"The Affordable Care Act is not just a website," the president cooed last week, hoping to convince increasingly dubious Americans that the rest of the law will work "really well." He's right that his law amounts to so much more than its broken website and telephone hotline that also can't sign people up. Obamacare is also the source of great consternation among many middle class Americans who feel "lied to." CBS News -- which has been almost shockingly persistent in its critical coverage of the president's signature accomplishment since the October 1 roll-out deadline -- aired a news package this morning that examined how average people have been hurt by Obamacare:
Some Americans are being surprised, not only that they are being booted off their current plans, but at how much they're being asked to pay for new ones. For many, their introduction to the Affordable Care Act has been negative: a broken website, and now cancellation notices from insurance companies followed by sticker shock over higher prices for the new plans. It's directly at odds with repeated assurances from the president, who has said "if you like your insurance plan, you will keep it. No one will be able to take that away from you." But people across the country are finding out they're losing their existing insurance plans under Obamacare...In Florida, at least 300,000 people are losing coverage. That includes 56-year-old Dianne Barrette. Last month, she received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield informing her as of January 2014, she would lose her current plan. Barrette pays $54 a month. The new plan she's being offered would run $591 a month -- 10 times more than what she currently pays. Barrette said, "What I have right now is what I am happy with and I just want to know why I can't keep what I have. Why do I have to be forced into something else?"
A data center critical for allowing uninsured Americans to buy health coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare law went down on Sunday, the U.S. government said, in the latest problem for the "Obamacare" rollout. Verizon's Terremark operates the data center behind a federal system for determining eligibility for government subsidies to buy insurance nationwide and hosts HealthCare.gov, the website that makes insurance available in 36 of the 50 states. The data center experienced a failure on Sunday that led it to lose network connectivity...
Meanwhile, sources on both the Left and Right are also sounding alarm bells over healthcare.gov's data security vulnerabilities. Overall, however, CBS' report feeds into the most important developing narrative, which was captured well by a headline in Politico today -- "Obamacare headaches: More than the website." Defenders of the law say that it's unfair to harp on anecdotes of dropped coverage and increasing premiums. That complaint is rich, considering that the bulk of the White House's messaging strategy in defense of Obamacare involves favorable anecdotes, some of which don't even stand up to their "success" story billing. Even if all critics had to work with were individual illustrative examples, they would still be on firm political ground. Obama and friends vowed that the new law would reduce aggregate healthcare expenditures, lower costs for everyone, and would preserve both existing plans and current patient-doctor arrangements. None of these things are true; therefore, highlighting individual cases that puncture Obama's wild over-promising is a completely legitimate avenue of attack. But as Conn noted earlier, conservatives can also point to hard data that demonstrate Obamacare's widespread deleterious effects. A few hundred people might qualify as outlier-style "anecdotes." But breaking the famous "keep your plan" promise to millions, and likely tens of millions, of Americans is not an "isolated" issue. On the cost side, just look at this interactive map of pre- and post-Obamacare healthcare premiums, read this analysis on average cost increases across two key age brackets on the exchanges, and recall the National Journal analysis' independent conclusion:
For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they're currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. Adding even more out-of-pocket expenses to consumers' monthly insurance bills is a swell in deductibles under the Affordable Care Act...one thing is clear: The cost of care in the new market doesn't stack up. A single wage earner must make less than $20,000 to see his or her current premiums drop or stay the same under Obamacare, an independent review by National Journal found. That's equivalent to approximately 34 percent of all single workers in the U.S. seeing any benefit in the new system. For those seeking family-of-four coverage under the ACA, about 43 percent will see cost savings. Families must earn less than or equal to $62,300, or they, too, will be looking at a bigger bill. Those numbers include the generous tax subsidies designed to make the new system more attractive to consumers.
Panicked Leftists are coping with these realities in various ways. Some have receded into shells of deep denial. Others are scurrying to join Republican denunciations of the terrible launch. Others still are engaged in hardcore goalpost shifting and hoping no one will notice. Here's the editor-in-chief of Think Progress:
Good thing that, before Obamacare, health insurance premiums never went up— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) October 28, 2013
How clever! Except...we weren't told that Obamacare would freeze premium increases, or even slow their rate of growth. We were told that the law would drive premiums down by thousands of dollars, and that it would bend the national cost curve down. "B-b-but it could be worse!" isn't a compelling argument if you've just rammed through a massive and unpopular realignment of one-sixth of the entire economy. Besides, it isn't even true. I'll leave you with two clips. The first is a local new report of an Indiana hospital system that's been forced to lay off hundreds of workers, and cut hours for hundreds more, because of Obamacare. The second comes from CNN, and it's pretty devastating:
"Since [October 1], how many patients has the center been able to enroll in an Affordable Care Act health plan? Exactly zero."