Shortly after the Supreme Court Announced its opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius which determined the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Gov. Mitt Romney shared his reaction. Romney’s verdict was that Obamacare must be replaced. In justifying this, Romney highly distorted the effect of ACA and, when explaining what a good health care law should achieve, essentially describes the ACA.
Romney’s words, but not his facts, were chosen carefully; however, both words and selected facts were intended to stoke the flames of partisanship that already burn so brightly today.
“I disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision and I agree with the dissent.”
To disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision is to disagree with the concept that Congress may tax people for not buying health insurance. The fact that he does not make a single mention of the law’s constitutionality reveals that by “disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision” he probably means he does not like the policy found to be constitutional. This sly rhetoric is meant to invalidate the Supreme Court’s ruling in the eyes of the public. But without support, it should be ignored.
“What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected President of the United States and that is I will act to repeal Obamacare.”
What an easy campaign pledge to make; however, since it was promised to happen on the first day of his term, it would be very easy to hold him accountable for. Romney was careful to say that he will act to repeal Obamacare because, as he well knows, a president can only sign a law passed by both houses of Congress. And such a bill will not be ready to sign on his first day. Although acting to repeal something could include public pressuring of congress, it is not clear what he intends to do other than “act.”
“Obamacare raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion dollars”
The bit of truth in this statement is that by the end of a ten year period (now until 2021 the law will have required about $500 billion in tax revenue. However, this will not be coming from the American people writ large. In fact, most Americans will not be taxed as a part of the plan. About half of the tax will come from taxes on individuals making over $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000. The rest will come from excise taxes on manufacturers of certain medical devices. While some of those costs may be passed on to other Americans, that cannot be conceived of as a tax.
“And even with those cuts and tax increases, Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and our national debt”
In this era of economic tumult, and coming from a candidate fairly well-versed in matters of finance and economics, the narrow analysis that went into this claim is truly troubling. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the gross cost of the coverage provisions is approximately $1.5 trillion. But remember the taxes Romney bemoaned in the same sentence? Those taxes, coupled with over $700 billion in savings for Medicare and other federal health care programs will decrease the federal deficits over the 2012-2021 by $210 billion!
“Obamacare also means that for up to 20 million Americans they will lose the insurance they currently have, the insurance that they--that they--like and they would like to keep.”
This is another erroneous claim. His number is based on a misconstrued estimate of the CBO that has been completely replaced by a new estimate. Up to 20 million will lose the insurance they currently have? According to the current figure of the Congressional Budget Office, the number of people who will obtain coverage through their employer because Obama care is 3 to 5 million!
“Obamacare puts the federal government between you and your doctor.”
This figurative language meant to scare listeners begs the question about in what way the federal government will be between patients and doctors? Page 409 of the ACA states that,
“the proposal shall not include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums... increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria.”
Additionally, most people will hang on to their current plans and, as long as they want, keep going to their doctors. There is no rationing of health care. It would have been nice if Romney had explained his apparently fabricated claim.
Romney pledges to replace Obamacare with a better alternative. In a “real reform,” he looks for the following:
“[We] have to make sure people who want to keep current insurance will be able to do so.”
Short of requiring companies to not alter insurance, or stopping individuals from making decisions on how to spend their money (both examples of severe government control of the market) Romney can do no better than what is in the ACA, which makes no requirements of what type of insurance people have.
“[We] gotta make sure that those people who have pre-existing conditions know they will be able to be insured and they will not lose their insurance.”
The ACA does that already, and that is widely known. Why he would bring this up as an alternative to the ACA is beyond comprehension.
“[We should] help each state in their effort to assure that every American has access to affordable health care.”
It is not clear to what Romney refers. If it is a states’ rights issue, the Supreme Court has ruled that “the federal government could not penalize states for noncompliance by withholding their existing federal Medicaid dollars,” thus, the ACA in its current gives due protection to states’ rights.
“Something that Obamacare does not do that must be done in real reform is helping lower the cost of health care and health insurance.”
The ACA will already be saving $210 billion over the next ten years. If Romney has a plan to save more money he should propose it; however, by the time he takes office, repealing Obamacare, which would be coming into effect at that time, just to subsequently to replace it would slow the processes of actually starting to save money and help people.
There is nothing proposed by Romney that differs from what the ACA will already do. And when describing what ACA does, Romney distorts the truth. The speech was politicized, dishonest, and done purely for show. With just over four months until election time, anyone mindful of politics ought to be on alert when listening to Romney talk about health care and the ACA. These and other claims are likely to rear their ugly head many more times.