When it comes to the
Or you can go with self-interested partisanship from the likes of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman
Let's start with Gallup, which on Wednesday issued its latest quarterly measure of America's uninsured population. Gallup says the uninsured rate for adults fell in the fourth quarter of 2014 to 12.9%, down from 13.4% in the third quarter and significantly down from 17.1% a year ago. The results are drawn from "more than 43,000 interviews with U.S. adults from Oct. 1 to Dec. 30, 2014, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index," Gallup says.
The uninsured rate among those 16 to 64 has fallen to 15.5% from 20.8% during 2014, Gallup says. Since there are about 200 million Americans in that demographic, the figure implies that Obamacare brought new insurance to nearly 11 million Americans. And that doesn't include the further increases due from signups for 2015. (Gallup's estimate tracks others from the Commonwealth Fund, the Rand Corp. and elsewhere.)
In a nutshell, "the Affordable Care Act has accomplished one of its goals: increasing the percentage of Americans who have health insurance coverage," Gallup says. The firm also anticipates a surge in enrollments because the ACA's requirement that businesses with 100 or more employees provide health insurance to 70% of their workers kicked in on Jan. 1. Penalties for individuals going without health insurance are also higher this year.
For ideologues like Ryan, this all translates into a "fundamentally broken" law. In an op-ed in Wdnesday's USA Today (bad timing), Ryan writes, "
"Obamacare lets bureaucrats decide what insurance plans must cover," Ryan writes. "And it adds a whole host of new taxes and fees that drive up the cost of care." Yes. The law dictates what insurance plans must cover; it mandates, in fact, that insurance actually offer value by meeting minimum benefit standards.
As for that "host of new taxes and fees," there's no evidence that they "drive up the cost of care"; instead, they cover the cost of bringing insurance to millions of Americans who haven't had affordable insurance, by providing them with substantial subsidies. The Department of Health and Human Services calculates that 87% of the enrollees who chose a health plan via the government's healthcare.gov exchange are eligible for subsidies. These are people, plainly, who don't figure in Ryan's estimate of the costs and benefits of Obamacare.
As we reported in November, this change is nothing short of a full-bore attack on the working class. There are 10.2 million workers notching 30 to 34 hours a week, or 7.4% of the workforce; this is the group most vulnerable to being pared back to less than 30 hours a week, if their employers are intent on circumventing the law.