Last week, Politico shared the internal GOP policy brief for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), a brief that inadvertently makes a pretty good case for not repealing the ACA at all.
The source is given as the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, a group lobbying for more competition in health insurance as a way to lower costs, despite years of evidence that this approach makes health care more expensive and completely out of reach for millions of Americans–except, of course, for those who died from lack of affordable care.
Perhaps letting the sickest among us die is the GOP master plan for manipulating the risk pool to bring down costs. Or perhaps the ACA really did fail to cover treatment for a selective amnesia epidemic among GOP politicians and lobbyists. Maybe this chart and the laughably bad policy brief it appears in are really just a cry for help.
That would certainly explain the blatant misrepresentation in this chart, to make the columns look hugely different in size by conveniently omitting y-axis info so no one would notice that the columns don’t start at zero. Here’s what these numbers actually look like:
Not to mention that neither chart shows what the original table title promises, to demonstrate that “Obamacare Costs Families More.” More than what? A year’s supply of Band-aids and aspirin? The chart doesn’t compare years under the ACA to the years before. There’s a reason for that, of course. Out-of-pocket costs were rising at a higher rate before ACA than they are now.
The GOP policy brief cites a Kaiser Family Foundation report, “2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey,” for the statistics in the brief, a report that demonstrates clearly that for every rise in costs cited by the GOP to criticize ACA, the costs were rising at the same rate or even higher and faster before ACA was implemented.
For example, the brief cites a rise in employer-sponsored family coverage premiums of $4,300 between 2010 and 2016. The rise between 2003 and 2009? $4,300. (Note that these numbers are for the premium totals for both employer and employee contributions. Employee annual premium costs rose $1,280 between 2010 and 2016 and $1,103 between 2003 and 2009, a difference that actually reflects employers on average choosing to pay a slightly smaller percentage of employee premiums. Many decisions related to employer-sponsored coverage rest more with employers than with the ACA, which is probably why the data cited from the KFF are oddly centered on employer coverage.)
Despite the extraordinary efforts of the GOP to manipulate and cherry-pick data in an attempt to portray Obamacare as a disaster, they are simultaneously demonstrating that for all the ACA’s flaws (and the ACA is definitely flawed), it is a vast improvement on the previous health insurance system, the system that the GOP and groups like the CAHC are basically pulling out of the trash and attempting to regift to us.