For the past three years, the GOP conservatives have been best known for their destructive tactics in their efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Whether by attempting to kill it in a legislative approach, or damaging its reputation and public image among many Americans who are not well familiar with its anticipated consequences. The law that was passed in 2010 with no single Republican vote, aims to provide 30 million uninsured Americans an access to affordable, quality healthcare, and eventually help the skyrocketing medical costs to cool-off and stabilize. As good as it sounds, the law sparked a controversy among politicians that never ended till this day, facing a major obstructionism, and opposition from the right-wing conservatives who claim the law is “un-American” and “unconstitutional” despite the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law. We have always discussed and criticized the republicans for using their political power as a majority holders in the house of representatives in attempting to repeal the ACA (Obamacare) for 46 times, which every single attempt has failed to do so, even their last standoff when they shutdown the government, costing the taxpayers nearly $24 billion dollars, over defunding the law has made Ted Cruz, the plan’s master, a sore loser.
However, even though the law has survived the GOP in congress, the threat is not over. What Obamacare needs for its success is millions of people signing up for health insurance through the exchange website, mainly young adults and healthy individuals who will help balance the law’s costs with their monthly premiums. The problem here is that the public is overwhelmingly uninformed about the law, and the GOP is taking advantage of this fact by spreading false or exaggerated information and numerous rumors about the healthcare law. The key for Obamacare’s success is informing as much Americans as possible, realizing what is true and what is false about the law. To do so, we need to take a look on what type of false information we hear from the conservatives. So, here is a list of what the GOP loves to hear and say about Obamacare.
First Myth: Americans don’t want Obamacare.
The Republicans’ hostile rhetoric regarding the law is driven from the belief that Obamacare is unpopular among Americans, but is that true?. Well, it is true that more Americans are opposing the law than supporting it as many polls have shown, but those are not the majority. The Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that 43 percent of Americans oppose the law versus 39 percent who supports it. While 17 percent are either unsure or unfamiliar with the law. This margin is even closer among uninsured Americans as 39 percent support, 35 percent oppose, and 26 percent remain unsure. According to these numbers, we can’t really say that Americans are opposing the healthcare law as we have nearly half of the nation supporting it. Another point that is worth to mention is the fact that other polls find Americans to be overwhelmingly unfamiliar with the law as Gallup poll found that nearly 7 in 10 uninsured Americans are not familiar (%47 are not familiar “at all”) with the law changes, precisely the exchanges provision. How can we decide and speak for the public’s will against the law, if the public is overly uninformed, and in many cases, misinformed.
Obamacare v.s. Affordable Care Act.
There is one fascinating fact about the public views on the overall law. It seems there is less opposition to the Affordable Care Act than “Obamacare”. A CNN poll found that attaching the president’s name to the law would both increase the opposition and support for the law. While using the law’s official name, the Affordable Care Act would decrease the opposition to only 37 percent and the support to just 22 percent. What about the rest?. Surprisingly, 30 percent of respondents don’t even know what is the Affordable Care Act. The disconnect between what Americans hear and what they actually think does not stop here. When the ACA (Obamacare) provisions are broken down, they are actually popular, way more popular than the whole law, gaining support from a real majority (more than 51 percent). Every provision, except the individual mandate, is quite favorable by the public. The graph here was created by Third Way, to illustrates how Americans really feel toward the ACA. The data are also from the Kaiser Family Foundation poll on March of 2012.
As it shown here, 11 out of 12 provisions are favorable by at least 51 percent. Expansion of Medicaid is favored by a super-majority of of 70 percent. Yet, almost every Republican-run state refused to expand the Medicaid to their poorest residents. The graph also explains who will be affected the individual mandate, and what portion of the population would be required to purchase a health insurance without any assistance from the government which is only 2 percent. Whenever the term “Obamacare” comes up, people directly think about the individual mandate, and think of it as a large government-run insurance plan that requires everyone in the nation to sign up for, otherwise they would pay a fine. This is not true at all, there is no government-run insurance company, nor there is a government plan, and not everyone is required to pay a fine, people with low income who live in a state that refused to expand Medicaid, and cannot afford affordable insurance rates even after subsidies are exempt from paying the penalty.
Second Myth: Insurance Premiums Will Increase under Obamacare.
The ACA was designed to help lowering the annual medical costs by enrolling 30 million new customers to health insurance companies, many of them are healthy, young individuals. Also, by creating a sense of competition among the health insurers through the exchange marketplace. However, it is estimated that rates will continue to rise for the coming years, it is not necessarily due to Obamacare provisions, in fact, healthcare premiums have been rising for more than two decades now, way before the Affordable Care Act, reasons can be blamed for inflation, or the profit-motivated market, and covering the medical costs of the millions who are unable/unwilling to pay their medical bills. There is, however, an increase in premiums for one portion of the population, the young adults. The law was designed to raise the young adults premiums – according to their income – to help lower/balance the costs of older patients who need a constant medical care.
These two charts shows the average annual increase in premiums throughout the decade. Apparently premiums were skyrocketing each year at a faster rate than the average growth of wages, even before President Obama was elected as a senator from Illinois in 2005, and an entire decade before his presidential inauguration in 2009.
A survey from Kaiser Family Foundation published by the New York Times found the climb in insurance rates for this year were the modest in a decade. An average of 4 percent increase, compared to roughly an average of 10 percent a decade ago. However, the Kaiser Family Foundation stated that its unknown whether the ACA was behind moderate increase or not.
Third Myth: Marketplace glitches indicate the law’s failure.
Now this is the right-wing’s new favorite. They’ve been citing the website’s technical problems as a failure of the whole law, and an example of the federal government’s “inefficiency”. The website is having a problem, that is a fact, but why did this happen in the first place? Simply, this is what happens when millions of uninsured from states that refused creating their own exchange website flow at the same time to the federal- facilitated website. If this is a sign for anything, then its a sign of long anticipation for the law. Unlike the federal website, the state-run marketplace are a success story. Despite few glitches that were fixed quickly, the websites are fully-operational, Young Progressive Voices have already covered a story on California’s exchange marketplace, discussing the ease of use, and the affordable options for families that could cost as little as $1. In the first week of their launch, from Oct 1 to Oct 5, nearly 28,000 Californians, 41,000 New Yorkers completed their sign-up process despite the glitches. However, those two very-liberal, Democratic-run states are not the best success story of the law. Surprisingly, the red, bible-belt state of Kentucky is. Yes, the home state of Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, the Tea Party members and strong opponents of the law is seeing its residents sign up in a rate of more than 1,000 application per day, in the first week of open enrollment, about 8,500 Kentuckians have applied, and another 7,000 application that have not been submitted yet. Kentucky is a great reflection of the law’s success, thanks to its Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, who used his political power to fight the GOP controlled state-senate. Kentucky is the only Southern state that expanded medicaid and opened a state-run exchange marketplace.
Fourth Myth: Obama is exempt from the ACA.
Anyone who believes this apparently knows nothing about the law. First of all, people who are already covered through employers are exempt from the individual mandate, or in other words, they have already satisfied the individual mandate requirement since they have a health insurance, and President Obama already has a health insurance through the federal government. Secondly, everyone, including the president, is essentially participated in the ACA. The law has more provisions than just the individual mandate. No one can be denied of coverage for pre-existing condition, children can stay on their parents’ plan up to the age of 26, and preventative care is mostly free. These benefits are applied for all Americans, with no exception.
Fifth Myth: Obamacare is killing jobs and bad for small businesses.
They are so confidant about this scenario that they repeat saying it over and over to frighten the business owners. Not only projecting, but Congressman Rodney Davis from Indiana has actually stated Obamacare is costing Americans jobs, mainly small businesses jobs. Well here is a fact, the business mandate has been delayed to 2015, so businesses with more than 50 employees are not required to purchase a health plane for their employees until 2015. So, companies do not have cut workers’ hours, stop hiring new workers because they have a whole year to figure out how to insure their employees. Also, one provision of the ACA is tax credits for small businesses that provide insurance for their employees, how is that a bad thing? I thought what Republicans care the most about is tax incentives and breaks to businesses.
Moreover, many are claiming the law is hurting the health insurance industry, an industry that is vital in our economy, affecting thousands of jobs. Well, investors always seems to know where the market is heading, if this claim was true, then investors would neglect the healthcare stocks in the market, but instead they are soaring 30 to 40 percent since the healthcare reform was signed into law. If it was a government takeover, a socialist law that is designed to bankrupt the industry, would investors continue buying shares in healthcare companies? What they actually see is a 30 to 40 million extra customers who will gain access to doctors and hospitals, and thus, a booming sector with all the dollars these new customers will bring in.
There are tremendous other lies, myths, and rumors that are circulating the Internet, television, and radio shows. From the death panels to funding abortion and granting illegal immigrants healthcare access. They might have lost the legislative war, but they are still fighting the law with these rumors. Ironically, during the 16 days of federal government shutdown over the healthcare law, the Republicans approval ratings sunk to record low, while Obamacare’s popularity soared 7 points from its last poll. The uptick in the law’s support comes a week after the open enrollment day, despite the glitches, people might be finally judging the law by what they see, not what they hear.