictions about rates on the exchanges. As so he has a little advice for the naysayers.
If you are among the many Americans who have bought into the fear and loathing that has been the campaign against Obamacare, you just might wish to reconsider. With every passing day, the various myths, legends and lies put forward by those with a political axe to grind, TV or radio rating to be raised or vote to be purchased, are falling victim to the facts.

Of course, if you continue to find it more useful to hate the Affordable Care Act than to recognize the benefit of what this program offers to you and your family, nothing I can say is likely to change your mind.

But, accept it or not, the reality is that the early report card on Obamacare—at least in those states willing to give the law a chance to succeed—is looking pretty darn good.
What we have yet to see is all the people who will be willing to take the risk to leave their job and start a new business because they won't have to worry about loosing their health care, or the union contract negotiations that can better balance wage increases with benefits, or the people who can retire - knowing their health care is secure - and leave their job to younger folks entering the work force. So in addition to the security of having health care and the reductions in our federal budget, Obamacare just might wind up packing a pretty good economic stimulus punch as well.

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