From the Manchester Union Leader last week came word of an interesting development. In a debate, former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, who looks to regain her seat this fall, admitted that Obamacare — which she voted for two years ago — WON’T reduce health costs:
Shea-Porter said the Obama health care plan will slow the increase in health care costs, but no one should expect them to drop. “Everyone knows that costs go up. For him [Rep. Frank Guinta] to say health care costs should drop when nothing else ever drops, it’s just not accurate,” Shea-Porter said.
But Guinta said Congress should try to reduce health care costs. “I’ve yet to hear anyone say ‘Thank goodness for the Affordable Care Act because it slowed my (premium) increase,’” he said.
And the reason Rep. Guinta has yet to hear anyone say Obamacare has cut their premium increases is because the law hasn’t fulfilled its promise. Even fact-checkers have admitted this reality, when Politifact last month officially declared candidate Obama’s promise to “cut the cost of a typical family’s health insurance premium by $2,500 a year” a broken promise:
No cut in premiums for typical family
Back in 2008, we collected over 50 promises Barack Obama made about health care….When it came to health care premiums for the typical family, Obama said he would cut the annual cost by $2,500. Months before Obama took office, a New York Times reporter dubbed it one of the most audacious pledges of the campaign.
We reached out to David Cutler, an economist who advised Obama during the 2008 campaign and helped calculate the $2,500 figure that appeared in Obama’s speeches. He said the calculation encompassed total health care costs, not just premiums. These would include out-of-pocket costs, employer-provided insurance costs, and taxes to pay for public insurance programs.
Cutler acknowledged that Obama made “occasional misstatements” that tied the $2,500 reduction to premiums and not total medical spending. We can’t judge whether Obama misspoke, but we checked the Project Vote Smart database of public statements by politicians, which shows that Obama said premiums (and only premiums) would go down for the typical or average family by $2,500 repeatedly. You can see examples throughout the arc of his 2008 presidential campaign here, here, here, and here.
It is also true that Obama used the number in a more expansive context sometimes, such as here during a speech in Newport News, Va, and here in a response to a report about Medicare and Social Security.
The 2008 New York Times article explains how Cutler and his colleagues calculated the $2,500 figure, a round number based on back-of-the-envelope arithmetic.
“That number is much simpler than the world of insurance actually is,” said Deborah Chollet, a health economist for Mathematica Policy Research, a nonpartisan policy analysis group….
In our search for evidence that the law might reduce the typical family’s premiums, we contacted the Department of Health and Human Services, the federal agency implementing the law. The department could not provide proof that the average family would see a reduction, much less a $2,500 reduction.
In assessing this promise, we consider the following: An author of the $2,500 figure has disavowed its use as it relates to premiums alone. An independent health care analyst projects that premiums will go up for the typical family. The federal agency implementing the Affordable Care Act did not provide evidence that premiums will go down for the typical family. We rate this a Promise Broken.
The fact that Democrats — and even President Obama’s own Administration –acknowledge that the law won’t meet the President’s stated promise is yet another way that the promise of “hope and change” has evaporated for families struggling to pay their insurance bills.