John McCain lies about ‘ObamaCare’

ObamacareJohn McCain has largely built his entire campaign, at least from his television ads, around GOP opposition to the Affordable Care Act aka “ObamaCare.” In his ads, McCain claims that ObamaCare has “devastated” Arizona.

What exactly does he mean by “devastated”? I have been unable to find a single report or fact check from the fawning Arizona McMedia into McCain’s claim. Has any reporter even asked him to explain? Or are they all too busy kissing his wrinkled old ass?

Arizona’s job growth has been lackluster since the Bush Great Recession, but has had a slight uptick in the past couple of years. Do you know why that is?

It is due largely to growth in the health services field as a result of  Obamacare. IN December. the Phoenix Business Journal reported, Which Arizona business sectors will do the most hiring in 2016:

In Arizona, the state’s Department of Administration projected that 63,100 jobs will be created in 2016. That seems a bit of a conservative projection, however, since through November 2015, the state had added 65,000. The DOA had projected only 56,000 new jobs in all of 2015.

By the end of next year, DOA expects the number of health care and services workers will increase by nearly 30,000 over the employment base in 2014.

For Arizona, the second-fastest growing projected job opportunities will be in leisure and hospitality, with 23,300 new jobs, an increase a little over 6 percent.

The table below shows the projected change in employment opportunities over 10 years within the national sectors from the BLS. The infographic is the Arizona project from DOA comparing the job growth forecast for 2016 to 2014.

Chart 1Screen Shot 2016-10-21 at 1.03.05 PM

Remember when Tea-Publicans, including John McCain, all claimed that ObamaCare would be a job killer? Not so. Business has created jobs every month since Obamacare became law; Obamacare, the secret jobs program: “The industry has gained nearly 2 million jobs since the ACA was signed into law in March 2010. More people — 15.5 million — now work in health care than live in the state of Ohio. Employment in the health insurance industry, which had fallen since the recession, jumped nearly 9 percent from 2012 to 2013 as millions of Americans became newly insured. Based on job numbers, no sector is healthier than health care.”

So when John McCain, and every other Tea-Publican, says that he wants to repeal ObamaCare in its entirety and “replace” it with some unicorn GOP plan that the GOP has not put forward over the past six years, what McCain is really saying, in effect, is that he wants to kill these good new jobs created in the health services field. The economic recovery would have been slower than what it has been due to GOP obstruction and sabotage of the Obama economic agenda, and unemployment would be higher today.

A major purpose of ObamaCare was to extend access to healthcare to all American citizens. Like Obama’s economic agenda, Tea-Publicans in Congress and in state legislatures and governorships have sought to obstruct and to sabotage ObamaCare so that it will not work as it was designed. Many states refused to establish their own health insurance marketplace (thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court making it optional), and many others have not expanded Medicaid coverage.

Here in Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer rejected setting up a state run health insurance marketplace (so much for “states rights”), putting Arizona in the federal health insurance marketplace by default. A bipartisan coalition of Arizona legislators did pass Medicaid expansion — because they desperately wanted the federal money — but Tea-Publican legislators who voted against the bill sued to overturn the vote. This case is still active in court and has not been finally decided.

Expanded Medicaid (AHCCCS) in Arizona has been a godsend for the uninsured. Enrollment in AHCCCS, Arizona’s version of Medicaid up in Pima County, state:

The number of people enrolled in Medicaid in Arizona has increased by 45 percent since January 2014.

Enrollment as of September was 1.9 million, up from 1.3 million in January 2014, the latest enrollment data show.

In Pima County, enrollment is 288,000, up 47 percent since January 2014, the data says.

* * *

Enrollment in AHCCCS spiked 2014 due to Medicaid expansion approved by then Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in connection with the Affordable Care Act and due the restoration of childless adults to the program, which occurred at the same time.

As of September, the state has also restored KidsCare to the AHCCCS program and in its first month of accepting children, nearly 3,000 signed up, the most recent state data shows.

KidsCare is for the children of parents who earn too much to qualify for AHCCCS but not enough to affordably pay for private insurance, even with subsidies offered through the Affordable Care Act.

If John McCain or our Tea-Publican state legislators have their way, none of these added individuals would have access to health care, and it is fair to say that some of them would be dead today without receiving care. The GOP health care plan is “perhaps you should die and decrease the surplus population.”

Much of the recent negative headlines have been about health insurers pulling out of the federal health insurance marketplace for that old capitalist reason: it’s not profitable enough for them and their shareholders.

Insurers are playing a game of holdup, trying to get Congress increase subsidies to insurers to make it more profitable for them. Tea-Publicans in Congress have blocked this move, hellbent on trying to kill ObamaCare.

ObamaCare advocates say despite the disruption caused by discontinued health insurance plans, it’s important to remember that consumers still will have access to coverage. Before the federal marketplace and state insurance exchanges launched in 2014, insurers routinely denied or limited coverage for individuals with chronic diseases or other medical conditions. Obamacare’ in Arizona:

“It’s important for Arizonans to know that headline marketplace rate changes do not reflect what most consumers actually pay, because the majority of those who might buy 2017 coverage are eligible for tax credits to keep plans affordable,” said Jonathan Gold, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press secretary.

Gold added that Arizona consumers benefit from other ACA provisions such as “no annual limits on coverage and no cost sharing for preventive services.”

In addition to marketplace coverage, more than 330,000 Arizonans have gained Medicaid when the state restored and expanded Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System coverage, largely with funds provided by the federal health law.

“Arizonans do have the ability to get covered with health insurance at affordable rates for the upcoming year,” said Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.

* * *

Although six health insurers are exiting the federal marketplace, at least three will continue to sell non-marketplace plans directly to consumers or through private insurance brokers. Aetna, Cigna and Phoenix Health Plans all filed paperwork to sell such “off-marketplace” plans to consumers. Consumer who buy off-marketplace plans won’t be eligible to collect the federal subsidies that the marketplace offers.

Brokers say the availability of such off-exchange plans will at minimum give some middle- and upper-income consumers an option to buy coverage directly from an insurance company.

“At least people who don’t qualify for subsidies can go direct,” said Michael Malasnik, a Phoenix health insurance broker.

If ObamaCare was repealed in its entirely as John McCain and his Tea-Publican cohorts want, all of the benefits of the ACA would disappear. Benefits Of ObamaCare: Advantage of ObamaCare. This would be “devastating” to millions of Americans, not that John McCain cares. He has gold-plated Senate medical care, VA Care if he wants it, and his wife’s millions in beer money to pay for concierge medical care.

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post recently wrote, Reports of Obamacare’s demise are greatly exaggerated:

Donald Trump said in the second presidential debate: “Obamacare is a disaster. You know it. We all know it. It’s going up at numbers that nobody’s ever seen worldwide. Nobody’s ever seen numbers like this for health care.”

It’s true that nobody’s ever seen (or, at least, not in a good long while) numbers like this for health care — because, in fact, the price increases have been so small.

The popular narrative that health-care prices and spending are growing at ludicrous speed is completely, utterly false. On nearly every metric, health care today is actually much cheaper than anyone predicted when Obamacare was signed into law.

I know, I know. Readers will call baloney because their own health-related costs have gotten so high.

Yes, they are expensive and, yes, they are growing. But the aim of the Affordable Care Act was never to make health-care prices fall; it was merely to prevent them from growing at the insane rates we saw in the decades before the law.

That’s what was meant by that famous limbo-tastic expressionof “bending the cost curve”: Policymakers were trying to restrain rapid health-care cost growth, not reverse it.

On that basis, today’s health-care system has exceeded expectations. Exactly how much credit Obamacare deserves for these achievements, though, remains an open question (more on this in a bit).

Since Obamacare passed, health prices have been rising at the slowest rate in 50 years, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s index of health-related personal consumption expenditures. Year-over-year price increases have averaged about 1.6 percent each month since the law passed in March 2010. That’s roughly half the rates seen over the prior decade.

What about insurance premiums? They’re definitely not cheap, averaging more than $6,435 in 2016 for an employer-sponsored single-person plan, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But again, what matters is the trend, and the counterfactual: Where would premiums be today had earlier, more rapid price-growth trends continued? These premiums rose on average “only” 2.9 percent in 2016, compared with an average annual increase of 7.1 percent in the decade leading up to Obamacare’s passage in 2010.

Deductibles, too, are large and rising rapidly — but again, they are near or slightly below the level they would have reached had they continued their pace from the years preceding the ACA.

What about premiums for insurance bought on the troubled exchanges?

We didn’t really have a functional individual market before Obamacare, so there’s no useful trend to compare with. But we can at least compare today’s numbers with projections made when the law was being considered.

In late 2009, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation forecast what individual insurance premiums would be under the law in 2016. Their best guess for the average nationwide benchmark plan (meaning, the second-lowest-cost “silver” plan): $5,200 for single coverage.

The actual cost came in well below that this year, at $4,583, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.

Likewise, total U.S. health-care spending, especially Medicare spending, today is much lower than projected. As a result, Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund is expected to remain solvent until 2028, 11 years longer than anticipated before Obamacare was enacted.

None of these figures will be surprising or controversial to economists or health-care experts. What is uncertain, though, is who or what is responsible for the price and spending slowdown.

The Obama administration likes to take credit. And there indeed were cost-control measures in the ACA, but probably not enough of them to fully account for how much price growth decelerated. Moreover, other developed countries have also seen health spending decelerate, and even the U.S. slowdown began before Obamacare actually passed.

Given that we don’t exactly know what caused the slowdowns, it’s hard to predict whether they’ll continue. There are some worrying signs that they may not, including: hospital and provider consolidation; reduced competition among insurers (especially on the exchanges); delayed implementation of the “Cadillac tax” on high-cost insurance; and recent approval of expensive, potentially blockbuster drugs.

But in the meantime, those claims that Obamacare would destroy the economy and send health-care prices through the roof? So far that dog hasn’t barked.

Funny how none of this gets reported by our fawning McMedia in Arizona who fail to report this information, because it would make their boy Johnny look bad.

7 responses to “John McCain lies about ‘ObamaCare’

  1. So we should accept the ACA if only because of the jobs it created, hmm? And we should like it because, in general, the price increases for healthcare aren’t as bad as they could have been? That’s pretty weak praise for a system that was supposed to provide quality healthcare at reasonable prices. No wonder it had to be forced on so many people…

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Hmmm, it’s been a few years, but I don’t recall the ACA being “forced on so many people”, that sounds like Fox News talking.

      I do remember something about an election….

      And you forgot the most important part, millions of people and families now have health insurance that did not before Obama.

      I know you of all people understand what a good thing that is, Steve.

      • The people I was referring to as having the ACA “forced on them” were the several million people that chose not to purchase health care because they young and healthy or because they had their own reasons. The ACA did force healthcare purchases on them.

        Something you should know, Not Tom, is that I was a big time supporter of the ACA as the concept was originally sold to us. I mentioned that quite a few times here in the blog. I thought getting health insurance to the uninsured was a great idea. Since that time, my enthusiasm for the ACA has waned as many unexpected problems arose, the prices went up, insurers began giving up providing the service and the true cost of subsidizing significant numbers of people became obvious. I am becoming suspicious that the ACA was designed to fail. I hope I am wrong…

  2. Pauly Jackson

    Great article, thank you. I was only disappointed with the fact your article does not mention the infamous Public Option, the ONE THING the Republicans fought against that I thought Obama needed to go to the mat for. The Public Option would be like the Piece de Resistance of the ACA, its signature act and uniquely competitive edge against potential Insurance shady business and manipulation, as they’re doing now by exiting the exchanges. Why isnt the Public Option raised more (and please dont tell me its just the brain wash of people fearing “government takeover” of health care, there has to be a better way to market the idea if that’s the case). Thanks.

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      President Obama discussed adding the public option in his speech in the next post.

    • When you say “market the idea”, you are really saying “lie to the people” so they they don’t see it for what it is: the start of a government takeover of the healthcare system. Now, is that a bad thing? I really don’t know. Medicare has worked over the years on a population that has used the heck out of it. BUT it has come at great expense to Nation. So the real question is: Can we afford government run healthcare? I don’t think we can, certainly not at the levels the American People demand today.

  3. For Sure Not Tom

    McCain can’t say for sure how many houses he has, what does he care if the poors have insurance?

    And if McCain loses, who will Chuck Todd throw softballs at on Sunday mornings?