My View: Sins in Obamacare war
February 13, 2014
Even after the web site was fixed and Pres. Obama apologized for misspeaking, , the GOP's war against Obamacare (ACA) rages on blithely spreading misinformation. While the GOP gleefully called the President a liar for promising those individually insured could keep their insurance if they liked it, the current Republican campaign against Obamacare is full of sins of omission and commission. It is the GOP's turn to apologize.
Mitch McConnell, GOP Senate Minority Leader, flat fibbed when he misrepresented a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). He wrongfully claimed it meant that 2.5 million jobs would be lost thanks to Obamacare. Jobs would not disappear, but the CBO estimated that 2.5 million who had jobs would leave of their own choice, but not by employers killing job positions. GOP ads are already promoting their twisted version of the CBO report.
Prior to Obamacare some were locked into their jobs because they needed employer provided insurance since that was the only way to get pre-existing conditions covered or to be able to afford coverage for their families. Obamacare frees them to retire early, start their own business, go part time, or stay home to care for their parents or young children.
The GOP countered that such choice is bad because it would encourage people to stop working, reduce the workforce, and thus harm the economy. The CBO report indeed predicted there would be workforce reduction by 2024 by 2.5 million. That is about 1.5 percent of the total workforce, not exactly earthshaking and not because Obamacare killed jobs.
A recent anti ACA ad omits so much information, it borders on deceptive advertising. Five million individually insured got letters from insurers discontinuing their substandard policies. To continue beating war drums that the President lied about their keeping insurance, an outside conservative group is running a commercial in our market that features a lupus sufferer who complains her $50 per month insurance now is $325, her deductibles are too high, she has to take on a second job, and she has to change doctors. She should be asked some hard questions. Did she apply for a subsidized health policy in the ACA exchanges? Was her annual income too high to qualify for a subsidy? What was her prior deductible with such low ball coverage of her old policy? The health care exchanges include a wide variety of insurance providers. Was her current physician participating in any of them? An estimated 60 percent of those receiving the letters can qualify for premium subsidies in the exchanges, or hardship exemptions, with access to better catastrophic insurance.
Some GOP senators are pitching a replacement to Obamacare that buries a critical downside in small print. Their proposal would relieve employers, health care and device providers, individuals, and insurers from mandates and being taxed or getting fines for not providing or getting insurance. Good for them but bad for most everyone else. It would replace the funding to subsidize premiums with raising taxes on the 60 percent of Americans who get insurance through employers. The plan would declare most health insurance benefits taxable income. Forbes estimated that would be a tax increase of $1345 a year for a family of four in the 25 percent bracket, http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2014/01/28. Families making between 300 percent to 400 percent above the poverty line would lose Obamacare insurance subsidies.
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