PoliGraph: Kline health care tweet holds up

poligraph-accurateWhile President Barack Obama was in town this week for a speech, Minnesota 2nd Congressional District Republican Rep. John Kline used the opportunity to ask him some pointed questions — over Twitter.

Kline’s claim is spot on.

The Evidence

Kline is correct that Obama promised that premiums would drop by $2,000 – by $2,500 in fact – for an average family.

That’s a promise Obama made over and over again on the campaign trail, one that PolitiFact’s Obameter says has been broken.

While it’s true that premiums have declined for some people, there’s plenty of evidence that the Affordable Care Act has caused premiums increase now that the law is in full affect. The main reasons are that insurance companies can no longer reject customers who have preexisting conditions and insurance must cover some basic services, like hospitalizations, maternity care and prescription drugs.

All that adds up to pricier plans for people who previously had bare-bones plans.

The rest of Kline’s statement refers to a report recently issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The administration predicts that roughly two-thirds of small businesses that offer health insurance will pay more for coverage.

Here’s what the CMS report says:

“We are estimating that 65 percent of the small firms are expected to experience increases in their premium rates while the remaining 35 percent are anticipated to have rate reductions. The individuals and families that receive health insurance coverage from their small employer generally contribute a portion of the premium. For this analysis, if the employer premium increases, it is assumed that the employee contribution will rise as well.”

The reason? New rules that apply only to organizations with fewer than 50 employees that will make insurance more expensive for firms that have relatively healthy workers and cheaper for companies that have relatively unhealthy workers.

The rule is meant to prevent a situation where one employee’s expensive treatment sends everyone else’s premiums skyrocketing, too.

Like Kline, Republicans have been using the report to criticize Obamacare. Democrats point out that the criticism doesn’t account for substantial tax credits available to small businesses that meet certain size requirements.

The Verdict

For 140 characters, Kline doesn’t leave much out aside from the fact that some small businesses that see higher premiums may benefit from tax credits to bring those costs down.

But overall, Kline’s claim earns an accurate.


ABC News, New Study Underline Unfulfilled Promises of Health Care Bill

Kaiser Family Foundation, 2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey

CNN, Republicans Pounce on Obamacare Report; Democrats Cry Foul

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services,  Report to Congress on the impact on premiums for individuals and families with employer-sponsored health insurance from the guaranteed issue, guaranteed renewal, and fair health insurance premiums provisions of the Affordable Care Act

The Washington Post, Obama administration health laws new rules will increase costs for most small businesses

Minnesota Public Radio, 7 things to know about MNsure and the Affordable Care Act in 2014

Troy Young, spokesman Rep. John Kline

  • Ron Goldser

    Your assessment is correct–as far as it goes. The NEXT PARAGRAPH in the CMS Report reads:

    “There is a rather large degree of uncertainty associated with this estimate. The impact could vary significantly depending on the mix of firms that decide to offer health insurance coverage. In reality, the employer’s decisions to offer coverage will be based on far more factors than the three that are focused on in this report so understanding the effects of just these provisions will always be challenging. Using their Compare model, RAND analyzed the impact of the entire ACA on small group premiums and determined that the effect would be minimal.15 Further, note that the number of affected individuals will be smaller in 2014 because (i) a number of small group plans were renewed early, and (ii) about half of the states have allowed extensions to their pre-ACA rating rules under the transitional policy announced by CMS on November 14, 2013.”

  • MinnesotaCentral

    Hi Catherine,

    Once again, I have to disagree with your assessment.

    The Kline tweet is … well as Perry Mason would frequently say — “This entire line of questioning is incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial !”

    Simply put, the Kline tweet is drawing a conclusion from two different data considerations.

    A case study in logic, goes something like this :

    Jessie joins nine other people on an elevator — six males and for females.

    Jessie is right handed.

    All the men are right-handed.

    Therefore would you conclude that Jessie is a man ?

    Or, how about this one :

    John Kline is a human being.

    Women are human beings.

    Therefore, John Kline is a woman.

    That obviously is not true, yet a conclusion is being reached.

    John Kline has offered two pieces of data and you have reached a conclusion (which is the conclusion that he wanted you to reach.)

    First data point relates to price — $2000.

    Second data involves a subset of all participants in the ACA pool.

    Did President Obama say that all small businesses would receive a reduction of $2000 in premiums ?

    Or did President Obama say that his proposals would cut the cost of health care by up to $2,500 per family ?

    John Kline focused on Small Business and the recent the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimate that 65 percent of small firms will likely incur higher premiums this year under the Affordable Care Act. This translates into higher costs for 11 million people.

    However, the remaining 35 percent of small firms could see a reduction in their premium rates, which would reduce health insurance costs for 6 million people.

    Most importantly, the report did not specify how much rates would increase or decrease.

    No mention is made that small businesses with less than 50 employees are exempt … but employees may be now able to obtain coverage through the ACA.

    No mention is made that the cost increases may have been related to provisions of the ACA that John Kline said were good — but still drove up premiums.

    No mention of the fact that the price is set by the insurance industry … not by the government.

    If you were going to evaluate any of John Kline’s tweets, then the one that could have definitely been analyzed is :

    the Recent study reveals #ObamaCare med device tax killed 33,000 jobs.

    That claim has so many false premises that it is impossible not to call that one FALSE.

    Mac Hall