The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 22, 2014

Find ways to improve ACA

It didn’t take the Republicans long (only 2 days) to twist information from a new Congressional Budget Office report to bolster their continuing attacks on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Cherry-picking a few sentences in the CBO “Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” the National Republican Congressional Committee immediately announced that the ACA would kill 2 million jobs. This dishonest claim has been parroted by many other Republicans and has headlined numerous media reports.

The Wall Street Journal accurately summarized the report saying the law “will reduce the total number of hours Americans work by the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time jobs.” As pointed out by Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post, jobs will not be lost, but “some people might decide to work part-time, not full time, in order to keep getting health care subsidies. Thus, they are reducing their supply of labor to the market.”  

Due to the increase in insurance coverage under the law and the availability of subsidies to help pay the premiums, many workers who were trapped in a job that provided health benefits would now be able to leave those jobs or choose to work fewer hours. In other words, up to two million people could choose to change their work status without the fear of losing their health insurance.

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf noted that this aspect of the ACA will actually reduce the unemployment rate since employees who elect to work less or retire will open employment opportunities for those currently unemployed.

As they have done since the passage of the ACA, the Republicans also ignore other positive impacts of the law, among them: no lifetime limits on benefits, coverage for preventative care, dependent coverage to age 26, no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, and no discrimination based on medical status or claim experience.  

Also as contained in the CBO report: insurance premiums are 15 percent lower than originally projected, the slowdown in Medicare cost growth is continuing, and while the 2014 enrollment of 14 million will be lower than expected this rate will increase markedly in future years.  The CBO also projects that the administrative changes to the Risk Corridor Program will result in a savings of $8.5 billion.

While the ACA is not the perfect answer to health care issues in the U.S., it is a definite improvement over what has been. Instead of spreading lies and continuing attempts to repeal the law, Republicans should be working to improve it.

David B. Kyle,

New Columbia

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