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“Stunning New Report Undermines Central GOP Obamacare Claim”: The Arguments Made By Republicans Simply Lack A Firm Factual Basis

A crucial GOP line of attack against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that millions of people will supposedly lose coverage thanks to shifting requirements on the health insurance exchanges — a flagrant violation of President Obama’s infamous “if you like your plan, you can keep it” proclamation. The truth has always been more complicated, of course. Republicans are constantly blurring the line between people who lose a plan and people who lose coverage. That is, many people might lose a particular insurance plan but immediately be presented with other options.

Now, a new report from the minority staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has destroyed the foundation of that particular GOP claim. It projects that only 10,000 people will lose coverage because of the ACA and be unable to regain it — or in other words, 0.2 percent of the oft-cited 5 million cancellations statistic.

The report starts with an assumption that 4.7 million will receive cancellation notices about their 2013 plan. (Notably it doesn’t endorse that figure, just takes it on for the sake of argument.) But of those, who will get a new plan?

  • According to the report, half of the 4.7 million will have the option to renew their 2013 plans, thanks to an administrative fix this year.
  • Of the remaining 2.35 million individuals, 1.4 million should be eligible for tax credits through the marketplaces or Medicaid, according to the report.
  • Of the remaining 950,000 individuals, fewer than 10,000 people in 18 counties will lack access to an affordable catastrophic plan.

“This new report shows that people will get the health insurance coverage they need, contrary to the dire predictions of Republicans,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the ranking committee member.  “Millions of American families are already benefiting from the law.”

The report is somewhat speculative, of course, since there is no central repository of data on the individual health insurance market. But the methods are clear, and the onus is now on Republicans to explain why it isn’t true.

As we’ve noted, Republicans have had an awful hard time finding people who completely lost coverage because of the ACA. (Think of the man who starred in Americans for Prosperity ads last week and whose story still hasn’t been fully explained.) Perhaps it’s because there just aren’t that many of them.

Of course, there’s no doubt that for those 10,000 people, the health-care law left them worse off than before. And by no means is the rocky political ride over for Democrats — back-end problems still present a serious threat to implementation. But as is sadly too often the case, the arguments made by Republicans simply lack a firm factual basis — and deserve much more scrutiny that they’ve received in many sectors of the mainstream press.


By: George Zornick, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, December 31, 2013

January 1, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“GOP Roots For Failure”: With Disturbing Frequency, Republicans Wish For Disaster On “The American People”

In theory, lawmakers should hope that government programs work well, and if they don’t, work to fix them. Elected representatives should hope that government agencies carry out their missions smoothly, and if something goes wrong, try to figure out what happened to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

Obviously that’s not how things work in the United States, where one of the two parties doesn’t actually believe in government. Republicans want to shrink government until it’s small enough to drown in a bathtub! They think there’s nothing scarier than the prospect of a government employee trying to help! With beliefs like those, it’s perhaps not surprising that — with disturbing frequency — they root for failure in order to score points.

Examples abound. After the attack in Benghazi, G.O.P. lawmakers were far more interested in laying blame and making the Obama administration look bad than in improving security for diplomats. In the midst of the I.R.S. scandal — which turned out not to be much of a scandal at all — Republicans seemed positively gleeful.

Which brings me to today’s House hearing on the bumpy rollout of the federal health insurance marketplace.

The rollout is bumpy, and inexcusably so. It appears that the federal exchange Web site wasn’t fully tested until two weeks before it opened. As today’s Times story put it, the online health insurance marketplace “is still limping along after three weeks.”

Lawmakers can and should hold the administration to account. But given that House Republicans have done everything in their power to try to dismantle the Affordable Care Act — including shutting down the entire government — it’s understandable that House Democrats expressed suspicion about their motives.

“I wish I could believe that this hearing is above board, but it’s not,” said Representative Frank Pallone, Democrat of New Jersey. “The Republicans don’t have clean hands coming here. Their effort is obviously not to make this better, but to use the website glitches as an excuse to defund or repeal Obamacare.”

Taking the same line, Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, said: “We have already documented a record of Republicans attempting to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.” He added, “If we want this law to work, we have to make this right; we’ve got to fix it. Not what the Republicans are trying to do: nix it and repeal it.”

Although some Republicans asked valid and thoughtful questions of the private contractors who’d come to testify, others seemed to prove Mr. Pallone and Mr. Waxman right.

Representative Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania, took the opportunity to say he would seek a delay in the individual mandate—exactly what Republicans wanted before there was any word of trouble with the online exchanges. is “nothing less than an unmitigated disaster,” Mr. Pitts said. He also wondered aloud if the people behind it were “simply incompetent” or else “lying to the American people.”

“If the Web site glitches are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon, “it’s only a matter of time before the law sinks and takes with it those Democrats who wrote it, voted for it and are proud of it.”

Breaking that down: If the glitches indicate deep problems, then health care reform will fall apart, and Republicans will reap the benefits in the next election. In other words, disaster would be good for his party.


By: Juliet Lapidos, Editors Blog, The New York Times, October 24, 2013

October 25, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, GOP | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Abdicating Responsibility”: When The Speaker Becomes The Bystander, Doing As Little Legislating As Possible

For generations, the balance of power will often shift between the House and Senate, for a variety of institutional and historical reasons. Occasionally, the shift is deliberate — one chamber will decide it doesn’t want the power.

This dynamic is on display right now. Sarah Binder recently published a fascinating item, explaining House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to do as little legislating as possible, making the Senate go first on just about everything. For Boehner, there’s no apparent downside — he and his caucus don’t get the blame if/when legislation fails; he and his caucus have veto power over key initiatives; and when measures are pending that Republicans don’t like, he and his caucus have time to rally the opposition while the Senate does all the real work.

What’s more, as Jonathan Bernstein explained, Boehner’s “Make the Senate go first” rule forfeits “their opportunity to affect the content of legislation,” but the House GOP caucus may not care since they’re a post-policy caucus anyway.

And all of this tends to work fairly well when the Senate, overcome by gridlock and obstructionism, can’t send the House anything to consider anyway, but what happens when the upper chamber starts to make some progress?

Long mired in bitter gridlock, two groups of Democratic and Republican lawmakers have hashed out once-unthinkable bipartisan solutions on gun control and rewriting the nation’s immigration laws.

But the rush to bipartisanship could grind to an abrupt halt in the House. Speaker John Boehner is once again trapped in a tough position….

Yes, that certainly is the downside to saying, “We’ll be glad to consider whatever the Senate passes.” Occasionally, the Senate actually passes something, leaving Boehner to ask, “What do we do now?”

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) told Politico, “It’s clear that the House Republicans have abdicated responsibility for legislation to the Senate.” Quite right. But if the Senate manages to act on gun safety and immigration, the flaws in this plan will become fairly obvious.

Postscript: I should mention, by the way, that the House could, in theory, play a constructive role in governing, but that would require Boehner to largely give up on the so-called “Hastert Rule.” This has already happened three times this year, and Sarah Binder noted a fourth that quietly happened yesterday.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 11, 2013

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Congress | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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