Obamacare: How We Got Here

In the fight over the debt ceiling and shutdown, it’s important to remember that Obamacare was brought to us and is still supported by a string of deceptions and obfuscations. You should really read Megan McArdle’s breakdown of 11 pieces of conventional wisdom about Obamacare. Here’s an example:

4.Emergency room use will decline.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually seem to be true. In Massachusetts, ER visits actually rose post-Romneycare. It turns out that people use the ER for non-emergency care for a number of reasons — sometimes a painful-but-not-life-threatening condition like a urinary tract infection arises on a Saturday morning, and sometimes people who work for hourly wages don’t feel that they can afford to take off work to go to a doctor’s office. Or sometimes they have a primary care physician, but can’t get a timely appointment — a situation that got worse in Massachusetts after Romneycare passed.

McCardle leaves out some other things, such as the idea that preventative care will save us money (it won’t) or that electronic medical records will (they won’t). Both might save lives but they won’t save money.

But I’d like to focus on three particular lies that I consider the most egregious. The stuff McCardle talks about is wonky stuff that it hard to predict and about which there is some legitimate debate. But there are three claims about Obamacare that are not only false but were known to be false when they were uttered.

First, the initial promise of Obamacare was that it would save $2500 a year for every family. This was the claim that Obama made during his initial presidential campaign. It was recycled, without the specific number, to get it passed through Congress. In light of spiking insurance rates, this claim now seems laughable. HS has been reduced to touting that premiums will be “lower than expected” which sounds good, but actually means, they aren’t quite as bad as had been feared.

The claim that healthcare reform would immediately slice insurance rates was obvious garbage when Obama said it. Maybe, in the long run, healthcare reform will cut costs. But you simply can not expand insurance to millions of people and have costs go down. Reality doesn’t work that way. Maybe insuring those people is a good social goal; but that’s not how it was sold to us.

It gets worse. Last week, we found out that the whole “save money” thing was just a throwaway line in an Obama speech:

Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA [in January 2007], when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment.

Why not just announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term?…

“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.”…

The candidate jumped at it. He probably wasn’t going to get elected anyway, the team concluded. Why not go big?

It was months later that Obama became even passingly familiar with healthcare policy. Dan McLaughlin was right when he called this the most Obama thing ever.

The second falsehood we knew about was “if you like your insurance, you can keep it”. We’ve been over this before, so no point in rehashing it again. But it is worth remembering the changes to existing insurance policies was known when Obamacare was being debated. They knew this was incorrect; they knew it outlaws certain insurance policies. And they said it anyway.

This third lie, however, is the one I want to really talk about. When Obamacare was being debated, conservatives were pilloried (and labelled liars by fact-checkers) for claiming this was a government takeover of healthcare and a step toward socialized medicine. Liberal wags joked that if we thought Obamacare was socialism, we didn’t know what socialism was. We were outmoded hysterics. Even when we unearthed video of Obama bragging that single payer was the goal, we were bashed for taking him out of context or something.

But I’ve noticed something in the last few days. Suddenly, all the liberals who said we were crazy for thinking this would lead to single payer are … claiming this will lead to single payer. Their claim is that the fierce opposition to Obamacare is because conservatives are afraid the public will like it and demand single payer. Here‘s Bill Maher, in an awful op-ed I plan to fisk later today. Here is Harry Reid. Check out the comments of every liberal blog out there. The claim that was once dismissed as conservative hysteria is now being touted as the major reason for Obamacare’s awesomeness.

So … let’s sum up. We claimed that Obamacare would be expensive, would change insurance and would be a step toward socialism. We were branded liars and hysterics by people who knew everything we said was right. And now they’ve turned those memes around to support Obamacare.

And they think we’re dishonest.

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  1. AlexInCT

    So … let’s sum up. We claimed that Obamacare would be expensive, would change insurance and would be a step toward socialism. We were branded liars and hysterics by people who knew everything we said was right. And now they’ve turned those memes around to support Obamacare.

    Why do you hate the sick, the elderly, and the children, you monster? And we all know you are against Obamacare because Obama is black, you racist, and because you hate women, you misogynist, greedy bastard. Your money is not yours: it belongs to the collective, and hence the state. Anyone that opposes this blessing from our powers from above is in league with the devil himself.

    /progtard off

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  2. AlexInCT

    Also, Reid is making a bigger asshat out of himself than he regularly is with his attempt to paint the republicans trying to defund Obamacare as something unprecedented, when this cock gobbler tried to defund something himself once upon a time.

    This whole thing would be a comedy if it wasn’t so tragic that these people are hell bent on fucking us over with this terrible law.

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  3. Seattle Outcast

    From the article:

    4.Emergency room use will decline. When health care wonks want to reach for an example of useless care, they inevitably settle on back surgery.

    Useless? Uh, sure, I call being able to walk again without debilitating pain “useless”….what the hell are these idiots talking about?

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  4. Mook

    This third lie, however, is the one I want to really talk about. When Obamacare was being debated, conservatives were pilloried (and labelled liars by fact-checkers) for claiming this was a government takeover of healthcare and a step toward socialized medicine. Liberal wags joked that if we thought Obamacare was socialism, we didn’t know what socialism was. We were outmoded hysterics. Even when we unearthed video of Obama bragging that single payer was the goal, we were bashed for taking him out of context or something.

    Good post. I’ll add one more high profile item to your list that you may or may not agree with – the dreaded DEATH PANELS. Sarah Palin was endlessly mocked and ridiculed by Obama over her “bogus” claim, mocked by media elites, RINOS and Democrats over her prediction that Obamacare would necessitate govt. death panels. Well now fast forward 3 years and even Democrats like Ron Barber, Mike Pryor and Elizabeth Esty are calling for the repeal of Obamacare’s “cost-cutting board” aka death panels, because they know damn well that the purpose of that board is to decide who gets what treatment.

    Problem is, govt. healthcare is not limitless, so the govt. MUST ration. And because it is government, it will ration inefficiently based on political motivations for political favoritism. Palin saw the writing on the wall.

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  5. Seattle Outcast

    At the time they had to draw attention away from the fact that those counties that practiced socialized medical ALL have said “death panels”, those that decide which little girl doesn’t get a transplant, when mom is just too much of drunk to put on the months-long waiting list for formerly routine surgery, and when granpa’s BMI says that he doesn’t work out enough to deserve chemotherapy.

    Mocking Palin for her poor choice of worlds on something she was dead-on right about was nothing more than deflection.

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  6. CM

    “At the time they had to draw attention away from the fact that those counties that practiced socialized medical ALL have said “death panels”, those that decide which little girl doesn’t get a transplant, when mom is just too much of drunk to put on the months-long waiting list for formerly routine surgery, and when granpa’s BMI says that he doesn’t work out enough to deserve chemotherapy.”

    I’ve never heard of any such panel here, where we have “socialised medicine”. Transplants are carried out when organs are available. Surgery lists aren’t determined by moral judgements, and if chemo is the best treatment then the patient gets chemo. Yes there are finite funds. But within which system are funds not finite?

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  7. AlexInCT

    But within which system are funds not finite?

    The main reason people that want Obamacare (free shit) here in the US are so pissed at the existing system is precisely because they resent that they get told that resources are finite. That and evil profits! The proponents, and the people that expect free shit from the proponents of Obamacare, have changed the narrative to make healthcare a right, not the privilege it is, because they do not like being told that considering the finite resources and the need to pay for them, there will be no free shit.

    I am surprised to hear you admit that there are finite resources, CM, since I recall you being one of the people saying healthcare was a right back when we were debating the passing of this horrible bill. If I am incorrect about that, I apologize. But you will have to admit that if you think healthcare is a right, and you believe resources are finite, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Choices will have to be made and some people are going to get screwed if they are supposed to get healthcare because you believe it is a right.

    Seriously, if they wanted to fix healthcare in the US it would be easy. Catastrophic coverage, and I will even allow for this to be in the hands of government, for all, and everyone out on their own for healthcare coverage otherwise. The government can set up a system that is less complicated to deal with the people with bad and costly conditions. Of course, this system stands no chance because it doesn’t lend itself to massive graft and doesn’t give the politicians the power something like a single payer system would.

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  8. richtaylor365

    “http://www.usdebtclock.org/”

    I have seen that chart before but in examining it more carefully this time, much data is provided and everyone should take a good hard look at it. The most salient stat for me, “Liability per taxpayer”, it is lights out plain and simple, we will not recover from this, period.

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  9. CM

    “The main reason people that want Obamacare (free shit) here in the US are so pissed at the existing system is precisely because they resent that they get told that resources are finite. That and evil profits! The proponents, and the people that expect free shit from the proponents of Obamacare, have changed the narrative to make healthcare a right, not the privilege it is, because they do not like being told that considering the finite resources and the need to pay for them, there will be no free shit.”

    Personally I don’t think it’s a ‘right’, but I’m happy to live somewhere that has a good system in place. I don’t think the majority of people here just ‘expect free shit’ (although of course it can always be spun as such), it’s much more about sort of society they want to live in.

    “I am surprised to hear you admit that there are finite resources, CM, since I recall you being one of the people saying healthcare was a right back when we were debating the passing of this horrible bill.”

    I don’t think so.

    “If I am incorrect about that, I apologize. But you will have to admit that if you think healthcare is a right, and you believe resources are finite, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Choices will have to be made and some people are going to get screwed if they are supposed to get healthcare because you believe it is a right.”

    As a nation we (as in all countries that allow their citizens to decide via the ballot box) get to choose what sort of healthcare system we have, just as we get to choose what sort of education system we have.
    I’m not sure that it HAS to be a case of being stuck between a rock and a hard place (requiring medical attention?!). It IS possible to design an affordable system. Affordable in the sense that tax rates are still reasonable and the healthcare service provided is still decent (and there is the option to pay for private and get “the best” if you don’t want to use the public system). The poor still get decent healthcare, and the rich can get the level of healthcare they want.

    “Seriously, if they wanted to fix healthcare in the US it would be easy. Catastrophic coverage, and I will even allow for this to be in the hands of government, for all, and everyone out on their own for healthcare coverage otherwise. The government can set up a system that is less complicated to deal with the people with bad and costly conditions. Of course, this system stands no chance because it doesn’t lend itself to massive graft and doesn’t give the politicians the power something like a single payer system would.”

    Sounds reasonable to me.
    Much like with guns I have no opinion on the US system to offer (because it’s entirely your choice) but I do get interested when people start making comparisons to other countries (including mine) which don’t reflect reality. (BTW don’t you find it amazing how those who criticise non-Americans for joining in discussions about what is happening in America have no issue claiming expertise about what happens in other countries…)

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  10. CM

    My point is that decisions are made irrespective of the system. Partly these decisions are going to be made based on cost, no matter what the system. Private healthcare certainly doesn’t have unlimited resources, particularly given the need to provide ongoing attractive dividends to shareholders.
    It would be good to have some actual examples where ‘death panels’ have actually consigned people to death, when they would have had necessary treatment under a private system (which they could have afforded, otherwise the example obviously doesn’t work). For pre-existing conditions where people can’t get private healthcare insurance, a ‘death panel’ would surely be better (because what is worse than nothing)?

    We have a hybrid system, as I say. I went to the GP yesterday (at 2.45pm, booked it at 4pm the previous day) and it cost me $38 for the appointment and $12 to pick up the prescription. So I still had to pay $50.
    Kids 6 and under are free. My eldest is 7 next week, so we’ll have to start paying for him (not that he ever needs to go, although we thought he’d broken a bone so we went to an A&E centre one weekend and got x-rays within 30 mins and that was free.

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