The Washington Post

Obamacare numbers - still rotten after all these years

The Post reports: “President Obama’s signature health-care initiative will cost a bit less than expected as a result of last month’s Supreme Court ruling, but the decision is also likely to leave millions more people without access to insurance, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.”

The CBO, however, has no real methodology for determining how many states with take up Chief Justice John Roberts’s newly created opt-out for Medicaid expansion. So it guessed.

Moreover, as Yuval Levin explained, it did not consider the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling that emphasized people can just pay the tax to get out of paying for expensive insurance:

So as reinterpreted by the Court, the mandate is not “a provision requiring most individuals to obtain insurance coverage or pay a penalty tax” but is rather just a tax. By the CBO’s own prior reckoning, the fact of the requirement was a significant driver of compliance, so if it’s not a requirement then compliance would be diminished. The agency’s health-care analysts were aware of the problem in the course of this re-scoring, but in the end evidently decided they would do best to pretend it did not exist and report no significant effect on compliance.

Moreover, Levin reminds us: “Today’s CBO report projects that Obamacare with the individual mandate (or tax, or whatever) would leave 30 million Americans uninsured — more than the number that Obama was told the law would leave uninsured without the mandate, and which he considered so appalling as to justify a move that he believed risked a constitutional challenge (and which indeed resulted in one).”

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was more blunt:

“The Congressional Budget Office reported today that the Affordable Care Act imposes a $1 trillion tax increase and continues to raid Medicare by over $700 billion to fuel a new $1.7 trillion open-ended entitlement, while doing nothing to reduce the backbreaking health care costs for families and businesses. In fact, CBO reported that health insurance premiums will actually increase.

“This law was built with smoke and mirrors to hide the impact of the trillions of dollars of new entitlement spending. Since its passage two years ago, we have seen these gimmicks begin to unravel. The only tool the President has left to prevent this entitlement from blowing another hole in the budget is massive tax increases and a board of fifteen unelected bureaucrats who will cut Medicare in ways that lead to denied care for seniors.

“This future of diminished care is not what Americans deserve. The CBO’s update — like the Supreme Court decision — only underscores the fact that it is up to the American people to repeal this misguided law and advance real health care reform.”

In short, if the CBO is “good news” for Obamacare supporters, they are in a sorry state.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.


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