7 Key Promises Obamacare Broke
Thursday is the seventh anniversary of Obamacare, so naturally Barack Obama decided to release a statement defending his law:
OBAMA statement on the 7th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act pic.twitter.com/eeKXXwWpIp— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) March 23, 2017
Obama's statement featured the usual lies and spin that were habitual during his presidency, but it's also important to realize that Obamacare broke a lot of key promises that Obama made on the campaign trail and throughout his presidency. Here are seven of them:
The Affordable Care Act tried to allow existing health plans to continue under a complicated process called "grandfathering," which basically said insurance companies could keep selling plans if they followed certain rules.
The problem for insurers was that the Obamacare rules were strict. If the plans deviated even a little, they would lose their grandfathered status. In practice, that meant insurers canceled plans that didn’t meet new standards.
Obama’s team seemed to understand that likelihood. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the grandfathering rules in June 2010 and acknowledged that some plans would go away. Yet Obama repeated "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it" when seeking re-election last year.
In other words, Obamacare's mandates and regulations caused insurance plans to cover benefits that a lot of people didn't want or need, contributing to the rise in premiums while pushing people off their insurance and onto Medicaid or the nightmare that is the Obamacare exchanges.
2. "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." Just like his broken promise about being able to keep their insurance plans, this was a lie that Obama repeated numerous times:
It goes without saying that when people lose their insurance, they likely lose their doctor as well. Even the Obamacare website scrubbed any reference to the lie about being able to keep your doctor.
3. Obama promised repeatedly that premiums would decline by $2,500 per year under Obamacare.
The opposite has happened, as premiums have skyrocketed under Obamacare.
4. Obama claimed that Obamacare wouldn't worsen the deficit. "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits," Obama lied in his 2009 State of the Union address.
The Daily Wire has previously reported that Obamacare will "result in trillion-dollar deficits in seven years' time" and that the "Congressional Budget Office warned that the debt could be as high as $30 trillion by 2030, with Obamacare being one of the driving factors behind that increase."
5. Obama pledged not to raise taxes on middle class families. "I can make a firm pledge," Obama said on the campaign trail in 2008. "Under my plan no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."
Obamacare easily broke this pledge; in 2014 Americans for Tax Reform noted that these five Obamacare taxes would harm the middle class the most:
- Putting a cap of $2,500 on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs).
- Increasing the tax-deductible threshold for high medical costs from 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income to 10 percent of adjusted gross income.
- Preventing Americans from using money saved in FSAs or Health-Savings Accounts (HSAs) toward "over-the-counter medicines."
- The individual mandate.
- A ten percent tax on using indoor tanning services.
6. Obamacare was sold as a plan to reduce emergency room visits. PolitiFact examined Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's statement that the American people were told that Obamacare would reduce emergency room visits, but Obamacare "did just the opposite." The leftist "fact-checker" quoted Obama asserting at a 2009 town hall that "one of the areas where we can potentially see some saving is" through "reducing the amount of emergency room care." A more definitive statement from Obama saying that emergency room visits would decline under Obamacare came from a September 2010 question and answer session:
And by the way, that should save us all a lot of money. I mean, one of the toughest things about this health care debate was--and sometimes I fault myself for not having been able to make the case more clearly to the country--we spend--each of us who have health insurance spend about a thousand dollars of our premiums on somebody else's care.
What happens is, you don't have health insurance, you go to the emergency room. You weren't getting a checkup; something that might have been curable with some antibiotics isn't caught. By the time you get to the hospital, it's much more expensive. The hospital cares for you because doctors and nurses, they don't want to just turn somebody away. But they've got to figure out how do they keep their doors open if they're treating all these people coming into the emergency room.
Well, what they do is they essentially pass on those costs in the form of higher premiums to the people who do have health insurance. And so we are already providing these subsidies, but it's the most inefficient possible subsidy we could provide. We're a lot better off if we are making sure that everybody is getting preventive care, we're encouraging wellness programs where people have access to doctors up front.
And that's why we feel pretty confident that over the long term, as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act, premiums are going to be lower than they would be otherwise; health care costs overall are going to be lower than they would be otherwise. And that means, by the way, that the deficit is going to be lower than it would be otherwise.
Even PolitiFact had to admit that there was no evidence that Obamacare reduced emergency room visits; studies and surveys clearly showed either little change or an increase in emergency room visits under Obamacare:
• May 2015: A survey of more than 2,000 emergency-room physicians by the American College of Emergency Physicians asked whether the volume of patients in their emergency room had dropped or risen after the law took effect. The results: 28 percent said it had "increased greatly" and 47 percent said it had "increased slightly." Combined, that means three-quarters of emergency room doctors saw an increase.
• February 2016: A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the change in emergency room use between 2013 (which was largely before the law) and 2014 (which was largely after the law took effect). "ER use overall has not changed significantly after the first full year of ACA implementation," the report concludes.
• August 2016: A study in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine looked at emergency room use in Illinois by adults between 2011 and 2015, separating out patterns of visits before and after the law took effect. The study found that emergency room visits in the state "increased after ACA health insurance expansion. ... A large post-ACA increase in Medicaid visits and a modest increase in privately insured visits outpaced a large reduction in (emergency room) visits by uninsured patients."
PolitiFact rated Price's statement as "Mostly True" because he "overstated the case slightly, but he's basically correct," which makes no sense – if "he's basically correct," then Price should have received a "True" rating.
7. Obamacare's exchanges were sold as being a competitive marketplace. "We'll do this by creating a new insurance exchange — a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at a competitive price," Obama said in September 2009. "Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers."
But as the Daily Wire has previously written:
Seven states have only one insurer providing insurance through Obamacare due to the fact that major insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare and Aetna are all leaving the exchanges because of unsustainability. As a result, there has been less competition throughout the Obamacare exchanges, contributing to the rise of premiums and deductibles and less consumer choice.
On the seventh anniversary on Obamacare, remember that these broken promises are a reflection of the disaster that the law has brought to the healthcare sector and the lives of millions of Americans. It also further underscores the need for full repeal; anything less would be failure.