Jim’s Blog: Clinton distorts figures, truth in defense of Obamacare
Sen. James W. DeMint (R-S.C.) posted on his blog — “Jim’s Blog” — Sept. 6 “a devastating rebuttal” to former president William J. Clinton’s full-throated defense of the President Barack Obama’s health care reforms at the Democrat’s national convention in Charlotte, N.C., the night before.
Chris Jacobs, a health care analyst, who works for DeMint’s Capitol Hill staff, takes issue with three assertions made by the former president in his speech, which was the formal address placing Obama’s name in nomination for another term in the White House.
Clinton: “So are we all better off because President Obama fought for (the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) and passed it? You bet we are.”
“First, President Obama promised that premiums would go down by $2,500 in his first term – so even ‘only’ a four percent increase represents a broken promise,” Jacobs said. “However, even this increase of ‘only’ four percent is something about which President Obama should be far from boastful.”
But, even this slowdown is not because of health care reform, rather it is from the loss of pricing power by insurance companies in the recession, he said.
“Because the definitive analysis on national health spending issued by the non-partisan Medicare actuary made clear the reason for the slowdown: ‘The latest recession had a dramatic effect on (health care) utilization … Persistently high unemployment, continued loss of private health insurance coverage, and increased cost sharing led some people to forgo care or seek less costly alternatives than they would have otherwise used,’” he said.
“In other words, spending growth was slower than projected not because Obamacare worked, but because the Obama ‘stimulus’ didn’t,” he said.
Clinton: “What the President did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that weren’t making people any healthier.”
Jacobs said, “Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage will reduce that program’s enrollment by half and cut plan choices by two-thirds — undermining the president’s promise that those who like their plan will be able to keep it under Obamacare.”
But, not for the long term, he said.
“Just as important, both the Medicare actuary and the Congressional Budget Office have concluded that some of the law’s biggest Medicare reductions will not be sustainable in the long-term,” he said.
“The Medicare actuary said the reductions could cause up to 40 percent of hospitals to become unprofitable over the long term – at which point they may have to stop treating Medicare patients,” he said.
“To follow Clinton’s statement to its logical conclusion, the President believes that 40 percent of Medicare providers going broke, and/or not treating Medicare patients, wouldn’t affect seniors’ health one whit – and that those 40 percent of providers aren’t making seniors any healthier now,” Jacobs said.
Clinton: “He add(ed) eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. It’s now solvent until 2024. So President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare, they strengthened it.”
Jacobs said, “That’s not what the Congressional Budget Office said. The non-partisan CBO said that the Medicare reductions in Obamacare: ‘will not enhance the ability of the government to pay for future Medicare benefits’ — because those savings will be used to fund other unsustainable entitlements.
Here Obama was the foil, he said.
“Even President Obama himself admitted this irrefutable logic in a 2010 interview, when he stated that ‘You can’t say that you are saving on Medicare and then spending the money twice,’” he said.
“But, if Democrats want to use the Medicare savings provisions to extend the life of the Medicare trust fund — and not to fund the new entitlements created by the law — the Congressional Budget Office previously estimated what the fiscal impact would be: A net increase in federal deficits of $260 billion” through 2019, he said.
Jacobs continued, “In his speech last night, President Clinton mentioned that even a broken clock gets the time right twice a day.”
“However, given the facts above, it’s fairly clear that neither of those two occasions took place during the former President’s speech.”