Just how much spin can Dick Durbin fit into a single response? Yesterday on Face the Nation, Senator Durbin told Bob Schieffer that “the bottom line” on ObamaCare was that it would lower the deficit more than Democrats first claimed, and that 10 million Americans had gotten insurance through it and would otherwise be uninsured:
SCHIEFFER: Let me also ask both of you, more confusion, apparently, now, on — on health care. We now learn that the administration has told people, although they haven’t announced it publicly or hadn’t at the time, Senator Durbin, that if you don’t like your health care plan, in some cases, you can now switch and get another one. I mean, this thing just seems, every day, in every way, seems to me more confused. Is there any hope of getting it straightened out?
DURBIN: Bob, let’s look at the bottom line. The bottom line is this. Ten million Americans have health insurance today who would not have had it without the Affordable Care Act — 10 million. And we can also say this. It is going to reduce the deficit more than we thought it would. We were seeing a decline in the growth of the cost of health care, exactly our goal in passing this original legislation. I’m finding people, as I go across Illinois, who, for the first time in their lives, have an opportunity for affordable health insurance for their families. Now, there are many republicans who are wishing that this fails, hoping they can find any shred of evidence against it. But we had a bad rollout. Let’s concede that point. Since then, we are gaining steam. And I think, ultimately, we’re going to find you can’t go back. You have to extend the health insurance protection to the 25 million, 30 million Americans who will ultimately have it, and we’ll be a better nation for it.
First, the CBO report did not say that deficits would be lower than claimed because of ObamaCare. In fact, they warned of rapidly increasing deficits by the end of the current ten-year projection, after a small decline at present to, er, a half-trillion dollars — larger than any fiscal year in a George W. Bush-signed budget.
But more astonishing is the claim that 10 million people have insurance now that would not have had it without ObamaCare. In fact, the opposite is true — there have been fewer confirmed enrollments through ObamaCare than the number of people who have lost their existing insurance plans because of the changes. The absurd nature of this flat-out lie prompted the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler to award Durbin four Pinocchios for the claim (via JWF):
Durbin went a step further and claimed that all of these people would not have had health insurance if not for the Affordable Care Act.
That’s simply ridiculous. For instance, members of Congress, such as Durbin, previously had health insurance and are now obligated to get it via the exchanges. But the problem goes deeper than that.
The Wall Street Journal in January detailed some of the surveys that have taken of people who obtained insurance through the exchanges, and the results so far indicate that the vast majority of enrollees were previously insured.
Durbin appears to have taken two dodgy claims from the White House and added them together — those signed up for plans through exchanges and the addition of 6.3 million people to Medicaid. The issue of sign-ups vs enrollments and the previous status of those actually enrolled is part of the problem with Durbin’s claim, but so is the Medicaid figure:
Meanwhile, just last Avalere threw cold water on the 6.3 million Medicaid figure, estimating that only 1.1 to 1.8 million of the enrollees could be attributed to the Affordable Care Act. That estimate generated headlines, including a full report in The Washington Post that said it suggested “many of the people who have joined the program since the initiative’s rollout in October would have done so absent the law.”
In other words, the Medicaid enrollment numbers are so suspect that, at this point, they should not be used in any formulation regarding the Affordable Care Act.
In fact, almost all of the numbers are suspect, thanks to the incompetence at HHS and the severe flaws of the exchanges. That’s the bottom line.
Update, 2/12: It was Face the Nation, not Meet the Press, Thanks to Kerry Picket for the correction.