The New Hampshire Union Leader rehashed debunked myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to misleadingly claim the law isn't working and is growing in unpopularity among Americans, even as polls show the law is gaining support despite initial flaws in rollout of the exchanges.
The October 22 editorial discussed a speech given by President Obama earlier this week in which he expressed disappointment in the exchange rollout's obvious issues but explained that the “essence of the law, the health insurance that's available to people, is working just fine.” The piece disagreed, explaining that not only is the website flawed, but the entire law is not working:
The insurance can't be “working just fine” if people can't access it. Nor can it be “working just fine” if it costs more, is not what the insurance people want or need, and causes employers to drop coverage either because it does not meet the Obamacare insurance mandates or because paying the Obamacare fines is cheaper than covering employees.
Nothing about this law is “working just fine.” Nor is the President's pathetic spin, which fewer Americans believe every day.
While there are flaws with the online enrollment system, which President Obama has acknowledged and his administration is in the process of fixing, the other accusations leveled by the Union Leader are misleading.
First, several studies have shown that costs for people purchasing insurance have gone down. According to a release by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will be able to pay less than $100 per month for health insurance coverage on the exchanges. In addition, the health care advocacy group Families USA found that up to 26 million Americans would be eligible for subsidies to reduce the cost of insurance. In fact, as a study by the Center for American Progress explains, the lower-than-projected premiums “will save the federal government $190 billion over 10 years and increase the law's deficit reduction by 174 percent to almost $300 billion. Lastly, a study by the RAND Corporation found that the law will help consumers lower their out-of-pocket costs in some cases by more than $1,000.
The editorial also wrongly suggests the law will cause companies to drop their health insurance coverage for their employees. Using the Massachusetts health care reform as an example, a study from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the number of people covered by workplace insurance increased by about 1 percent while the rest of the nation saw a decrease of almost 5.7 percent. In addition, a survey by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that 69 percent of benefit professionals said their companies “definitely will” continue health care coverage while only 1 percent responded that coverage would definitely not be offered in 2014. Another survey by the global professional services company Towers Watson found that 98 percent of employers “plan to retain their active medical plans for 2014 and 2015.”
Although the Union Leader would like its readers to believe that people are increasingly less supportive of the law, recent polling data actually show the opposite. A recent Gallup poll taken between October 18 and 20 shows that support for the law has actually increased from August, and that young Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 are the most likely to support the law. As Steve Benen of MSNBC noted, four national polls “show the health care law more popular now than the last time the pollsters asked” even though all the polls were conducted after the “considerable coverage of technical problems with the system's website.”