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March 29, 2016

Spiking health care costs under ACA is a myth

By Robert Weiner

One of the biggest issues in the presidential election is a recurring Republican critique of the Affordable Care Act: the supposedly massive healthcare price spikes. A smart consumer can both achieve health care coverage and save money, without succumbing to the naysayers who either have not done their homework comparing plans or, for political purposes, do not want to credit the President for a major achievement.

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Repeal ObamaCare
Repeal ObamaCare
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Originally published in the Tallahassee Democrat

By Robert Weiner and Daniel Khan

One of the biggest issues in the presidential election is a recurring Republican critique of the Affordable Care Act: the supposedly massive healthcare price spikes. Frontrunner Donald Trump said, "I don't know if you have been watching lately -- people's premiums are going up 35, 45, 55 percent. Their deductibles are so high nobody's ever going to get to use it. Obamacare is turning out to be a bigger disaster than anybody thought."

The results speak otherwise. President Obama said, "Contrary to some of the predictions of the naysayers, not only is the program working, but we've actually seen health care inflation lower than it's been in 50 years."

It is true that employer-based insurance premiums increased 26% from 2009 to 2014, but prior to the passage of the ACA, they went up 34% from 2004 to 2009 and 72% from 1999 to 2004.

Twenty million more Americans now have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, including nearly 8 million new Medicaid enrollees under Obamacare's expansion, according to Obamcarefacts.com.

People will be living longer. According to a Harvard School of Public Health study of Massachusetts, "In each of the first four years of the state law, 320 fewer Massachusetts men and women died than would have been expected. That's one life extended for every 830 newly insured residents." Another study, by the American Journal of Public Health, shows that nearly 45,000 people die every year due to a lack of health insurance.

Yet the literally sickening (potentially to millions) refrain persists, "Repeal and replace Obamacare." The House has now voted to repeal it 63 time (but never with the replace part, since they'd actually use Obamacare provisions).

Even in Kentucky, with uninsured down to an all-time low 7.5 percent there, U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky, takes credit for the insurance expansion by his state--but refuses to publicly acknowledge it's because of and under Obamacare. It's as though it came rom the sky.

Florida's great former congressman and senator, Claude Pepper, fought for national health insurance his whole life. He would be incensed at the opponents of Obamacare for trying to block the coverage for millions who now have it. Pepper, whose library and museum are at Florida State University in Tallahassee, said back in 1987, "What I'm talking about is a principle of insurance applied to health care. We insure our homes. We insure our businesses. Why can't we insure something that's even more important to us, our lives and our health?"

In 2013, Gov. Rick Scott, who knows health costs as a former hospital group administrator, was for Obamacare Medicaid expansion before he was against it. He said, "While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians the needed access to health care." Then he lost that "good conscience" to politics. He reversed after his Republican legislature refused to allow it for fear of giving Obama credit for anything.

According to HHS.gov, if Florida were to expand Medicaid, "an additional 848,000 uninsured people would gain coverage." Even without, under Obamacare's marketplace, a Gallup poll confirmed that the "uninsured rate in Florida in 2014 was 18.3%, down from 22.1% in 2013."

"Some people in some plans through some carriers in some states are, indeed, looking at rate hikes of '35 to 50 percent' if they stick with those plans," said Charles Gaba, who runs the popular blog ACAsignups.net , which tracks Obamacare enrollment. But that is largely from lack of initiative. The average is much lower.

Through healthcare.gov, customers can search for an array of plans based on their financial and health priorities. Customers are able to switch plans, which enables them to save a lot of money. According to the HHS, "those who switched plans within the same metal tier (platinum, gold, silver, bronze) saved an average of nearly $400 on their 2015 annualized premiums after tax credits as compared to those who stayed in their same plans."

According to HHS, "about 8 out of 10 returning consumers will be able to buy a plan with premiums less than $100 dollars a month after tax credits; and about 7 out of 10 will have a plan available for less than $75 a month."

A smart consumer can both achieve health care coverage and save money, without succumbing to the naysayers who either have not done their homework comparing plans or, for political purposes, do not want to credit the President for a major achievement.

Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the Clinton White House and was Chief of Staff of Cong. Claude Pepper's (D-FL) House Aging Committee and Subcommittee on Health. Daniel Khan is senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.

Links to head shots:

Robert Weiner: http://www.weinerpublic.com/bobweiner2.jpg

Daniel Khan: http://www.weinerpublic.com/dkhan.jpg




Submitters Bio:

Robert Weiner,
NATIONAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND ISSUES STRATEGIST

Bob Weiner, a national issues and public affairs strategist, has been spokesman for and directed the public affairs offices of White House Drug Czar and Four Star General Barry McCaffrey, the House Government Operations Committee and Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and the House Narcotics Committee, and was Chief of Staff for the House Aging Committee and Chairman Claude Pepper (D-FL). He also was Legislative Assistant to Ed Koch of New York and a political aide to Ted Kennedy (D-MA) for his Presidential and Senate races. Bob worked at the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate as youth voter registration director in 1971-1972 when the constitution was amended to allow 18-year olds the vote.

Since he left the White House in 2001, Bob heads up a public affairs and issue strategies company, Robert Weiner Associates. He is a regular political analyst on Radio America and has appeared on Bill Maher, CNN Crossfire, Today, Good Morning America, and the CBS, NBC, and ABC evening news. He is widely published in columns he writes on national issues in major papers throughout the country including recently the Washington Post, Denver Post, Miami Herald, Christian Science Monitor, New York Daily News, Baltimore Sun, Boston Globe, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Atlanta Constitution, New York Post, Washington Times, Sacramento Bee, Palm Beach Post, Salt Lake Tribune, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Adweek. He is also regularly quoted in key media coast-to-coast, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, AP and Reuters, concerning the presidential campaign and national issues.


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