Hey hysterical media villagers! It turns out that ‘millions’ did not lose their health insurance because of ‘ObamaCare’


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Back in November the conservative media entertainment complex latched onto the GOPropaganda talking point that millions of Americans have had their health insurance policies "cancelled" – implying that these individuals would be left without health insurance coverage because of "ObamaCare." Their complicit partners in the "lamestream media" picked up the GOPropaganda talking point and caused a media hysteria for several weeks.

There is a big problem with using anecdotal reporting about individuals who claim to be 'victims" of "ObamaCare" to extrapolate a larger media narrative — many of these individuals' stories were quickly debunked by serious and credible reporters who are not given to media hysteria. It turns out GOP claims that millions of Americans would lose their health insurance because of "ObamaCare" was not true (ah, but you already knew that).

A New Report Undermines Claims That Millions Will Lose Coverage Due To Obamacare:

[A]ccording to a new analysis, this ignores counterbalancing policies in the law. The report finds that less than 10,000 people will lose coverage coverage without an immediate and affordable replacement.

The paper, put together on behalf of ranking member Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and other the Democrats on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, takes as its starting point a recent Associated Press report that 4.7 million Americans will see their current coverage cancelled. Critics of Obamacare have used this and other reports to play conceptual games, allowing the technical “cancellation” of a plan to imply a consumer will lose all coverage entirely and be left out in the cold. But for the vast major that 4.7 million, the cancellation of a plan simply means a shift into a new and often better form of coverage. The report lays out three ways this happens.

First, there’s the extended grandfather period. Even before Obamacare was enacted, health plans on the individual market — which usually operate on year-long contracts — changed on consumers all the time. Benefits could be altered or premiums jacked up. In order to give consumers more reliability, Obamacare placed much tighter controls on how and why insurers may charge different customers different premiums, and mandated a core package of benefits all plans must provide. Unfortunately, this also meant many pre-Obamacare plans that didm;t meet those new qualifications would have to be cancelled. In order to smooth that transition, the law allowed insurers to “grandfather” in certain pre-Obamacare plans by allowing them to be renewed for one more year at any point in 2013.

In November, the administration decided to extend that renewal period through 2014 as well. The extension was optional for regulators and insurers in each state, and some chose not to enact it. But of the 4.7 million in the AP’s report, 2.35 million — or half — will be able to take advantage of the extension.

Furthermore, the Democrats note that the other half can still sign up for plans that qualify under Obamacare. In briefings with committee staff, one of the country’s largest Blue Cross plans said they don’t expect any of their 2013 enrollees to be without coverage in 2014, and one of the country’s largest for-profit insurers said they’d sent actual cancellation notices to only 2,000 people nationwide, while the vast majority of their customers simply enrolled in Obamacare-compliant coverage.

Second, there’s Obamacare’s subsidies and Medicaid. In order to help Americans better afford coverage on the individual, Obamacare provides tax credits to anyone on the exchanges making between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). That’s between $23,000 and $94,000 for a family of four. Over half of all married couples made $75,678 or less in 2012. Obamacare also provided the states the resources to expand Medicaid to anyone making up to 138 percent of the FPL.

Citing analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Democrats’ report estimates that 60 percent of the 2.35 million who can’t take advantage of the extension will either qualify for subsidies or for the Medicaid expansion. That’s another 1.4 million out of the original 4.7 million cited by the AP. That number would be even larger if it weren’t for the states that refused the Medicaid expansion.

Third, there’s access to catastrophic coverage. Another failsafe built into Obamacare was the possibility of a “hardship exemption” for any American who faced serious hurdles in complying the law’s mandate that everyone purchase health coverage. In December, the administration decided that exemption applied to anyone who’d seen their previous coverage cancelled due to Obamacare’s policy changes. That means they won’t be subject to the mandate’s penalty, and that they’ll be allowed to purchase cheaper “catastrophic coverage” along with the Obamacare-compliant plans on the exchanges.

The new report found that of the 2.35 million who can’t renew their pre-Obamacare plans through 2014, 99 percent will have the option to buy low-cost catastrophic coverage.

Put those three overlapping policies together, and “the actual number of individuals who receive a cancellation notice, do not sign up for new insurance in 2014, and lack the option to do so at affordable prices will likely be less than 10,000.” As the Democrats’ analysis notes, that’s less than 0.2 percent of the original 4.7 million cited by the AP. [All Propaganda]

George Zornick writes at the Washington Post, Stunning new report undermines central GOP Obamacare claim:

A crucial GOP line of attack against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that millions of people will supposedly lose coverage thanks to shifting requirements on the health insurance exchanges — a flagrant violation of President Obama’s infamous “if you like your plan, you can keep it” proclamation. The truth has always been more complicated, of course. Republicans are constantly blurring the line between people who lose a plan and people who lose coverage. That is, many people might lose a particular insurance plan but immediately be presented with other options.

Now, a new report from the minority staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has destroyed the foundation of that particular GOP claim. It projects that only 10,000 people will lose coverage because of the ACA and be unable to regain it — or in other words, 0.2 percent of the oft-cited 5 million cancellations statistic.

The report starts with an assumption that 4.7 million will receive cancellation notices about their 2013 plan. (Notably it doesn’t endorse that figure, just takes it on for the sake of argument.) But of those, who will get a new plan?

  • According to the report, half of the 4.7 million will have the option to renew their 2013 plans, thanks to an administrative fix this year.
  • Of the remaining 2.35 million individuals, 1.4 million should be eligible for tax credits through the marketplaces or Medicaid, according to the report.
  • Of the remaining 950,000 individuals, fewer than 10,000 people in 18 counties will lack access to an affordable catastrophic plan.

“This new report shows that people will get the health insurance coverage they need, contrary to the dire predictions of Republicans,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the ranking committee member.  “Millions of American families are already benefiting from the law.”

The report is somewhat speculative, of course, since there is no central repository of data on the individual health insurance market. But the methods are clear, and the onus is now on Republicans to explain why it isn’t true.

* * *

Of course, there’s no doubt that for those 10,000 people, the health-care law left them worse off than before. And by no means is the rocky political ride over for Democrats — back-end problems still present a serious threat to implementation. But as is sadly too often the case, the arguments made by Republicans simply lack a firm factual basis — and deserve much more scrutiny that they’ve received in many sectors of the mainstream press.

So whaddya say, media villagers? How about a new year's resolution for 2014 that you will stop being spoonfed GOPropaganda from the conservative media entertainment complex and engaging in irresponsible media hysteria and — Oh, I don't know — actually do the research, learn something about public policy and the law, and get the story right the first time? Because no one remembers the corrections to your bullshit reporting, like the reports above — they only remember the initial hysterical misrepresentations and false reporting.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


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