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Despite woes Obamacare not in ‘death spiral’


    President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington.

WASHINGTON >> President-elect Donald Trump says that President Barack Obama’s health care law “will fall of its own weight.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan says the law is “in what the actuaries call a death spiral.”

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that “by nearly any measure, Obamacare has failed.”

The problem with all these claims: They are exaggerated, if not downright false.

As congressional Republicans prepare to repeal the health law, they are working to portray it as a mess of Democrats’ making, and themselves as the ones who will clean up that mess.

In the process they are exaggerating the law’s very real problems, according to health care experts, who largely believe that the Affordable Care Act’s troubles with high prices and lack of competition could be addressed with bipartisan solutions.

Republicans, who’ve gained political advantage from campaigning against the law since its passage in 2010, aren’t interested in playing along. Instead they’ve denounced the law and made the case to repeal it, although there are signs some are getting cold feet now that the reality is upon them.

Democrats, too, are guilty of rhetorical excesses around the health care law, often claiming that it’s working as intended while downplaying its flaws.

But with Republicans in the majority and driving the agenda, here’s a look at some of the GOP claims about the law, and how they compare with the facts:

TRUMP, RYAN AND MCCONNELL: The law will “fall of its own weight,” is in a “death spiral” and “has failed.”

THE FACTS: Experts agree that the law is not currently in a “death spiral,” an actuarial term that refers to a vicious cycle when rising insurance costs force healthy customers out of the marketplace, resulting in still higher prices, which cause even more customers to bail, etc., until the system collapses.

But some say that if the current situation continues, that is a likely or possible scenario. Health care premiums are jumping by double digits this year, and the health care marketplaces created by the law are short on the healthy consumers who make insurance companies profitable.

“It’s not a failure in that 20 million people or more have insurance that didn’t used to have insurance. Everything else, it’s too early to judge,” said economist Gail Wilensky, who ran Medicare under former President George H.W. Bush.

“To say that the exchange markets remain unstable and in turmoil is an appropriate statement,” she said. “To say that they’re in a death spiral really depends on what happens.”

The American Academy of Actuaries itself disputed the “death spiral” claim Monday. The group provided a statement from its senior health fellow asserting that high premium increases in many states this year “do not necessarily indicate that a premium spiral is occurring” and could be a one-time adjustment.

RYAN: “You cannot fix a fundamentally broken law; you’ve got to replace it.”

THE FACTS: Experts agree that Congress could fix the law’s problems, should it choose. Indeed many argue that some of the law’s problems can be traced to the decision by Obama and Democrats to push it through on a partisan basis — alienating Republicans who have refused ever since to participate in any attempt to tweak the law to improve it, as would be necessary with any program of such size and complexity.

Some predict that when Republicans get through with their repeal-and-replace effort, what it will really amount to will be an improved Obamacare — even if they don’t admit it.

The health care exchanges, for example, could be improved with changes aimed at getting more young and healthy people to sign up, such as giving insurers more flexibility to charge older people higher prices.

“You could, I think, relatively simply address the issues that the exchanges have,” said Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a health consulting firm, noting that other major programs including Medicare have been tweaked repeatedly since their creation. “If you freeze a program in a point of time, it is likely to have problems, and that’s exactly what’s happening.”

Bob Laszewski, a health care consultant, predicted: “Before this all ends they’re going to fix it … The Republicans are going to say they repealed and replaced, and the Democrats are going to say they fixed it.”

MCCONNELL: Obamacare “didn’t lower costs, it didn’t increase choice.”

THE FACTS: McConnell’s comments are true in part.

The first five years of Obama’s presidency saw historically slow growth in U.S. health care spending, though experts differ on whether the law had anything to do with that. Some credit the global recession. Individual consumers in the law’s marketplaces, meanwhile, face higher premiums this year, though subsidies protected most customers from the increases.

And while the Affordable Care Act did increase choice initially in the individual market, that is not the case now with brand-name insurers bailing out of the online state markets, although the many Americans with employer-based health coverage have been insulated from such changes.

In about one-third of U.S. counties, consumers in the individual markets don’t have a choice of plans.

“It depends for whom you’re talking about,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “For people with pre-existing conditions, choices are infinitely more abundant because they couldn’t get coverage at all. For someone who’s young and healthy there are likely fewer choices available now than before.”

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  • BO legacy = FAIL
    What has BO accomplished in 8 years that benefited a MAJORITY of Americans = ZERO
    Did BO make America better or worse = WORSE

    #MAGA coming to America on January 20th.

    ps….Don’t forget to set your DVR.

    • put obama and his family on obama care – take away their federal plan.
      Give congress and federal & state employees obamacare take away their contracted healthcare plan…

    • Had Bin Laden killed and started the concept that people should have health care. It needs to be fixed but it’s a step in the right direction.

      What did you do to get Trump elected JohnRicey? ZERO
      What have you done to MAGA JohnRicey? ZERO

      • @ el_burrito senorita
        Bin Laden dead did that benefit MAJORITY of Americans…be specific.
        OBAMACARE…the WORST law ever signed by ONLY Dems…needs to be fixed..are you serious! You guys threw the Baby out with the bath water…would not even work with the GOP…& this to cover 30 Million by screwing up ALL Americans! SO how did that benefit MAJORITY of Americans…be specific?!!!!!!!
        I worked on social media spread the word. In the end WE WON…YOU LOST in a LANDSLIDE…SO how did your VOTE work out?
        #MAGA Ihave contributed to the campaign with monetary donations. Did you donate to Crooked hiLIARy’s FOUNDATION…along with the SAUDIS?
        January 20 #MAGA

        • JohnRicey, JohnWhiteRicey

          Bin Laden being dead made a lot of people sleep better.

          So you don’t think it’s good for Americans to have health insurance? More evidence you aren’t so smart. If our country is healthy it’s better for everyone. Your contentions refuted.

          Yeah you spread the word to support an idiot.

          I was not thrilled with the thought of Hillary being President. I think Trump is going to be a train wreck, but as I wrote before, he won and he deserves a chance to show he can do the job. If Hillary won, would you be so willing? I don’t have that much of a problem with Trump winning because he won’t be a conventional President, but I have a problem with some of his brainless supporters.

        • “Eat CROW BURITTOS.” Word of advice Keonigohan; if you want to persuade people as to the rightness of your views, it helps to not insult them. You remind me of my uncle. In fact I’d think you were my uncle (he loved to rant online), but he’s dead. If anyone held different views from him (not just in politics; anything), he’d insult them, as you do. It cost him jobs, it cost him relationships. He died alone and broke. No one in the family even came to his funeral. Be careful; being so callous comes back to bite you in the end.

        • @ PoiDoggy
          Don’t need your advice nor want your advice. Save it for your family..who’s still alive.
          Advice for you…if you and the others would start to be civil I’d be the 1st in line to talk…got it?

        • @ el_buritto_senorita

          So America sleeps better? really? Is that all? You aren’t aware of all the lone wolf attacks all over the world including here in America?

          Healthcare…don’t put words in my mouth like how typical libs do just to spin it. You’ve been getting your info from CNN/MSM. obamacare is a FAILURE.
          You side designed it, ignore GOP ideas, placed it into law with NO GOP votes..only Dems. Now you demanding what the GOP is going to do to FIX YOUR OBAMACARE??!! Everyone wants Healthcare let’s see what PE Trump and Congress can do to fix it.

          PE Trump won and you’d give him a chance (America gave Obama 8 years). You also call him an idiot…and he’s going to be a train call his supporters brainless…so you speak thru both sides of your mouth.

          PoiDoggy…you reading this?

          Like I said I can be nice..if you place nice. But I can go the other way as well.

  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I think Barry Hussein’s signature legislation would have enjoyed much more support had he not repeatedly lied about keeping your doctor and your plan. It didn’t help that the ACA architect was caught saying passage of the bill relied on the st00pidity of the American voter. It also didn’t help that there was an individual mandate that criminalized non-compliance. Then there was the hiring of IRS “enforcers” in a nod to the Orwellian police state that Barry’s administration has become. Double digit premium increases and the failure of the state exchanges (Hawaii Health Connector) didn’t help either. Yep, other than the aforementioned the ACA is perfect.

  • Obamacare was sold on lies; remember those phrases “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” or the one “if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance,” or the one “cost will go down,” and so on and so on. The 20 millions it is touting included those who previously had insurance but are forced to get into this social welfare program because of what this tax law had. Grubber subjects bought the lies and this is what we have. If this was such a good tax law, how come the people who wrote it exempted themselves from getting into this health tax law–they lied, they knew it was bad and that is the reason they exempted themselves. After the tax law was passed, many labor unions were lining up to get exempted from the law as the details of this tax law(according to the Supreme Court)is coming into view….Gullible electorate were salivating for the lies.

    • Obamacare depended mainly on the contributions of a healthier younger population, which, if successful, would have somewhat tempered the dramatic premium increases. It appears too many in that category were unwilling to participate, for a variety of reasons, despite the penalties levied.
      i’m encouraged somewhat by Trump’s initial agreement that before gutting the ACA a reasonable alternative be presented as well. I don’t see a return to how it was as a viable solution, as too many deserving people may be cut off from the help they need.

        • Some possibly naive but obvious suggestions might include access to foreign drugs, reforming legal culpability, widening access to coverage even to include oversees involvement, tax credits for expenses, scaled premiums for demonstrable lifestyles, dramatic expansion of Physician’s Assistant use to include both training and responsibility, supporting increasing use of private residence care facilities, etc.
          Personally, I feel a society has an obligation to it’s young and it’s elderly that has to be maintained. Hopefully the GOP can come up with something that keeps that thought in mind.

  • The AP is still carrying the water for Obama, the only reason Obamadon’tcare isn’t dead yet is because of all the subsidies, and exceptions given to cronies. With the help of the liberal MSM, Obamadon’tcare is struggling to survive, especially as choice of plans has decreased, since health insurance companies have been pulling out, and premiums have skyrocketed. Millennials are not signing up, and the only people signing up are the poor, who don’t have to pay for it, older subscribers, who use it the most. So people who should be paying for the program, aren’t signing up and people who get more from the plans are and that is the death spiral.

    • Agree. Obamacare is not a problem because all of the rate increases for everyone is overpaying to mask and prevent the Obamacare from “collapsing on itself”. The same could be same for the Oahu train project. If it was not for all the extra BILLIONS Hawaii taxpayers are pouring into the the Oahu train project, it would have been shut down years ago due to lack of money and even if finished would serve no useful purpose as it would easily DOUBLE the commute time of W Oahu commuters (feeder bus/train/feeder bus commute solution) who currently use a single City Express! bus route from Kapolei/Ewa Beach directly to UH and Waikiki.

      • please don’t forget it was Mufi Hanneman and Kirk Caldwell who pulled a fast one on the citizens of Oahu. the estimators should be fired and the additional funds taken from the Unions – the original estimate was 3.5 billion. The city council is also responsible for this mess – they were bought by the Unions…

  • I had the funniest conversation with someone who said he was fine with them getting rid of “Obamacare,” from what he understood it was a terrible program. He’d be all right, he had coverage thru the Affordable Care Act. I told him it was the same thing. At first he didn’t believe me. We went to the computer and I showed him that “Obamacare” was the slang name they gave to the ACA. Now he’s terrified he’ll lose his health coverage!

  • What kind of “news” is this – sounds like an editorial opinion piece! I guess the media “echo chamber” hasn’t learned anything from its experience enabling Hillary’s “unexpected” defeat…

  • The problem, of course, is that Mr. Trump knows absolutely nothing about the ACA. Even who is covered by it.

    He stood at a microphone and lied about how many employees of his company were struggling with Obamacare issues. That was until the HR person at his company explained to reporters that Mr. Trump had misstated something because none of the employees were covered by Obamacare policies. Oops!

    Trump knows almost none of the things a President needs to know. Plus, he’s obviously mentally ill.

  • Proud of my fellow INFORMED Conservative Patriots & their postings.
    For the others who’s “Trying to Defend the Indefensible”…sigh

    January 20 #MAGA WeTheDeplorables made it happen! Congrats to us!!

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