State, national columnists

Obamacare news you probably missed

By From page A11 | April 17, 2014

Did you hear the latest news about Obamacare?

Probably not. Even though it is important news you need to know so you can make smart decisions that will help you and your family.

Newsbreak: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office this week issued a new analysis showing that the Affordable Care Act, the plan known as Obamacare that guarantees your insurance cannot be denied or canceled because of a pre-existing health problem, will cost the government less than expected and in many ways it is doing much better than you thought. Especially if you’ve been getting most of your info from the Republican and tea party leaders who want you to think “Obamacare” a four-letter word.

But when you dig deeper into the CBO analysis, you will also find numbers that show President Obama’s health-care plan has flaws that we need to start fixing – now. But that’s not something you’ve heard from Democratic leaders. Because rolling up sleeves and getting to work is not the way things happen here in Hate City these days.

Here’s the good news from the CBO: ACA will cost the government $5 billion less for this year than CBO had projected in February, and an additional $104 billion less than it projected for 2015 to 2024. These savings mean the deficit for 2014 will be $22 billion lower than CBO forecast just two months ago.

Just about all of that savings is achieved because government’s subsidies for health insurance premiums will be $300 cheaper this year (a 6 percent reduction) than CBO last projected, and $1,200 (14 percent) less through 2024. Indeed, premiums are now 15 percent less than was projected before the ACA became law. The subsidies are lower than expected because the premiums are lower than expected. And that’s because the programs offered in the health insurance exchanges offer a narrower range of doctored and hospitals than was expected.

But here’s the more problematic Obamacare news you need to know: CBO also projects your ACA health insurance premiums, though now lower than originally expected, will rise at an estimated 6 percent a year from 2016 to 2024. Still, that’s 15 percent less than CBO estimated back in 2009.

Finally, here’s the bottom line for Obamacare’s goal of helping those who need help most: CBO reports that 25 million people will be insured through health insurance exchanges – and an additional 13 million more will be covered through Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (for families with incomes above Medicaid’s ceiling) – who wouldn’t have had health insurance without enactment of the ACA. And we need to always remember that we all have been paying for the health care of those who have been uninsured – and paying for it in the most expensive way possible, as the uninsured were treated in hospital emergency rooms.

By now most of you are probably wondering why you missed all of this important Obamacare news. Well, it’s not because of a vast conspiracy of silence. It’s because of the flawed way the news agenda is set these days here in Hate City. The Newsmakers on the right and left are all about attacking each other. So Republicans won’t acknowledge any Obamacare pluses; and Democrats won’t spotlight Obamacare’s flaws.

So it’s up to the News Deciders in the media to set the agenda for the newsmakers’ by spotlighting the successes and the work that needs to be done. Indeed, in-depth reporting was done on Monday’s CBO analysis by several major news organizations, including excellent coverage by McClatchy’s Kevin G. Hall and the Los Angeles Times’ Michael A. Memoli.

But unfortunately, the way the news agenda is set is that the major television networks, especially the nonstop cable TV news organizations, still take their cues from two main sources: The Washington Post and The New York Times; and both gave the story only limited coverage on inside pages. No wonder the Big Eye of the agenda-setters wandered elsewhere.

The result: No Washington leader was demanding that we spotlight Obamacare’s positive results – and fix its flaws.

The real question now is whether folks in America’s heartland will ever demand action – and demand an end to the demagoguery of attack politics – from the people we keep sending to Washington to work for us.

Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. Readers may send him email at [email protected]

Martin Schram


Discussion | 8 comments

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  • Teach5thApril 17, 2014 - 6:53 am

    The CBO changes it "findings" as frequently as Obama makes unlawful changes to Congress's law. I'll say it again --- health insurance isn't health care. We don't know the real impact on health care yet or, for that matter, how many people have paid their premiums because that's kept from us. So, Martin - why don't you write an article about these 2 important issues instead of writing about an organization which keeps changing its figures?

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  • JBDragonApril 17, 2014 - 12:46 pm

    Obamacare is so good that Obama has changed the rules over 30 times himself and the unions are getting exempt from it. Thanks to Obamacare, where I work where they paid for 75% of our medical costs! they just dropped it for everyone!!! They looked and the numbers and bye, bye. Now I have this huge bill I have to somehow pay every month and get zero in subsidies, which is just taking from one person and giving it to another person. So I'm paying for myself and for those on subsidies. Thanks Obama and here's a big middle finger at you! The CBO numbers are a joke. They keep changing. It is a job killer and so even more people will be getting subsidies. The cost will skyrocket like you wouldn't believe. Do you know that going by the numbers, Medical Cost in California this yeAr went up a record 57%. In Florida it was 100%. To put that in prospective, a normal High rate bump is in the 12% area. By the way, where's that $2500 in savings we were all support to get. Thanks to Obamacare, I get a huge pay cut is how I look at it. I'm paying for crap I don't need. I mean really, pre natal care? I'm a guy! If Medicare and etc worked so good, there sure as hell would have been zero need for Obamacare! Name one Government program that's worked and came out cheaper! Obamacare hasn't fully kicked in. We've been pYing into it for the last 4 years ahead of time. WAtch the drop fast. Give it a couple more years and you'll see them death panels in acton!

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  • SixStrRzrApril 17, 2014 - 7:24 am

    It's way too early (like by 4 years or so) for anyone, much less the Insurance industry and Washington, to adequately understand and address 2,500+ pages (or whatever it is) of the ACA. Six talking heads on the, uh, "news" channels have 6 different interpretations as to what degree consumers will be eviscerated. If I was in the Medical Insurance business, I'd be licking my chops at 6% premium increases with inflation and supposed wage increases, (if you get one at all) hovering at at 2.2%. They explain it away with trendy buzz phrases like "new norm" and patronizing responses like "it could've been 15%".

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  • Hans AdlerApril 17, 2014 - 12:41 pm

    Martin Schram, Do newspaper sales generate your paycheck? Why would you be so rude and crude to Republican and Tea Party leaders accusing them of offering "four- letter" false information on Obamacare? That's hateful! Last time I checked they offered a lot of factual information. You might as well tell all conservative newspaper subscribers find another source of information than The Daily Republic. You are the one offering a lot of false information without fact Sir. CBO reporting numbers are not something I would bet my life on. It's not a wonder why newspaper sales are suffering with all the left wing dribble you put out for Obama. Find a new job Martin Schram and save The Daily Republic for all of us liberals and conservatives! Let's get back to fair and balanced so we all can enjoy The Daily Republic.

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  • PornacApril 17, 2014 - 8:05 pm

    Republicans must replace Obama Care with a better system that doesn't help so many liberals with their health care! Let them go to the ER.

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  • JagApril 17, 2014 - 9:11 pm

    I heard today 8 million people are now covered under Obama care and I think like 8 people have paid for it, what a joke but as long as the old republicans stay on office it is going to be the same thing they say they don’t want it Bla bla ble this party needs to be pushed to the right if we are truly going to do away with it, health care is a privilege not a right

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  • rlw895April 18, 2014 - 1:05 am

    Keep pushing, Jag!

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  • rlw895April 17, 2014 - 9:33 pm

    Good column. Fair and balanced. And my time is up. Let the analyses begin! Where's Mr.P?

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