Conservatives Were Stunningly Wrong About Obamacare, New Report Finds
Research ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN
A New York Times analysis found “historic increases” in those covered by the Affordable Care Act, destroying right-wing media predictions about health care reform including that it would “topple the stock market” and enslave Americans. The Times analysis is just one of many pieces of research that have highlighted the successes of the Affordable Care Act.
New Analysis Finds “Historic Increases” In Coverage For Low-Wage Workers, Immigrants Under Obamacare
NY Times: The Affordable Care Act “Brought Historic Increases In Coverage For Low-Wage Workers And Others Who Have Long Been Left Out Of The Health Care System.” On April 17, a New York Times analysis found that after the first full year of Obamacare, “so many low-income people gained coverage that it halted the decades-long expansion of the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the American health insurance system.” The Times explained that “the law lifted some of the most vulnerable citizens,” including minorities, part-time workers, and low-wage workers:
The first full year of the Affordable Care Act brought historic increases in coverage for low-wage workers and others who have long been left out of the health care system, a New York Times analysis has found. Immigrants of all backgrounds — including more than a million legal residents who are not citizens — had the sharpest rise in coverage rates.
Hispanics, a coveted group of voters this election year, accounted for nearly a third of the increase in adults with insurance. That was the single largest share of any racial or ethnic group, far greater than their 17 percent share of the population. Low-wage workers, who did not have enough clout in the labor market to demand insurance, saw sharp increases. Coverage rates jumped for cooks, dishwashers, waiters, as well as for hairdressers and cashiers. Minorities, who disproportionately worked in low-wage jobs, had large gains.
Nevertheless, the Times’s analysis shows that by the end of that first full year, 2014, so many low-income people gained coverage that it halted the decades-long expansion of the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the American health insurance system, a striking change at a time when disparities between rich and poor are growing in many areas.
“The law has clearly reduced broad measures of inequality,” said David Cutler, an economics professor at Harvard, who served in the Clinton administration and advised the 2008 Obama campaign on health issues. “These are people who blend into the background of the economy. They are cleaning your hotel room, making your sandwich. The law has helped this population enormously.”
The analysis shows how the law lifted some of the most vulnerable citizens. Part-time workers gained insurance at a higher rate than full-time workers, and people with high school degrees gained it at double the rate of college graduates. Adults living in households headed by relatives, such as siblings or cousins — often a marker of economic distress — gained insurance at double the rate of those in traditional households. [The New York Times, 4/17/16]
Conservative Media Made Dire Predictions About Obamacare Before Its Enactment
Glenn Beck Predicted The Affordable Care Act Would Be The “Nail In The Coffin Of America,” “The End Of America As You Know It.” On the November 19, 2009, edition of Premiere Radio Network’s The Glenn Beck Program, then-Fox News host Glenn Beck predicted that passing Obamacare would bring “the end of prosperity in America forever” and “the end of America as you know it”:
GLENN BECK (HOST): If you look at what the health care does, it’s not bringing health care up for everybody. It’s not taking the good health care that people have and trying to bring everybody up to that. It’s destroying the good health care and having us all wallow in misery. That is what they’re going to do on the economy. That’s what they’re going to do on your jobs. That’s what they’re doing in every sector, in every corner of this country. Your freedom is at stake. This is the moment. This is the bill. You must not allow this to pass. Now, what they’re going to do, and because even people like [then-Sen.] Joe Lieberman [(I-CT)], who I like Joe Lieberman. But these people in Washington don’t understand who they’re dealing with. I don’t sit at the table with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and make a treaty with him. Do you know why? Because the last time we tried that with a nut job it was Kim Jong Il. And what happened? They built it anyway. They don’t care. There’s not a bit of honor. They will do it. As Saul Alinsky talked about, the means don’t mean anything. It is only the ends that matter. So Joe Lieberman has said, “oh I’m not going to vote against cloture because I think we need to have a debate.” Well, I think it’s wrong, as well, to stop debate. You’ve got to be able to debate things, but not when you’re sitting at a table with people that you cannot trust. You don’t even talk to these people. Because what they’ll do, is they’re going to get past that 60 vote barrier. And they’ll get there by people like Joe Lieberman, who’s a reasonable guy and has good intent. You’ll get past it by people like that, who say “you know what, look, we got to be reasonable. We have to have a debate.” And then Harry Reid will go for the 51 count and he’ll pass this thing. And it will be a nail in the coffin of America. And it could happen by Saturday. You must, must get on the phone in your districts. You must wake everybody up you know. This is the end of prosperity in America forever if this bill passes. This is the end of America as you know it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 11/19/09]
Rush Limbaugh: Obamacare Will Be “A Life-Threatening Bill” And “Human Beings Will Die Earlier Than Normal” Because Of It. On the November 9, 2009, edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show, host Rush Limbaugh claimed that Obamacare would “end up being a life-threatening bill” and predicted that “human beings will die earlier than normal … because of this bill”:
RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): This whole bill is about death. This whole bill is about rationing who gets coverage and who doesn’t and under what circumstances. It is the single greatest tool a government will have to regulate every aspect of behavior. This is a freedom killing, and it is going to end up being a life-threatening bill. Human beings will die earlier than normal and necessary because of this bill. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/9/09]
Chris Baker: Under Obamacare, Overweight People Would Have To Go To Jail And Undergo “End Of Life Counseling” If They Don’t Lose Weight. On the November 9, 2009, edition of The Glenn Beck Program, guest host Chris Baker predicted that under Obamacare, overweight people would have to go to jail or be subjected to “some end of life counseling” if they don’t lose weight:
CHRIS BAKER (GUEST HOST): Sir, you’re overweight. What? Yes, sir, you are overweight. We’re going to have to require you to lose weight. And if you don’t lose weight on your own, we’re going to send you to a fat camp and make you lose the weight. And if you still don’t lose the weight, then you know what we’re just going to have to do, sir? We’re just going to have to put you in jail. And if you don’t lose the weight in jail, sir, I don’t know what else to do. Maybe some end of life counseling might be good. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 11/9/09]
Limbaugh: “All Of Us Will Be Slaves” Under The Affordable Care Act. On the September 30, 2009, edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh predicted that Obamacare’s purpose “is to smother the individual,” arguing that “the road to serfdom is paved in Obamacare,” and “all of us will be slaves” under the law:
RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): All of this is to smother the individual. The individual, you, will be so busy working your way through the maze of rules that are imposed on you in this health care business and everything else, that you won’t have time to think for yourself. Make no mistake about this. This is all aimed at robbing you of your humanity and forcing you to bow down to the state. If you feel sick, you need a procedure, need a prescription, you’re going to be thinking about the government. Who do I see? What do they want me to do for it? Where do I go? What do I do to have my treatment approved? In other words, you are going to be relying on government for your survival. That’s never happened before in this country outside of national security and natural disaster contexts. This has never happened before. From now on, you’re going to need your government’s permission to get well. Even if there are people who can medically help you, even if there are technologies and drugs that can help you, you’re still going to need permission from the government, some bureaucrat, before you can make use of them. Because some bureaucrat’s going to tell a doctor somewhere, or a hospital whether or not you qualify for treatment. This is the ultimate power over you and your family. You will do anything your government says. You will do anything you must if it’s a life-or-death scenario. And especially if it involves your kid, your kids have a sickness, you’ll do anything your government asks you to do. The road to serfdom, to steal a title of a great book by Friedrich von Hayek, the road to serfdom is paved in Obamacare. That they want on his desk for signature by next week. It’s not going to be a matter of whether you can or cannot pay. It won’t be a matter of whether you have coverage or don’t have coverage. What will matter is that all of us will be slaves, we’ll become slaves under the arbitrary and inhumane decisions of distant bureaucrats working in Washington where there’s no competition. Nobody you can go to if you don’t like what you hear from the bureaucrats that you have to deal with. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/30/09]
Beck: Under Obamacare, The Government “Can Have Their People Come In” If They Think Someone “Maybe Shouldn’t Have A Baby.” On the March 16, 2010, edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck, Beck asserted that under the Affordable Care Act, “if you can be deemed someone who maybe shouldn’t have a baby, they can have their people come in”:
GLENN BECK (HOST): I want to ask you this, judge. You know and I know in this 2,300 page bill, that includes education in it, the control that this government has is endless. They will, if this passes, they will control every aspect of your life. Right or wrong?
ANDREW NAPOLITANO: Certainly with respect to health care and with respect to education, correct. They will tell your doctor what to prescribe. They will tell you how long to stay in the hospital. They will tell you if you qualify for federal dollars.
BECK: They will tell you what to eat. They will be able to, there’s places in here that if you can be deemed someone who maybe shouldn’t have a baby, they can have their people come in. The government is in our homes. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 3/16/10]
CNBC’s Jim Cramer Predicted “Obamacare Will Topple The Stock Market.” On the March 18, 2010, edition of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report, Jim Cramer explained his prediction that “Obamacare will topple the stock market,” saying the bill was “a disaster” because of what it would do to small business formation:
LARRY KUDLOW (HOST): It looks like the House Democrats are going to pass this Obamacare health bill. I noticed today the Intrade pay-to-play poll’s up around 73, 74. And Nancy Pelosi, she can do whatever she wants to buy votes. To get the last few.
JIM CRAMER: Exactly.
KUDLOW: Now you’re saying that Obamacare will topple the stock market. This is a hugely important issue. Let me get your first take.
CRAMER: It is the single biggest impediment to the stock market going higher. And a lot of this has to do with what’s not being talked about enough, with how it’s going to be paid. And also about what it will do to small business formation. This bill is a disaster for both. [CNBC, The Kudlow Report, 3/18/10]
Fox’s Cal Thomas: “Euthanasia Is Coming.” On the November 21, 2009, edition of America’s News HQ, syndicated columnist and Fox contributor Cal Thomas asserted that “euthanasia is coming” under Obamacare and claimed that the law would create “death panels”:
CAL THOMAS: This is not going to turn out the way the Democrats are promising. It does have abortion funding, although it will be called something else. It is going to tax. It is going to create scores of new bureaucracies. Look, this government, no government, can even win a war anymore. How are they going to run one-sixth of the national economy? And, this I believe is a triumph of the humanistic, atheistic philosophy. Instead of being endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, those rights are going to be taken away by bureaucrats who will decide whether you get a hip replacement or a heart bypass based on your age and your ability to pay more taxes. It is an outrage. It is a sham. Euthanasia is coming. You can call ‘em death panels. That’s exactly what they’re going to be. We are going to really be sorry for this. [Fox News, America’s News HQ, 11/21/09]
Research Has Shown The Benefits Of The Affordable Care Act
Gallup: Uninsured Rate Hits Record Low. In an April 7 report, Gallup said the first quarter of 2016 “marks a record low since Gallup and Healthways began tracking the uninsured rate in 2008.” Gallup also reported, “The uninsured rate has declined 6.1 percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2013, which was right before the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act took effect in early 2014 that required Americans to carry health insurance”:
In the first quarter of 2016, the uninsured rate among all U.S. adults was 11.0%, down from 11.9% in the fourth quarter of 2015. This marks a record low since Gallup and Healthways began tracking the uninsured rate in 2008. The uninsured rate has declined 6.1 percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2013, which was right before the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act took effect in early 2014 that required Americans to carry health insurance.
CBO Study Found That Obamacare Frees Workers From “Job Lock.” On December 8, MSNBC's Steve Benen discussed how some workers "will be able to leave their full-time jobs -- by choice -- because of the available benefits" created by the ACA. Benen highlighted a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that showed Obamacare will free millions of workers from "job lock" -- a phenomenon where employees remain in their current employment solely for health-care benefits:
Nearly two years ago, the CBO initially found that, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, in the coming years, many Americans will be able to leave their full-time jobs -- by choice -- because of the available benefits.
Much of the media interpreted this as evidence of the ACA hurting job creation and causing mass layoffs, but that isn't what the findings said at all. In fact, this was good news for the reform law, not bad -- we're talking about a feature, not a bug.
One of the purposes of "Obamacare" is to help end something called "job lock." The phrase describes a dynamic in which many Americans would like to leave their current jobs -- to retire, to start a new business, whatever -- but can't because they and their families need the health benefits tied to their current job. [MSNBC.com, The MaddowBlog, 12/8/15]
LA Times: Number Of States With More Than 20 Percent Uninsured Has Dropped Since ACA Was Implemented In 2013. An August 10 study from Gallup found that in 2015, only one state, Texas, had an uninsured rate of more than 1 in 5 adults -- a significant drop from when Obamacare took effect in 2013 and "there were 14 states in which more than 1 in 5 adults lacked health insurance." According to a Los Angeles Times report on the study:
When the Affordable Care Act took effect in October 2013, there were 14 states in which more than 1 in 5 adults lacked health insurance; today only Texas remains, according to data released Monday.
At the other end of the scale, only five states' populations were so well-insured in 2013 that fewer than 1 in 10 adult residents lacked insurance. Today, more than half the states have achieved that goal.
The state-by-state insurance levels, which detail how rapidly the insurance picture has changed since President Obama's signature healthcare reform started, come from a large-scale, twice-a-year survey by Gallup. The survey included more than 178,000 adults in 2013, before the law took effect, and 88,667 in the first half of 2015, allowing unusually precise estimates of the effect the law has had at the state level.
Texas, whose officials have strongly resisted cooperation with the new law, had the highest level of residents lacking insurance before the law took effect and has made among the least progress of any state. Its uninsurance rate fell from 27% in 2013 to just under 21% in the first half of this year, making it the only state that has more than one-fifth of its residents uninsured. [Los Angeles Times, 8/10/15; Gallup, 8/10/15]
CMS: ACA Safety Net To Insure Americans Who Have Lost Insurance Is Working. Huffington Post reported August 13 that according to data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), "almost half a million people have taken advantage" of Obamacare's safety net that provides "a fallback option to people who lose their health coverage during the year":
The Obamacare health insurance exchanges appear to be doing a good job when it comes to one of their most important yet underappreciated functions: offering a fallback option to people who lose their health coverage during the year.
Already this year, almost half a million people have taken advantage of that safety net, a new government report shows.
Since the federal HealthCare.gov system and those run by states like California and Kentucky went live in October 2013, sign-ups during the annual open enrollment periods have garnered most of the attention, as has the rapid increase in the number of Americans with health insurance.
But a key function of these health insurance exchange marketplaces is to provide a place people can go if they lose their health coverage, such as when they lose a job and the benefits that came with it, or when they start working for an employer that doesn't offer a health plan.
On Thursday, the federal government for the first time released data suggesting Americans are taking advantage of this option. According to a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, half of the 944,000 new enrollees on the federally run exchanges in 37 states between Feb. 23 and June 30 signed up because they'd lost their previous coverage. The agency doesn't have data for states that fully operate their own marketplaces. [Huffington Post, 8/13/15; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 8/13/25]
Gallup: People With ACA Plans “Are More Satisfied … With The Cost Of Their Health Coverage.” A November 14, 2014, Gallup poll found that those newly insured on the ACA exchanges were "more satisfied than the average insured American with the cost of their health coverage":
In addition to newly insured Americans rating their coverage and the quality of their healthcare positively, they are more satisfied than the average insured American with the cost of their health coverage. Three in four of the newly insured say they are satisfied with this aspect of their healthcare experience, compared with 61% among the general population of those with insurance. To some degree, this could reflect the fact that many who get insurance through the exchanges receive government subsidies to help reduce the overall cost of their health insurance. [Gallup, 11/14/14]
Bloomberg: Economic Experts Say The ACA Is "Trimming The Nation's Medical Bill." In a September 5, 2014, article, Bloomberg reported that economic and health care experts were starting to see evidence of the law's positive effects on medical costs and believed that the law includes "key ingredients in trimming the nation's medical bill":
Obamacare has been criticized by Republicans as costly and unsustainable. Now, four years after its arrival, the law's mandated program cuts and the medical practices it encourages -- limiting unneeded procedures, and keeping people out of the hospital longer -- are cited by economists as key ingredients in trimming the nation's medical bill. While the recession has had an influence on the cost slowdown, it doesn't explain it all, according to policy analysts and the CBO.
"When the CBO goes back and revises their baseline, historically they've adjusted upwards," said Tricia Neuman, director of the Kaiser Family Foundation's Program on Medicare Policy. "So the fact that there's been year-after-year downward adjustments is fairly remarkable since they occurred after the ACA" was signed into law. [Bloomberg, 9/5/14]
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- Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Chris Baker, Andrew Napolitano, Jim Cramer, Cal Thomas
- Glenn Beck Program, The Rush Limbaugh Show, Kudlow Report, America's News HQ, The Maddow Blog, HuffPost