If spiking health-care spending is so great …

posted at 12:41 pm on May 1, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

… shouldn’t the perception of ObamaCare be spiking right along with it? Prior to the implementation of ObamaCare, Barack Obama and Democrats claimed that the ACA would “bend the cost curve downward,” and then took credit for slowing rates of health-care spending increases in 2011 and 2012. Now, however, with health-care spending rising in 2014Q1 at its fastest rate since 1980 – and following a big jump in the fourth quarter of 2013, too — defenders of the law claim that increasing rates of spending are just splendid, because it means more people have access to health care.

If so, then we should see a big improvement in ObamaCare’s numbers. In my column today for The Fiscal Times, I point out the disconnect:

Is this new health-care spending really just an expression of joy over new coverage, as Obamacare supporters argue now? Fortunately, we have some metrics to judge this claim after two full quarters of rapid increases in spending. Since the White House declared victory on Obamacare as open enrollment ended, and insisted that “the debate is over,” a number of national polls have been published on the new law and support for its provisions. Not a single one of them demonstrates a rise in support anywhere near the rise in spending – or much of an improvement at all in popular perception of Obamacare.

The Washington Post/ABC poll results show the opposite, in fact. Support for the law dropped five points to 44/48, down from 49/48 in the previous poll from March. Among Latino voters – a key demographic for President Obama and his Democrats in the midterm elections – support for Obamacare dropped seven points. The news was only slightly better in the NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, where support for the ACA rose from 35 percent in March all the way to … 36 percent. Those who think Obamacare to be a bad idea did decline from 49 percent to 46 percent, but all of these changes fall within the polling margin of error.

Kaiser Family Foundation similarly sees no burst of enthusiasm from consumers happy about the massive increase in health-care costs. In September, before the sharp increases occurred, opinion split on the law 39/43, numbers that remained largely stable throughout last year until the Obamacare launch. During the rollout, when spending increases began, disapproval pushed those figures to 33/49 in November 2013 and 34/50 in January. In March and April, approval remained constant at 38/46. A majority of 57 percent told Kaiser that the law clearly is not working as intended, including 61 percent of independents.

So no, the rapid increase in spending does not indicate that the system is working tolower costs, an absurd if not Orwellian construct. Nor is the debate “over,” no matter how many times Obama claims otherwise.

Speaking of not over, so is the debate over the number of enrollments. The numbers released yesterday came from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees HHS, and the committee got those numbers from the insurers. The reason the committee had to go through such a circuitous route was because HHS can’t or won’t provide them with that data — because their back-end systems don’t capture it, and probably won’t until the next open-enrollment period. When they got released, the White House screamed foul, claiming that the failure rate of 33% was too high, saying it was closer to 20%. Even that puts enrollments at 6.4 million, not 8 million, and the White House offers no back-up for its 20% figure either.

Philip Klein writes that it’s time for the Obama administration to “come clean” on the numbers:

There are important caveats to these numbers. To start, they are only for the federal exchange, and thus do not include enrollments from 14 states plus the District of Columbia that ran their own exchanges. This means the report excludes the heavily populated New York and California. …

The committee’s report noted that, “Due to the administration’s repeated and unilateral extensions and changes, as well as the fact that many insurers have reported that individuals will still have time to pay their first month’s premium, the committee plans to ask the insurers in the federally facilitated marketplace to provide an enrollment update by May 20, 2014.”

This puts HHS officials in a pickle. If they attack the Republican report as inaccurate, it will be an implicit acknowledgement that they have numbers that they aren’t releasing. So their choice is either to stay silent and let the GOP-obtained data fill the news vacuum, or release detailed enrollment data.

It’s way past time for them to come clean.

Let’s not forget that the administration had four years to build a system that could provide this data. Instead, it’s going to have to spend another $121 million to get that part of the system built, on top of the $677 million spent on the Healthcare.gov flop in the first place. If the White House tells people to check with insurers because they were too incompetent to build a web portal, they shouldn’t complain when the answers people get don’t fit with their spin — and they should be held accountable for forcing people to devise secondary metrics on their performance.


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C’mon tlalacoloc tell us that is rain and nor nitrogenous waste.

Murphy9 on May 1, 2014 at 12:43 PM

That’s the great thing about Baraka’s Krazy Kult Kiddiez – every single damn thing is good news for him.

See the Stonecutters episode of the Simpsons where they thought Homer was the chosen one.

Chuck Schick on May 1, 2014 at 12:45 PM

OT, but not really. This is Spiegel’s contribution to the May 01 event.

The red carnation is the Euro-marxist symbol.

This is a gift to all the sardines and sheeple of the world.

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 12:45 PM

When they got released, the White House screamed foul, claiming that the failure rate of 33% was too high, saying it was closer to 80%.

You mean that the White House claims the failure rate is 20% (one-fifth of the purported enrollees have not paid), not 80%.

J.S.K. on May 1, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Time for HHS to come clean about “enrollments.”

…oh…that’s going to happen!/

KOOLAID2 on May 1, 2014 at 12:48 PM

That should have its own thread.

Murphy9 on May 1, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Bingo!!

In light of the Sterling BS.

ToddPA on May 1, 2014 at 12:52 PM

ToddPA on May 1, 2014 at 12:47 PM

…well… how come I’m not shocked?…I think NJ is one of those state where both parties have to consent to be recorded…so it won’t be reported…like “that conversation” in California!

KOOLAID2 on May 1, 2014 at 12:52 PM

This puts HHS officials in a pickle. If they attack the Republican report as inaccurate, it will be an implicit acknowledgement that they have numbers that they aren’t releasing. So their choice is either to stay silent and let the GOP-obtained data fill the news vacuum, or release detailed enrollment data.

Maybe HHS should get MSDNC’s missing airplane psychic to figure out how many people have been enrolled.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2014 at 12:53 PM

But it’s a tax and everyone loves paying their taxes!

TinFin on May 1, 2014 at 12:54 PM

But these Obamacare posts are about whistling past the graveyard, by next Novemeber Democrats will be openly running on the ACA. Mark my words.

libfreeordie on December 20, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 12:59 PM

“This is not the higher health costs you’re looking for…move along”

BobMbx on May 1, 2014 at 12:59 PM

“I have made a solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premiums by up to $2,500 a year.

– Candidate Barry Soetoro, Hartford, Conn., June 23, 2007

ShainS on May 1, 2014 at 1:03 PM

The eternally stupid party

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Obamacare is like the joke about falliing off a high rise. Everything during the trip is great. It’s that last floor that’s a bitch. (apply this to anything the libs do, minimum wage hike, tax increases, uncontrolled spending, state pension shortfalls, entitlement dept, etc.).

warmairfan on May 1, 2014 at 1:03 PM

it’s time for the Obama administration to “come clean” on the numbers

And it will be as easy as getting the emails on Benghazi.

John the Libertarian on May 1, 2014 at 1:04 PM

ShainS on May 1, 2014 at 1:03 PM

My friend, deceptions is the new PC term for utter lies. obama is a master who has surpassed its inventors, the Russian.

Btw, those Russians in black masks sure are ‘transparent’, same as the entire obama-rulers and him too.

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 1:05 PM

http://therightscoop.com/dude-new-jersey-dem-mayoral-candidate-caught-saying-on-tape-this-is-going-to-be-a-fing-nier-town/

ToddPA on May 1, 2014 at 12:47 PM

That should have its own thread.

Murphy9 on May 1, 2014 at 12:50 PM

“Prominent Democrat”

forest on May 1, 2014 at 1:05 PM

The eternally stupid party

Schadenfreude on May 1, 2014 at 1:03 PM

…thanks!…now I have spittle coming out of the sides of my mouth…my blood pressure is spiking off the charts…and I have to sit on my hands so I can’t pick up things…to throw at the walls!…I’m going to need a jacket with arm restraints soon!

KOOLAID2 on May 1, 2014 at 1:09 PM

The amazing thing about yesterday: the Q1 GNP was in the toilet at .1% and it became news that healthcare costs had the greatest increase since 1980, yet the market set a new high.

Where do you think the Dow would be if the media was as tough on Obama as it was with Bush?

bw222 on May 1, 2014 at 1:13 PM

“Prominent Democrat”

forest on May 1, 2014 at 1:05 PM

You know, if EVER there were an event Christie could
take advantage of for political gain, this is it.

He should be out there in the media slamming this wowman
for her racism. Turn this into Sterling all over again,
and put Democrats all across the country on
defense regarding Race…

Republicans are called the Party of Stupid for a reason.

ToddPA on May 1, 2014 at 1:18 PM

One of the nicest websites that I’ve ever visited for purchasing whatever is Amazon.com. I can find stuff easily, buy whatever easily, and whatever is delivered quickly. Too bad the prez hates business as much as he does … I doubt that Amazon.com spent 3/4 of a billion dollars to build their website … the White House & HHS could have learned so much and probably for a lot less, by comparison to what they’ve done so far. That is, if the White House / HHS goal was to develop & produce a website … or just spend lots of money.

majorzot on May 1, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Ha! There’s no disconnect. This is the MO of the lib-prog-marxists. No matter what the result of their actions it either means what they did was right or is the fault of their enemies.

yhxqqsn on May 1, 2014 at 1:27 PM

One of the nicest websites that I’ve ever visited for purchasing whatever is Amazon.com. I can find stuff easily, buy whatever easily, and whatever is delivered quickly. Too bad the prez hates business as much as he does … I doubt that Amazon.com spent 3/4 of a billion dollars to build their website …

majorzot on May 1, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Just think at how much larger sales at Amazon would be if they counted everything in carts that hadn’t been paid for yet.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Just think at how much larger sales at Amazon would be if they counted everything in carts that hadn’t been paid for yet.

Happy Nomad on May 1, 2014 at 1:36 PM

Very good!!

majorzot on May 1, 2014 at 1:39 PM