With major insurers poised to pull out of the exchanges, out-of-pocket costs soaring, premiums rising across the board, the overall healthcare cost curve rising, and access to care constricting for millions, defenders of the unpopular Obamacare program have been clinging to the thin reed that the new law has at least provided coverage to millions of Americans. This is a weak argument, for two reasons: (1) The "Affordable" Care Act, by definition, emphasized affordability. The sales pitch was that the legislation would lower rates, improve care, and insure tens of millions -- while reducing costs overall, and allowing anyone who was happy with their existing arrangement to keep it. A no-loss proposition. This was pure, dishonest fantasy, of course; the American people smelled a rat from the beginning, which is why disapproval of Obamacare has significantly outpaced approval ever since it was introduced in 2009. (2) Celebrating the fact that millions of people have signed up for coverage for which they are legally obligated to sign up isn't exactly an achievement, especially when one considers how many people have run the math and chosen to pay for the privilege of remaining uninsured because they can't afford the "Affordable" Care Act. And when one considers how many of the "new" enrollees previously had insurance. But even on the sign-ups metric, the law is failing, and failing badly. Decline:
ObamaCare will enroll significantly fewer people than expected in 2016, ending the year with about 13 million customers, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday. The figure, which was included in an expansive budget report, is a decline of about 40 percent from last year’s enrollment prediction of about 20 million people. The latest projections confirm the Obama administration’s previous assessment that fewer people are signing up as the marketplace closes in on its third enrollment season — the final one under President Obama.
The New York Times also notes the dramatic downgrade, speculating that future projections are also likely to be slashed:
When the Affordable Care Act was drafted, the Congressional Budget Office expected people to sign up quickly for new health insurance. Now, two years into the law, it’s clear that progress is going to be slower. The Obama administration acknowledged as much in late 2014, and again in October, when it presented its own modest predictions. Monday, the budget office also agreed, slashing its 2016 estimate by close to 40 percent...It has proved harder to spread the word about new health insurance, and harder yet to persuade people to shell out money for new health insurance they hadn’t had in their household budgets... The budget office’s estimates for future years won’t be released until March, but it seems reasonable to assume they will also come down.
The Times story tries to salvage some good news from this disaster, desperately editorializing that this exodus "is not a sign that the health law is failing." As evidence for this sweeping generalization that fails to adhere to most of the data, the "news" report cites sign-ups under the law's Medicaid expansion program -- which is already straining state budgets, redirecting precious resources from the truly indigent, and failing to produce superior health outcomes for its enrollees compared to uninsured people. Republicans in the House and Senate recently passed a bill repealing almost all of Obamacare, which was immediately vetoed by the president. And as she attacks Bernie Sanders over the massive expense of socialized healthcare, Hillary Clinton stubbornly insists that the new law has been a success, vowing to pour more taxpayer money into it: