Friday, June 26, 2015

The folks up North are biggest winners in Obamacare decision

You may know that over 6 million people dodged a bullet with the U.S. Supreme Court’s King v. Burwell decision on Thursday, which allowed tax credits for policies bought on the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchanges to stay legal. What you may not know is that the people in Wisconsin that benefit the most from this decision aren’t in the two largest cities in Wisconsin (Milwaukee and Madison), but instead live in the 920 and 715 area codes.

As this analysis from Families USA shows, it’s actually the districts represented by anti-Obamacare Republicans Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble that have the state’s highest amount of recipients of tax credits for insurance from the Obamacare exchanges.

This makes some sense when you think about it, because those on the exchanges are people who make above the poverty level, so they don’t qualify for Medicaid under Wisconsin’s current thresholds. But they also don’t make enough so that they are disqualified for the tax credits, or that the tax credits are so small it’s not worth it (the website “Obamacare facts” has this calculator that allows you to play out scenarios). So despite the right-wing trope about how Obamacare is some kind of "giveaway to inner-city minorities on welfare", those who were most likely to be endangered by the right-wing’s Supreme Court lawsuit were the small-town working poor in Northern Wisconsin.

And our Gov is still willing to cause major uncertainty and peril to these constituents today, with his continued calls to “repeal and replace” the “destructive” ACA, one of many issues that Scotty seems to be behind the 2015 reality on for this week. If I was a Dem strategist, I might remind a lot of folks in that part of the state about how their Governor and their Congressmen were willing to throw away a great stabilizer in their lives just to score political points.

The New York Times’ Paul Krugman reflected on the upholding of the status quo for the Affordable Care Act, and noted that opponents such as Gov Walker have been continually wrong in their predictions of “Obamacare calamity” over the last 5 years.
What about costs? In 2013 there were dire warnings about a looming “rate shock”; instead, premiums came in well below expectations. In 2014 the usual suspects declared that huge premium increases were looming for 2015; the actual rise was just 2 percent. There was another flurry of scare stories about rate hikes earlier this year, but as more information comes in it looks as if premium increases for 2016 will be bigger than for this year but still modest by historical standards — which means that premiums remain much lower than expected.

And there has also been a sharp slowdown in the growth of overall health spending, which is probably due in part to the cost-control measures, largely aimed at Medicare, that were also an important part of health reform.

What about economic side effects? One of the many, many Republican votes against Obamacare involved passing something called the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, and opponents have consistently warned that helping Americans afford health care would lead to economic doom. But there’s no job-killing in the data: The U.S. economy has added more than 240,000 jobs a month on average since Obamacare went into effect, its biggest gains since the 1990s.

Finally, what about claims that health reform would cause the budget deficit to explode? In reality, the deficit has continued to decline, and the Congressional Budget Office recently reaffirmed its conclusion that repealing Obamacare would increase, not reduce, the deficit.
In other words, Obamacare is doing exactly what it was intended to do- expand accessibility to health insurance for many Americans while controlling premium costs and maintaining the current private insurance company model of coverage. It’s not everything I’d want (which is single-payer Medicare for all), but it’s an improvement over what we had.

And keeping Obamacare in its current form is a helluva lot better than the chaos and lack of controls on insurance companies and insurance costs that would result if someone like Scott Walker became president (STOP LAUGHING!) and had a GOP Congress wipe this law off the books. So please, Scotty- continue to try to run on “repeal and replace” for a law that’s working well, and has if anything, improved economic outcomes for people in this country.

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