CEPR - Center for Economic and Policy Research


En Español

Em Português

Other Languages

Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Other World Of The Obamacare Opponents

The Other World Of The Obamacare Opponents

Friday, 24 January 2014 06:38

For all its many flaws Obamacare will prove to be a great thing for the simple reason that it will guarantee most of the population affordable health care insurance. The key group here is not the uninsured, many of whom will be able to get insurance as a result of the law, but rather the bulk of the under age 65 population whose insurance depends on their job. For the first time, these people will be in a situation where if they lose their job, they will still be able to get insurance they can afford. (Yes, I know that not everyone will find the insurance available through the exchanges affordable, hence the use of the word "most.")

Anyhow, it is fascinating to see the continuing vitriole of the right against Obamacare, which is bearing ever less relationship to reality. We have heard endless talk about how Obamacare was creating a "part-time nation" as employers reduced work hours to get under the 30-hour cutoff for employer sanctions under the ACA. This one suffers from the problem that there were fewer people reported as working part-time at the end of 2013 than at the end of 2012. (Some of us are fans of voluntary part-time employment.)

Ed Rogers, writing in the Washington Post, told readers that the number of uninsured was rising because Target had stopped offering insurance to part-time workers. (Apart from the limited impact of the insurance status of Target's part-time employees on national insurance rates, it is possible that Target stopped offering part-timers the option to buy into their insurance because few were taking it, given the expansion of Medicaid and the subsidies in the exchanges under the ACA.)

Wilson then linked to a "smart piece" by Megan McArdle which touted the imminent demise of Obamacare. Among the troubles of Obamacare cited by McArdle is that many of the people now signing up for Medicaid were already eligible before the ACA. This is an interesting claim, but so what if it is true? They previously had not been covered, now they are. And the problem is?

Another of the highlights is that the $2,500 in savings for a typical family has not materialized. Actually slower growth in health care costs have reduced spending by more than 10 percent compared to what was projected in 2008. That would translate into savings in the ballpark of $2,500 for a family of four. Clearly much of the slower cost growth was not due to the ACA, but does anyone doubt that if cost growth had accelerated it would be blamed on the ACA?

Anyhow, as the exchanges and Medicaid expansion become more a part of the health care framework, the ACA is going to gain increased acceptance even by Republicans, just as Medicare did. At some point, clever Republican politicians will recognize this fact and adjust their message to stay in line with their base. Meanwhile, the dead enders will get ever further removed from reality as they continue to push for the repeal of Obamacare.

Comments (10)Add Comment
Obamacare Meets the Godwin Law of Media Sock Puppets
written by Last Mover, January 24, 2014 6:58

The wailing and knashing of teeth over Obamacare behind the public circus created by media sock puppets is entirely different.

The primary political faction with donor class power is in strong support of Obamacare - the health care industrial complex itself.

The so called populist uprising against Obamacare for "forcing" itself onto the populace as an invasion of individual liberty is actually driven in a political battle behind the public scene over how to carve up the health care market among the economic predators who run the country.

The breaking point arrived for recarving after too many of the middle class were hitting bottom with exploding health care costs on top of everthing else. Obamacare was the most Obama could do given the foamy mouth opposition, spreading the benefits rather than reducing cost and market power.

The real agenda of the donor class marches on as the sock puppets spar with each other to decry what they actually support, speak for who actually sponsors them, embracing their economics while frothing at the mouth in a cultural sideshow.

Obamacare, meet Godwin's Law of the internet. It's guaranteed that within one minute of introduction by the opposition, a Hitler like reference will be dredged up to smear the expansion of health care made available to more people.

And the donor class will smile as the plan plays out as designed.

But Dean Baker is correct. It's enough to create a tipping point towards sanity of health care in America. It already has.
Some law of physics had to be broken
written by EMichael, January 24, 2014 7:36
"Wilson then linked to a "smart piece" by Megan McArdle"

This is impossible in an orderly universe.
written by Ryan, January 24, 2014 7:52
"Meanwhile, the dead enders will get ever further removed from reality as they continue to push for the repeal of Obamacare."

True, though that will have no positive effect on public discourse or policy. We're still told that deficits are crushing the middle class and that hyperinflation is just around the corner. Those who do not like the health law will give every appearance of supporting it in time, while undermining it when in power, just like so many other programs.
Not Your Style
written by leftover, January 24, 2014 7:55
The conscience laundering involving ObamaCare...exploiting limited benefit to rationalize continued detriment...does not become you. I find it inconsistent with your work as a whole. Comparing ObamaCare to the original Medicare is misleading. Republican politicians' acceptance of ObamaCare is not a good thing.

Instead of regurgitating talking points designed to manufacture consent for Bad Law, I would be more interested in why HR 676 can't get a CBO score, or what's wrong with Gerald Friedman's funding proposal.
Increased acceptance of undertreatment? Of market power and higher profits?
written by Rachel, January 24, 2014 8:31

"The integration of hospitals and physicians into the ACOs encouraged by the legislation is expected to accelerate provider consolidation... Indeed, hospitals are already consolidating with physicians at a fast clip, and many observers are asking whether this integration will give hospitals (and physicians) additional pricing power ..." Source: PNHP's official blog, James Robinson, UC Berkeley

Robinson goes on to provide more evidence that in fact "hosptials are able to extra higher payments when they hold more market power."

Now this may seem fairly obvious. But apparently it was not to the designers of the ACA. As a result. the ACA, which coerces payment, and denies various sensible options proposed by Dean Baker, will be doing its share to increase economic inequality. But of course that's in line with a long tradition in the world of American health policy.
"...if they lose their job, they will still be able to get insurance they can afford."
written by Bill H, January 24, 2014 8:54
That oft-repeated statement always cracks me up. If they have no job, where will they get the money, how ever little it may be, to pay for this affordable insurance? If Obamacare supporters were saying that "if they lose their job, they will still be able to get health care provided by the government at no cost," that would make sense.
written by TK421, January 24, 2014 9:35
Yes, some day the right wing will get behind this program to enrich insurance companies and stave off single-payer health care. After all, they invented it in the first place!
Plenty on the Left Think Obamacare is a Rip-Off
written by Ellis, January 24, 2014 12:11
Actually, Obamacare's real author is Liz Fowler, the former Vice President at Wellpoint, who was in charge of getting the bill written and through Congress and then went into the Obama administration to oversee its implementation. Fowler is now a top official at a small drug company called Johnson and Johnson.

This law is meant to funnel hundreds of billions of dollars from the pockets of consumers and taxpayers into the coffers of the medical industrial complex, while all these companies have every interest to bar the door to actual health care.

If someone making 24,000 a year gets sick or has an accident, they will have to fork over more than 20% of their gross income for actual treatment.

It's not affordable at all. And it's exactly why so few people are signing up for it. If it was really affordable, as people like Dean Baker say, people would be rushing to get it -- without having to resort to the government mandate and penalty.
What if more people were working part-time?
written by Mark Brucker, January 24, 2014 2:20
Would that be so bad if they had health insurance? Right now being part-time usually means no health insurance. It seems obvious that there aren't actually more part-time workers. What if there were? We'd presumably have fewer people totally unemployed. Some people might prefer part-time work. The people who are making these claims...I doubt they would care in the slightest if people were actually being pushed into part-time work by the ACA. But it might have at least some rather positive effects by lowering joblessness.
great, indeed
written by trish, January 25, 2014 3:44
"For all its many flaws Obamacare will prove to be a great thing..."

Really, Dean?? a great thing???

Obamacare essentially delivers Americans firmly into the clutches of insurance profiteers.
It's a gift, a handout, to corporate insurers and Big Pharma. Obama shilled for the insurance industry and we are now required to shell out to them.

And, given the corporate stranglehold on Washington, it makes going to a truly progressive single-payer system even MORE unlikely. ever.

great, indeed.

Write comment

(Only one link allowed per comment)

This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comments.


Support this blog, donate
Combined Federal Campaign #79613

About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.