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Obamacare truth surfacing

In this remarkably early campaign for the 2016 American presidency so far the Republican campaign issues seem to be Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, the economically suffering middle class, and national defense (we need to spend a lot more).

Among the 20 some potential Republican candidates there are, of course, a few other topics seeping into the conversation like Chris Christie’s plan to reduce Social Security and Medicare, Mario Rubio’s revised immigration plan to talk about border security rather than the immigrants themselves, and some general commitment to balance the federal budget on the backs of recipients of the social safety net.

But where is Obamacare in the 2016 campaign?

How is it possible that Obamacare, the force that would destroy America, is not at the forefront of the Republican presidential campaign for 2016?

Georgia Rep. Paul Broun, a physician, said in 2013 “This law is going to destroy America, and everything in America.” Feeling that statement insufficient Broun added “…it’s going to push us into economic collapse in America…”

Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Paul Cruz and Texas pastor said “Obamacare is going to destroy the elderly by denying care…”

Dr. Jim Garrow said “(Obamacare) …is designed to render our beloved founding documents as moot and inflict a specific form of tyranny…”

Glenn Beck, conservative talk show host said “…it’s going to destroy us.”

Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican budget guru, said “…it’s going to destroy the health care system in America.” Ryan added “…the law will collapse under its own weight.”

As it turns out none of these ominous predictions were even remotely accurate. In fact they were all so far from reality as to seem designed to elicit fear beyond reason into a debate about how to address the issues of the American healthcare delivery system.

Said differently, how could such outrageously false claims not result in humiliating retractions given the absurdity of their statements?

The answer lies, in part at least, in the misinformation campaign about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that accompanied the promises of economic collapse, elder care Death Panels, the end of the constitution, even the end of America.

Take for example the costs of the ACA. In a new Kaiser poll this week only 8 percent of respondents thought the ACA came in under its cost estimates, which it has, while 50 percent still believe it has been more costly than planned.

And the scare tactics continue with claims like “skyrocketing” cost increases. The facts are, according to the Congressional Budget Office the increase in personal health care costs under private plans have increased 1.8 percent between 2006-2103 compared to 5.0 percent from 1998-2005.

Further, after credits, the average marketplace plan costs an individual under $100 per month for 70 percent of enrollees and under $50 for 45 percent of enrollees. Premiums are not the only costs when insurance is used in the marketplace.

Today, misinformation and exorbitantly false claims about Obamacare not-withstanding Obamacare is rarely in the news. But quietly it has worked to reduce the number of uninsured Americans by a third, helped bend the inflation cost curve of healthcare, improved digital medical records, extended coverage for children under 26, provided free annual checkups and free testing, ended refusals to insure, and removed coverage caps on the chronically sick.

And, from the Kaiser polling, 43 percent of Americans now have a favorable impression of the ACA, compared to 42 percent who have an unfavorable impression, the highest public approval rating since before the campaign to demonize Obamacare began.

While Republicans still give red meat speeches demanding total repeal of Obamacare to their core constituents they no longer often use Obamacare to campaign with the general public. At least that represents progress.

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.