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Opinion

Have You Heard? Obamacare Is Working!

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There is controversy as to who said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”  Perhaps Mark Twain, perhaps British Prime Minister Disraeli, but few would argue the meaning. Politicians twist data all the time, and with Obamacare, the misinformation reaches new levels.

While conservatives try to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the program’s popularity increases.  About 8 million people, most of them uninsured, have signed up for health plans through the federal Marketplace.

Meanwhile, 26 states and D.C. have begun receiving billions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid to those with low incomes.

The states that expanded Medicaid have reduced their uninsured by 6 percentage points. The states that refused the money, including Florida, trimmed the number of uninsured by only 1.7 points.

The uninsured who have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act are citizens who will reap the benefits of having healthier families. They are counted in the millions.

Mark Twain did say, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”  So it is with Obamacare. The program is growing. In fact, its critics are moving on to other issues.  The GOP lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s use of his executive powers in implementing the ACA may be the last exercise in the bizarre.

Bernard Tyson, CEO of Kaiser Permanente, said that Obamacare heads us in the right direction.  Citizens need to be covered.  Health care must be made more efficient. We need to take it to the people.  He said more sophisticated technology can bring costs down and increase efficiency.  Telemedicine and health education kiosks in malls can prevent expensive doctor office visits.

Wendell Potter, a columnist at the Center for Public Integrity, suggests that the ads attacking the Affordable Care Act may have contributed to the impressive number of people who signed up for insurance under Obamacare. Opponents have spent more than $450 million trying to kill Obamacare and the register is still ringing.  That’s a lot of money down the drain.

Paul Krugman, columnist and economist, says that Obamacare has improved millions of lives.  The predictions of disaster have not occurred. Premiums have not soared.  The nation’s health-care system has not collapsed. Some states cooperating with Obamacare have seen premiums come down. Because most of those signing up receive subsidies, the average cost for Obamacare is $82 per month.  That’s a bargain.

Many needy people in the states that refused Obamacare money find insurance unaffordable.  In Florida, by some estimates, up to 1.3 million more citizens could have been insured if Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature had accepted the Medicaid expansion money.

David Plouffe, a political strategist, predicts that ultimately all states will accept Obamacare. It is the law of the land and it is here to stay.

Conservatives would be smart to offer proposals to improve the program rather than trying to kill it.   Ideally the move to a “Medicare for All” makes sense.  Supplemental insurance for people who want more could be made available.  Moving health insurance costs away from businesses could be the focus for discussion.

Obamacare is working.  Eventually the public will become more aware of the millions of families that can now afford decent health care.  Americans will remember who opposed Obamacare and take that memory to the polls.  

Marc Yacht is a semi-retired physician living in Hudson, Fla. Column courtesy of Context Florida.