Here we go again. One of the High Priests of the so-called "reality-based community" has for the umpteenth time pronounced Obamacare a great success, asserting that people who believe otherwise (like, for example, the majority of the American people) have either been deceived, or are liars. Paint-by-numbers acerbic Leftist, reactionary smear artist, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls Obamacare horror stories "imaginary disasters," made up from whole cloth to scare people and undermine a law that's working and helping people. We've spent quite a lot of time refuting variants of this argument in recent years, producing detailed responses to President Obama, Harry Reid, and two different bloggers at Vox. Here's Krugman -- in a column declaring Obamacare a success and its opponents discredited, no less -- bemoaning our "post-truth politics:"
In short, when it comes to the facts, the attack on health reform has come up empty-handed...And the favorable experiences of the roughly 16 million Americans who have gained insurance so far have had little effect on public perceptions. Partly that’s because the Affordable Care Act, by design, has had almost no effect on those who already had good health insurance: Before the act, a large majority of Americans were already covered by their employers, by Medicare or by Medicaid, and they have seen no change in their status. At a deeper level, however, what we’re looking at here is the impact of post-truth politics. We live in an era in which politicians and the supposed experts who serve them never feel obliged to acknowledge uncomfortable facts, in which no argument is ever dropped, no matter how overwhelming the evidence that it’s wrong. And the result is that imaginary disasters can overshadow real successes. Obamacare isn’t perfect, but it has dramatically improved the lives of millions. Someone should tell the voters.
Actually, when it comes to the facts, opponents' attacks on the law have been overwhelmingly vindicated. Obamacare has failed to deliver on nearly every major promise upon which it was sold. Remember, one of the law's chief architects has conceded that its PR team lied about taxing benefits, lied about cost control, and intentionally exploited legislative opacity, which he bragged would help bamboozle "stupid" voters. So the statement that critics have "come up empty-handed" could only come from a cloistered, closed-minded ideologue who admits to shielding himself from uncomfortable data and opposing viewpoints. Krugman also fails to mention that many of the millions who've "gained insurance" under the law previously had coverage and were forced to sign up through the exchanges when their suddenly-noncompliant plans were unceremoniously canceled. He writes that the law had "almost no effect" on people who were already happily insured. That's only true if you willfully ignore the millions of consumers who've received cancellation notices as a direct result of the law, and the millions more who will experience the same upheaval in the years to come. Finally, poll after poll confirms that Americans who've been directly harmed by Obamacare substantially outnumber those whose lives have been "dramatically improved." These are people's actual experiences, and no amount of smug, tendentious bloviating can alter people's everyday realities. These disasters are not "imaginary" -- as Krugman might be aware if he deigned to read his own newspaper from time to time. Here's the Times last month:
Ms. Pineman, who is self-employed, accepted that she’d have to pay higher premiums for a plan with a narrower provider network and no out-of-network coverage. She accepted that she’d have to pay out of pocket to see her primary care physician, who didn’t participate. She even accepted having co-pays of nearly $1,800 to have a cast put on her ankle in an emergency room after she broke it while playing tennis. But her frustration bubbled over when she tried to arrange a follow-up visit with an orthopedist in her Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield network: The nearest doctor available who treated ankle problems was in Stamford, Conn. When she called to protest, her insurer said that Stamford was 14 miles from her home and 15 was considered a reasonable travel distance. “It was ridiculous — didn’t they notice it was in another state?” said Ms. Pineman, 46, who was on crutches. She instead paid $350 to see a nearby orthopedist and bought a boot on Amazon as he suggested. She has since forked over hundreds of dollars more for a physical therapist that insurance didn’t cover, even though that provider was in-network...For still others, the new fees are so confusing and unsupportable that they just avoid seeing doctors...by endorsing and expanding the complex new policies promoted by the health care industry, the law may in some ways be undermining its signature promise: health care that is accessible and affordable for all.
Would Mr. Krugman care to repeat his "imaginary" rubbish to the faces of this cancer patient, this young mother, this erstwhile Obamacare poster child, or these workers in Pennsylvania?
I'll leave you with this interesting nugget from the Libre Initiative:
As the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2015 ends, analysis by Avalere Health shows that while 76 percent of eligible individuals between 100 and 150 percent of the Poverty level signed up through Healthcare .gov this year, enrollment figures decline dramatically among people earning more. Just 16 percent of those earning between 300 and 400 percent of the federal Poverty level signed up, and just 2 percent of those earning $46,000 or more per year did so. The data shows that for consumers who bear a significant portion of the cost themselves, the federal exchange is simply not a popular option. Only when large taxpayer subsidies are provided are people choosing to enroll in significant numbers. But people are required by the ACA to purchase health insurance or face penalties, and as these penalties increase over time, more Americans will be compelled to comply with the law or face penalties that are simply too onerous.
This is a wealth redistribution scheme that hurts the middle class. As it turns out, people who are both mandated to buy coverage and handed large subsidies from taxpayers are the most likely group to sign up for Obamacare. Go figure. "Success!"