Death Of Another RW Talking Point, v. Twentygazillion

Obamacare is lowering healthcare costs, not increasing them:

Even as coverage efforts are sputtering, success on the cost front is becoming more noticeable. Since 2010, the average rate of health-care cost increases has been less than half the average in the prior 40 years. The first wave of the cost slowdown emerged just after the recession and was attributed to the economic hangover. Three years later, the economy is growing, and costs show no sign of rising. Something deeper is at work.

The Affordable Care Act is a key to the underlying change. Starting in 2010, the ACA lowered the annual increases that Medicare pays to hospitals, home health agencies and private insurance plans. Together, these account for 5 percent of the post-2010 cost slowdown. Medicare payment changes always provoke fears — in this case, that private plans would flee the program and that the quality of care in hospitals would suffer. Neither of these fears has materialized, however. Enrollment in private plans is up since the ACA changes.

The law also emphasized that payments should be based on the value, not the volume, of medical care. In a value-based system, compensation is made for the patient as a whole, not for specific services provided. As a result, eliminating services that are not needed is financially rewarded. The reaction to this change has been rapid: Hospital readmissions, which used to bring in substantial dollars, are now penalized.


Before he was criticized for his statements about insurance continuity, President Obama was lambasted for his forecasts of cost savings. In 2007, Obama asserted that his health-care reform plan would save $2,500 per family relative to the trends at the time. The criticism was harsh; I know because I helped the then-senator make this forecast. Yet events have shown him to be right. Between early 2009 and now, the Office of the Actuaries at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has lowered its forecast of medical spending in 2016 by 1 percentage point of GDP. In dollar terms, this is $2,500 for a family of four.

Looking ahead, there is every reason to believe that costs will continue to grow slowly, maybe even more slowly. A study in Massachusetts showed that ACO savings increase over time as organizations move into more areas that can slow cost growth. An analysis of exchange premiums estimated that insurance costs in the exchanges are 16 percent below what was forecast two years ago; the lower costs were attributed to competition from new entrants in the market.

If cost growth continues at its low pace, the cumulative savings to the federal government would be more than $750 billion over the next decade. Such savings are likely to dwarf anything that comes out of Congress this year.

Every time Republicans fearmonger about Obamacare, facts prove them wrong. Yes, the website was a problem. But the underlying fundamentals of Obamacare are working. Costs are slowing. And Republican governors have lost their main excuse for not expanding Medicaid.

Yet I just saw the Republican former governor of Virginia Jim Gilmore on my TV repeating about a hundred times that “there are no cost savings in Obamacare” and “costs are going up.” It’s simply not true. Just because you repeat something over and over again does not make it true, Republicans.

This is what I don’t understand about Republicans. This fact-free bubble in which they live and breathe, where they seem to think if they say something enough times it will magically become true? It’s not working for you guys. Facts are facts, wishing they weren’t so doesn’t change them. And none of these facts has anything to do with a crappy website.


Filed under healthcare

23 responses to “Death Of Another RW Talking Point, v. Twentygazillion

  1. gene108

    “Just because you repeat something over and over again does not make it true, Republicans.”

    I believe the media takes the Seinfeldian view of truth: It’s not a lie, if you believe it.

    Republicans believe Obamacare is raising costs, therefore they are not lying. If you are not lying there must be – if not truth – than at least some truthiness to it.

    Therefore this talking point will never die.

    Just like there are WMD’s in Iraq just east, west, north, and south of Tikrit will always be true, as long as Rumsfeld still believes it.

    • ThresherK

      Not to be a Seinfeld Purity Troll–lord knows there are a jillion better-versed fans of the show than I–but isn’t that better referred to as “Costanza Truthiness”?

  2. yutsano

    Costs are going up under Obummercare. The deficit is still rising. We will be greeted in Iraq as liberators. It’s just part of Karl Rove’s ever evolving making their own realities strategy, with a huge assist from Rushbo and Fox News.

  3. yutsano

    Costs are going up under Obummercare. The deficit is still rising. We will be greeted in Iraq as liberators. It’s just part of Karl Rove’s ever evolving making their own realities strategy, with a huge assist from Rushbo and Fox News.

  4. jazzbumpa

    It’s one of those zombie ideas. No matter how many times you kill it, it just keeps coming back.

  5. Mike G

    Fundamentalist religion conditions people to believe what they’re told, and to not question complete BS proves their loyalty to the tribe. In such an environment, “facts” are what their authorities tell them; the more outlandish garbage you believe, the more admirable your loyalty.

  6. Anniemouse

    I have to disagree that the fact-free bubble is not working for the Republicans. Sadly, it plays to a certain demographic of the USA. My elderly parents, who are on Medicare, complain bitterly about “gummit taking over health”. They believe everything Fox news tells them to believe. BENGAZI!!!!

    P.S. As a software engineer, I’ve worked on a lot of websites. My gut tells me what happened is last-minute changes to requirements, new requirements added at the 11th hour, and having to link to too many disparately-built systems that use databases with different fieldnames. I’ve worked on many a system where there was (office-level) politics and people who were determined the system would fail. That’s exactly what we have here, only on a national scale.

  7. Kosh III

    Let’s keep in mind that the website was done by PRIVATE contractors, not gov’t employees.
    This has happened locally with DCS, Transportation, TennCareBureau DHS and other state departments who have hired companies to design new programs which failed repeatedly. In the case of DHS, Xerox worked for 6 years(VIP) and spent 30 million only to have it be cancelled because it would not work.
    However, the corporate media took the word of the governor at face value when Haslam blamed state employees for being untrained. 😦 That is a large part of the problem: the corporate media favors the GOP.
    Yet the reich-wingers insist that private businesses are sooooo much better.

  8. Ariando

    It is possible that the Obamacare packages are over priced because the actuaries aren’t sure what utilization will be. They fear that the fist people signing up will be the sickest. However, if less than 80% of the premiums are used for actual service, refunds are required. Will the media highlight the refunds when/if they happen? Without the refund requirements, the profit would be added to CEO bonuses – Ferengi Style

  9. Jim in Memphis

    According to FactCheck the cost savings are not there at this time.

    Their report basically says the law is adding 1 to 3 percent to healthcare premiums. According to them, the law is not responsible for all of the increase in premiums, but it is a factor and it certainly is not a savings. Only Democrats could claim a small increase in something is actually a savings. So we could all save billions of dollars by spending trillions of dollars to hand out Medicad/Medicare for all? Who could actually believe something like that is true? Of course what you really mean is that some people could save a lot of money if they just took it from other people. Nothing wrong with that right?

    • Studio_Spotter

      You’re citing a report from 2011. The newest 2013 report shows a dramatic slowdown in health premiums. In fact its the slowest theyve seen…. ever!

      • Jim in Memphis

        Slower growth in cost still means an increase in cost. Obama said we would see a $2500 decrease for a family of four. Not a slow down in the increase – an actual decrease.

      • Read the fucking post, asshole:

        Between early 2009 and now, the Office of the Actuaries at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has lowered its forecast of medical spending in 2016 by 1 percentage point of GDP. In dollar terms, this is $2,500 for a family of four.

        Medical spending. Not growth. Medical SPENDING.

        You know, fright-wingers have been saying that everyone’s care would be rationed and Uncle Sam would be telling me which doctor I can see and there’d be death panels and IRS goons at the door and “rate shock.” And yet, problems with the website notwithstanding, these things haven’t happened. Guess your side was lying, Jim.

        Go fuck yourself. Twice.

      • Jim in Memphis

        SB – they are lowering a projected spending amount but the new amount will still be a growth in medical spending. Even with the new projection, spending will increase which is not what Obama promised. The promise was “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”

      • Read the fucking article, Jim. It’s a projection, set to be realized in 2016:

        Between early 2009 and now, the Office of the Actuaries at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has lowered its forecast of medical spending in 2016 by 1 percentage point of GDP. In dollar terms, this is $2,500 for a family of four.

        So your link from August 2012 is out of date.

        You just keep coming around here trolling, showing yourself to be am idiot. Do you get paid by the comment or something? Paid by the response? You aren’t doing yourself any favors.

        It is hilarious that you are even trying to argue this and it shows how weak the GOP is on this issue. The Republicans don’t even have a plan, even an idiot like Julia Hurley can see it. If Republicans had their way we’d have cancerous growth in healthcare costs, continuing to eat into income gains and GDP. And that’s supposed to be better? But … freedom!

        You seriously have to be brain-dead to even try to argue this point.

      • Jim in Memphis

        I have glanced through the reports for the last three years and I do not see where this projection for 2016 takes place. The 2010 report predicts 18.6% of GDP being spent on healthcare. The 2011 report predicts 18.3% and the 2012 report predicts 18.4% for 2016. All of these represent an increase in actual dollars spent on healthcare. All of the reports indicate that the ACA will increase the amount spent on healthcare:

        From the 2012 report:

        “Improving economic conditions, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage expansions, and the aging of the population, drive faster projected growth in health spending in 2014 and beyond.
         Expected growth for 2014 is 6.1 percent, as 11 million Americans are projected to gain health insurance coverage, predominantly through either Medicaid or the Health Insurance Marketplaces.
         Average annual projected growth of 6.2 percent per year is projected for 2015 through 2022, largely as a result of the continued implementation of the ACA coverage expansions, faster projected economic growth, the aging of the population, and the end of the sequester. While projected growth is faster compared to recent experience, it is still slower than the growth experienced over
        the longer-term history.
         By 2022, the ACA is projected to reduce the number of uninsured people by 30 million, add approximately 0.1 percentage-point to average annual health spending growth over the full projection period, and increase cumulative health spending by roughly $621 billion.
         Health spending is projected to be 19.9 percent of GDP by 2022.”

      • Those links are to Medicare and Medicaid data. I have a life and don’t have time to plow through the data or even to see if it’s relevant to this conversation. Also, I’m not an expert on health data. Neither are you. You’re an engineer. I’ll take an engineer’s advice over health data the same day I’ll have my fucking OB/GYN figure out how to fix a goddamn bridge.

        I’ve seen RWers like Chris Conover link to those same CMS reports, BTW. So here we are again: you post your links, we post ours. What is the point in this? You spread your politically-skewed talking points crafted by Newt fucking Gingrich, we point out where you are wrong, you come back with some 2 year old Heritage Foundation data, we come back with our Kaiser Foundation data, back and forth it goes, it never ends. You’re not changing anyone’s mind over here, we’re not changing yours. All you are doing is making people angry. Really, this is fruitless.

        Guess what, we get it. YOU DON’T AGREE. Got it. Duly noted.

        Here’s what we’re doing: you’re going to shut the fuck up and we’re going to wait and see what happens. The fact that everything seems to be working well in states where people actually want it to work and aren’t trying to obstruct the law of the land should give you a general idea of how things are all going to shake out in a year or so.

      • Jim in Memphis

        Now you are complaining that the reports cited in the article you posted don’t agree with what the author says? He was the one that mentioned CMS forecasts. Those are the government estimates on healthcare spending not just Medicare and Medicaid.

      • No that’s not what complaining about. I’m complaining about the politicized interpretation of data. I’ve seen those idiotic posts over at Hot Air. Again, I’m going to let the experts decide this stuff, not fucking Michelle Malkin.

        Jim, every time I engage you I feel like a horrible person. You’re a troll. I’m going back to ignoring you and encouraging everyone else here to ignore you. I don’t know what rocks you get off by coming over here to piss people off but you offer nothing at all to the discussion, just annoy people. Your links and right wing talking points are invariably debunked, facts continually prove you wrong.

        So I’m done with you. Fuck off.

      • Jim in Memphis

        Links to government reports from the agency that you cited are debunked?

      • Not links. INTERPRETATIONS. SPIN.

        You’re a fucking moron. Stop pretending you don’t understand what I’m saying.