"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Six Months After Obamacare: “This Is No Anniversary Democrats Should Be Celebrating”

September 23rd, 2010 by mopns · No Comments

Six months ago, President Obama signed his massive, unpopular health care bill into law and today the White House is “celebrating” that anniversary. But beyond the Obama administration, there aren’t many people celebrating this flawed law today. If anything, this anniversary puts in stark contrast how wrong Democrats were about this bill. In a must-read story, Politico writes today, “Rarely have so many political strategists been so wrong about something so big. But when it comes to the health care bill, everyone from former President Bill Clinton on down whiffed on some of the more significant predictions.” Indeed, over the last six months, reality has shown that the promises made by Democrats about the bill are not bearing out.

Democrats promised that if they passed their bill, Americans’ health insurance premiums would go down. In February, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius boasted, “What will happen with health reform, premiums will go down between 14 percent and 20 percent just by passing the bills.” But earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported, “Health insurers … have asked for premium increases of between 1% and 9% to pay for extra benefits required under the [Democrat health care] law.” And just at the beginning of this week, Sebelius actually admitted in an interview, “I think the rate increases are likely to continue to be somewhat substantial.”

A year ago, in his speech to a Joint Session of Congress to push for his health care legislation, President Obama said, “The plan I’m announcing tonight … will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” Yet earlier this month the Los Angeles Times reported, “Pushed by a dramatic increase in the number of Americans who will get insurance under the new healthcare law, total U.S. medical spending will continue to gallop upward, consuming nearly 20% of the economy by 2019, according to a new government estimate.” And CBO director Doug Elemendorf wrote back in June, “[F]ederal spending on major mandatory healthcare programs will grow from roughly 5 percent of GDP today to about 10 percent in 2035 and will continue to increase thereafter.”

Another Democrat promise was that the half a trillion dollars worth of Medicare cuts in the law wouldn’t hurt Medicare benefits. Obama said in his speech last year, “[D]on’t pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut . . . . That will not happen on my watch.” Yet with $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage alone, was it ever possible that benefits would stay the same? The actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predicted a month after the law’s passage, “The new provisions will generally reduce [Medicare Advantage] rebates to plans and thereby result in less generous benefit packages.” And sure enough The Wall Street Journal reported in June, “Dozens of Medicare Advantage providers plan to cut back vision, dental and prescription benefits.” And a month later the WSJ noted, “The Congressional Budget Office says on average, Medicare Advantage enrollees will get $68 less a month in benefits by 2019 because of the [health care] law.”

Democrats also promised Americans over and over again, “If you like your current plan, you will be able to keep it,” in the words of President Obama last summer. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed, “In fact, one of our core principles is that if you like the health care you have, you can keep it.” However, barely two months later, the AP wrote, “Over and over in the health care debate, President Barack Obama said people who like their current coverage would be able to keep it. But an early draft of an administration regulation estimates that many employers will be forced to make changes to their health plans under the new law. In just three years, a majority of workers—51 percent—will be in plans subject to new federal requirements, according to the draft.”

As today’s Politico story notes, “Obama told Democrats repeatedly that they would be proud to campaign on legislation as historic as comprehensive health care reform, something that had eluded generations of lawmakers and presidents.” And Sen. Chuck Schumer predicted in March, “By November, those who voted for health care will find it an asset, those who voted against it will find it a liability . . . .” But a majority of Americans still opposes the bill, and Time’s Kate Pickert wrote at the beginning of this month that “Democrats grossly underestimated the political damage of pushing through health care reform.” According to a Politico story from around the same time, Democrat “[p]arty officials in Washington can’t identify a single house member who’s running an ad boasting of a ‘yes’ vote.” Today’s Politico piece adds, “Some Senate Democrats . . . ignore the law altogether in the health care section of their campaign websites. They don’t take credit for helping pass the Affordable Care Act.”

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said today, “Americans never wanted this massive government-driven intrusion into their health care, and virtually every day it seems, we see that the concerns Americans had about this bill are being vindicated. Throughout the day, administration officials will tell people the things it wants Americans to believe about this bill. Based on the promises the administration made to pass it, Americans should be deeply skeptical. . . . Democrats were eager to listen to the strategists and the administration officials who told them what this bill would do and how it would be received, when what they should have been doing is listening to the American people, who never liked this bill and who knew it couldn’t deliver on the promises Democrats made. So this is no anniversary Democrats should be celebrating.”

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