The Chair of the Missouri Republican Party, Ed Martin, has a problem with the reality that the rest of us inhabit. The proof? Read his oddly gloating statement about the Obamacare signup numbers that were released Monday. He starts cute:
The truth hurts; at least it hurts everyday Missourians and millions around the country. Another month of enrollment numbers brings another announcement from the Administration cloaking the colossal failure that is ObamaCare.
“The truth hurts”? Give me a break. Is Martin trying to say that the numbers aren’t accurate? If so, where’s his proof? Or is Martin really so dense that he believes the fact that total enrollments doubled in December constitutes some type of failure? In fact, this new evidence that the early rollout hiccups are now in the past inspired The Wasington Post‘s Ezra Klein to announce that we’re seeing the “death of Obamacare’s death spiral,” – you, know, that “death spiral” that folks like Martin have been heralding for the last three months.
Seems to me that the main thing that the new numbers tell us is that lots of folks have managed to get healthcare coverage, many for the first time. But that type of success doesn’t concern Ed Martin:
No amount of repairs to a website, or new rules meant to shore up ObamaCare’s failed policy, will fix the problem the law created for countless Americans that lost theirs plans through no fault of their own.
And this is where the truth actually does hurt – only the wounded entity is Ed Martin’s credibility. As Patrick Caldwell notes in Mother Jones, the truth “turns out to be a tad more complicated” than the rote talking points of GOPers like Martin suggest:
… . On New Year’s Eve, the Democratic minority on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a report examining exactly how many people will lack health insurance under the new regime. The report uses an Associated Press estimate that 4.7 million people received cancellation notices as their baseline. But out of that group, according to the Democrats, only a small sliver of Americans-just 10,000 people-who lost their 2013 coverage won’t have access to affordable insurance.
“Previous false claims have included the assertion that the law requires death panels, that the law represents a government take over of health care, and that law has caused millions to lose their jobs,” the report says. “The assertion that the law will cause five million individuals who currently have coverage in the individual market to go without coverage in 2014 is similarly baseless.”
But Martin’s got more: He’s sure that the risk pool among the new enrollees is so unbalanced it will bring the whole Obamacare edifice tumbling down:
By the White House’s own admission, the young and healthy will have to shoulder the burden of ObamaCare. Today’s numbers show young Americans are avoiding the mandate at a significant rate. The White House continues to hide key data points by refusing to release the number of Americans that have actually paid for plans selected through the federal marketplace. What are they hiding?
However, as Klein notes, Ed’s worries about the ratio of young enrollees to older, sicker folks is a tad premature:
But — and this can’t be emphasized enough — this is not the final risk pool. No one anywhere expected that the risk pool would be balanced by Jan. 1. Major health laws always follow the same pattern: The people who badly need insurance sign up first, and they tend to be older and sicker. Younger people sign up later — typically right before the penalty hits. So far, the age pattern in Obamacare enrollment is tracking the age pattern in enrollment for the Massachusetts reforms quite closely.
In fact, as Klein notes, it may take up to three years to sort out the risk pool to the point that we actually understand how well the system will function. At any rate, the current ratio of young to older enrollees is actually not, as it stands, an insurmountable problem according to Larry Levitt, Senior Vice-President of the Kaiser Foundation:
Even if the current mix of enrollees holds, Levitt does not foresee a shock to the insurance system, with only a potential 2 to 3 percent increase in premiums in 2015. “I see no signs at this point of a feared premium ‘death spiral,’ ” in which premiums skyrocket and the system collapses, he says.
Nor is the failure to tell us how many enrollees have paid for their plans a real issue. Just the teensy-tiniest bit of reflection might suggest that it’s a bit too early to get meaningful figures – many new enrollees haven’t even had time to receive billing statements. Perhaps Martin should dry his crocodile tears and ask again in a few months.
It’s Martin’s closing grace notes, however, that are really special:
When America judges this administration, when it’s all said and done, this law will undoubtedly be the downfall of a historic presidency.
Who’d of thought that Martin would be so worried about the legacy of the black man in the white house, the same guy who’s kept Martin and his co-partisans so lathered up during the last five years that they’ve clearly lost touch with the real world.