And in a way, he’s pretty much right — just not in the way he thinks he is (or, rather, not in the way that he’s presenting himself to be, ahem).
I’ve covered this particular misrepresentation before, but since the president has been repeating it a lot lately and will probably continue to do so with a vengeance from here on out, I might as well take another crack at it. Via ABC:
But today President Obama made one of his boldest claims yet on that question: asserting that the Affordable Care Act, in just three years, has helped slow the growth of health costs to the lowest rates in decades.
“Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare,’ the cost of health care is now growing at the slowest rate in 50 years,” Obama said in remarks to his Export Council.
“Just yesterday CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] estimated that health care spending grew at it second-slowest rate ever in 2012, will grow at its third-slowest rate ever in 2013, grew at its slowest rate in 2011,” he said. “So the three years since ‘Obamacare’ passed, we’ve seen the slowest growth in health care costs on record.”
It is perfectly true that, over the past decade, the rate of growth of health care costs has been decreasing; and yes, there are a bunch of factors that go into the makeup of the country’s health care spending that have been improving, namely the efficiencies and technological innovations being spurred along by the private sector. In 2009, however, the rate bottomed out around 4 percent and has stayed there the past several years, but for exactly the reason you’re thinking it did. …It’s the economy, stupid. ABC continues:
But many independent experts believe the slowdown is largely due to the economy and a contraction of spending during the recession. The role of Affordable Care Act has been limited and hard to measure, they say. …
An April 2013 Kaiser analysis concluded “the vast majority (77 percent) of the recent decline in the health spending trend can be attributed to broader changes in the economy. At the same time, however, there are also indications that structural changes in the health system may be playing a modest role as well.”
Experts note that changes under ACA could ultimately increase the growth rate of health care costs initially, since more people will be covered (and paying for) health plans and treatments. The continued economic recovery is expected to contribute, as well, as more Americans have increased income to spend on health care.
I would point out to the president that the health care law wasn’t even signed until 2010, and this trend began in 2009; i.e., sure, his failure of an economic agenda has definitely been helping to keep health care costs from ballooning too hugely, but that is not a good thing in its larger context. It is certainly a creative and useful bit of boldfaced spinmeistering for the moment, I suppose, but I’m not sure how the president will be able to credibly claim that an accelerating rate in health care costs somehow will not be attributable to ObamaCare when they pick back up again.
If these are the fake straws at which the administration has to grasp to tell everyone to sell their health care overhaul, they have some serious problems on their hands.