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9 Million Enrollees?


President Obama, in his recent State of The Union speech announced that, through his new Affordable Care Act, more than 9 million Americans are obtaining health insurance. (Those who had signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage). But the truth is, that’s just not accurate. This exaggeration includes those who renewed their existing insurance plans through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, as well as previously insured individuals who switched to plans offered on the state and federal exchanges, because their previous insurers were forced out of the marketplace.

The first of this year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced “Right now, as we speak, there are 9 million Americans who have health care that didn’t have it before.” Again, just not true. In the early part of February, Dick Durbin, the second-highest Democrat in the Senate, said, “The bottom line is this: 10 million Americans have health insurance today who would not have had it without the Affordable Care Act.” Again, all of this is exaggeration that borders on propaganda.

When Reid made his claim about the nine million Americans, 2.1 million had actually selected plans on the federal or state insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, 3.9 million of those were determined to be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, and about 3.1 million of those were young adults under the age of 26 who were simply eligible to join their parents’ policies as a result of Obama’s Affordable Care Act (which is proving to be less and less affordable).

Furthermore, on Jan. 24, the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid announced that 3 million people had enrolled in private health insurance plans through the federal and state-based exchanges since October 2013, and that more than 6.3 million individuals were now eligible to enroll in Medicaid or CHIP through state agencies and state-based marketplaces in October through December. This is how Obama arrived at his figure of over 9 million Americans.

But again, not all of those people were previously uninsured, as Democrats have claimed.

Earlier this year Marilyn Tavenner, who serves as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said that this erroneous 6.3 million actually included “both Medicaid and CHIP new eligibility determinations in states that expanded coverage, determinations made on prior law, and in some states, Medicaid renewals and groups not affected at all by the health care law.” What this means is, a portion of this 6.3 million includes some people who already registered with Medicaid or CHIP and were simply renewing, and it includes people who would have been eligible for those insurance programs without Obamacare. Finally, it may very well include those who were already insured through other sources and are now eligible for Medicaid.

In a report by Avalere Health Corp., which is a health care industry consulting firm, the company estimated that most of the Medicaid and CHIP determinations were not new enrollees due to Obamacare. These determinations were made by comparing the October through December Medicaid and CHIP numbers from CMS to the average monthly number of applications in July through September 2013.

We also know now, that of the 3 million people who selected exchange plans, many of these individuals were insured but switched to AHC coverage when their plans were cancelled or their insurers pulled out of the individual insurance market. These folks did not change because they saw a better opportunity. They were forced to change because of the disastrous side effects of Obamacare.

In addition, The Wall Street Journal did an article in January regarding industry surveys of exchange enrollees. The upshot of the story basically said that brokers, consultants and other insurance affiliates estimated that better than two-thirds of the new Obamacare consumers previously bought their own coverage or were part of employer-backed plans (which were, in many cases, cancelled, or when insurers pulled out of the market.) What we’re talking about here is a legislation that actually put the competition out of business.

By now we should be used to seeing exaggeration and falsehoods from this administration, but it doesn’t make it easier to accept.

The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ownership and staff of The Polk County Pulse. Michael Reisig is a freelance writer and published author whose works are reproduced throughout the globe.

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