PoliGraph: Claims about Obamacare

This week, the Supreme Court upheld a critical part of the Affordable Care Act that allows people to get subsidies when they buy insurance on the federal exchange.

The decision came down to four words, which the plaintiffs argued allowed only people buying insurance through state-based marketplaces, like Minnesota’s MNsure, to get the money.

Minnesota’s Washington, D.C., delegation was split on the ruling, with Republicans opposing it and Democrats applauding it.

This week, PoliGraph looked at claims on both sides of the issue.

  1. Listen PoliGraph: June 26

The Evidence:

poligraph-misleading“The President’s health care law has led to higher costs [and] fewer jobs. – 2nd District Republican Rep. John Kline.

Kline points to multiple sources to back up his claim.

The first a highly publicized report that roughly 140,000 Minnesotans would no longer be able to buy their current insurance plan on the individual market once the new Obamacare rules kicked in.

Technically speaking, those Minnesotans were not kicked off their plan because state law doesn’t allow it. But they did get letters from their insurance companies saying that their particular set of benefits was no longer available and that they would have to enroll in a new – and often more expensive – plan that meets the basic requirements of the Affordable Care Act, like ambulatory and hospital coverage.

So, some Minnesotans had to pay more for coverage, but that’s because their old plans were barebones. For many people buying insurance on MNsure with the help of subsidies, health insurance was more affordable.

Generally, most Minnesotans get their health insurance through their employer and may have seen no cost increases as a result.

Kline also says that the law has meant fewer jobs.

This is much more difficult to back up, and it’s a talking point that fact-checkers all over the country are routinely skeptical of.

Generally speaking, the economy has been adding jobs.

Kline’s point is that there are some new rules in the law, including one that requires small employers to provide coverage, that could lead to layoffs and moving more people to part-time positions.

But even that talking point, which has been echoed repeatedly by other Republicans, is largely anecdotal. A recent report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said that “there is no compelling evidence” that part-time employment has increased because of Obamacare.

That same report also predicts the labor force participation rate will go down by 1.5 to 2 percent, not because jobs are being cut, but because people – like those who are on the edge of retirement who are working partly to get employer insurance – will be able to find coverage through the exchanges, and quit their jobs as a result.

Other talking points on this front include the impact of a medical device tax on businesses as well as and older poll that indicates slower hiring among small businesses because of concerns over health care costs.

But again, Kline said the law has led to “fewer jobs,” and aside from some anecdotes, there’s not much evidence to support this.

Taken as a whole, Kline’s claim is misleading at best.

 poligraph-accurate“Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the nationwide uninsured rate has been cut by about 30 percent. In Minnesota, the effects have been even more profound, cutting the uninsured rate nearly in half, from 8.2 percent to 4.9 percent.  In other words, because of the Affordable Care Act, 95 percent of Minnesotans now have health insurance” – 1st District Democratic Rep. Tim Walz

It’s true that the number of uninsured has been cut by about 30 percent. That amounts to 16.4 million people who have gotten insurance since open enrollment started in Oct. 2013. The biggest gains have been among Medicaid participants because of changes in who is eligible for the program.

In Minnesota, which is among states that expanded Medicaid eligibility, the number of uninsured has dropped from 445,000 people – about 8.2 percent of the population – to about 264,500, or about 4.9 percent of the population.

Walz’s claim is accurate.

  • RegEx

    You say that Walz’s claim is accurate. However, if you don’t conflate the ideas of insurance with welfare, it is NOT accurate. Medicaid is NOT insurance. Insurance is a program whereby a person joins a pool of insureds to mitigate risk.

    Medicaid is welfare, where taxpayers pay for the health care costs of another. They should not be confused as in one instance a person pays a fee to mitigate risk for himself or someone else. Under a welfare program, however, taxpayers have their money taken by force which is then used to pay for the care of another.

    In a Welfare program like Medicaid there is no risk management. The state generally agrees to pay for it all. The rest of us have to pay substantial deductibles and copays.

    Just setting the record straight on that point.

    • kevins

      so…I am uncertain of your point. You contrast “welfare” with “the rest of us”. Sounds like you have something to say, but what you are saying is unclear

      • RegEx

        The point I’m making is that those of us who buy our own insurance, without subsidies, also have to buy Medicaid (welfare) for the poor. I wouldn’t mind, except I’m 60 years old with no hope of ever retiring because I have saved very little money for having pay taxes that then fund other people’s lives.

        I’m not a selfish person, but at 60, working 15 hours a day,usually six days a week, I’d like to be able to fund my own retirement before being forced to pay for other people’s welfare benefit. I don’t mind working for what I get but I do mind my money being taken to give benefits to people who do not work.

        • MiMg

          so you are jealous of the poor I guess

          • RegEx

            No. I’m just tired of the lying. We’re spending vast sums of money and health care is not improved, it is worse. If you have Medicaid coverage, taxpayers are paying for it, but you are STILL getting your primary care at the ER because providers, smartly, have refuse to accept the basement bottom payments for Medicaid.

            If you have a commercial plan through the exchange your deductible and copay are almost certainly higher than you had before; and if you’re a young person you are probably paying double for the premiums. EXCEPT if you’re being subsidized, in which you’re paying some and the taxpayers are borrowing some from your grandkids.

            And the politicians will never let go of any of it because it gives them political power. And the “stupid American voter” simply doesn’t know any better. AS DESIGNED.

          • kennedy

            Some facts to educate “stupid American voter”s:

            Taxpayer funding for Medicaid is roughly $5500 per participant each year. The program supports 66 million Americans.

            Taxpayer funding for Medicare is roughly $6600 per participant each year. The program supports 54 million Americans.

            Taxpayers are footing the bill for medical coverage for the elderly and disabled as well as the poor. The elderly and disabled get slightly more taxpayer support per person than the poor.

            Note: The total annual expenditure for Medicare is roughly $10100 per participant, but taxes collected previously from the participants cover roughly $3500 of the benefit.

          • MiMg

            then STOP LYING ReTHUGlicans!

        • Thomas

          If only someone running for president or congress supported a Living Wage for all Americans.

    • MiMg

      no you aren’t setting the record straight at all. You are spreading hate towards poor and low income people

  • MiMg

    Tens of Millions of Americans were uninsured, something had to be done

    • RegEx

      Tens of Millions of Americans still are uninsured; in fact, almost as many as before. Does something have to be done about them,too? And where are you going to get the money to do it?

      • MiMg

        MOST employee who works at Walmart, McDonalds, Target, Burger King, Kmart, Taco Bell, etc are NOT even OFFERED ANY benefits!