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Tipsheet

Lies Are the Life-Support for Obamacare

Obamacare has been a deception from beginning to end. Townhall Finance's Michael Schaus reports for the January issue of Townhall Magazine. 

The news got somewhat lost amid all the headlines about Jonathan Gruber duping the American voters, but the Obama administration lied about the number of people who are enrolled under Obamacare. Well, maybe “lied” is a strong word. But we were definitely “Grubered” over the number. In their desperate attempt to inflate the number of Obamacare enrollees to 7 million, the administration included enrollees who merely applied for dental coverage.

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Yep, dental coverage. The administration included almost 400,000 dental plans when they announced the official number of Obamacare enrollees. Of course, these dental plans aren’t exactly the contraception-including health coverage that is required to avoid an IRS penalty under the Affordable Care Act, but I guess it’s close enough for government work.

Officials have since acknowledged their “mistake” and have promised to do things differently moving forward. And obviously we have no reason to doubt that this was all one big misunderstanding, right?

I mean, it was most likely coincidental that these dental (non-qualifying plans) were deceptively added to the official tally of enrollees, just as the sign-ups were leveling off and drop out rates were increasing. As Darrell Issa (R-CA) pointed out to Bloomberg News:

“After touting 8 million initial sign-ups for medical plans, four months later they engaged in a concerted effort to obscure a heavy drop-out rate of perhaps a million or more enrollees by quietly adding in dental plan sign-ups to exchange numbers.”

In other words: It almost seems like the administration doesn’t really want to be honest about Obamacare enrollments. And there’s probably a good reason. They convinced the American people that enrollments would be the major test for the law’s success. A less-than-stellar performance is likely to deteriorate the already anemic support it has among the citizenry. You can probably bet that things would be a bit different if Obamacare was a rousing success. Heck, the monthly enrollment numbers would likely be the headline story on most media outlets, and the White House would be trumpeting testimonials every chance they got.

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Instead, we have continued efforts to obscure and conceal the impact of the law. In November, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told the Center for American Progress that 7.1 million people were signed up through Obamacare. That number was roughly 200,000 less than her department reported in August; and it still included those non-qualifying dental plans. Even more important is that her comments came after the department was made aware of their impropriety.

In addition to questionable advertising techniques, and numeric tinkering, the Obama administration has been engaged in a relentless campaign to redefine what “success” means for the law. Knowing full well that the law is incapable of lowering health care spending, the White House has repeatedly pointed out that healthcare prices are rising “the slowest rate in 50 years.”

Unfortunately for Obamacare fans, this isn’t exactly attributable to the Affordable Care Act. Health care inflation was slowing down before Obamacare, in large part because of a gradual shift toward high-deductible insurance plans, and because of a lagging economy. Inflation in almost all areas has slowed mainly because of an economic environment where consumers are experiencing zero wage growth and anemic job creation. In other words, Obamanomics is more responsible for the slowdown in health care costs than the ACA.

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Michael Schaus is associate editor of Townhall Finance. 

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