Increase demand for health care and reduce the cost of care… that was the the major thrust of the Obamacare sales job. It didn’t take an MIT economist to realize that the promise would be unattainable without major steps to enhance the supply of medical care. Unfortunately, nearly everything in the ACA and its implementation ensured the opposite, from the medical device tax to compliance burdens on providers and low reimbursement rates. Given the supply constraints, it should be no surprise that access to care among the newly insured is limited. Scott Atlas notes that Obamacare placed an emphasis on general care rather than specialist care, despite the growing need for specialists to serve the needs of an increasingly elderly population:
“Virtually all patients with serious diseases today are managed by specialists and with advanced technology. For seniors, visits to specialists have increased from 37% of visits two decades ago to 55% today. And that’s appropriate, because those are the doctors who have necessary training and expertise to use the complex diagnostic tests and devices, state-of-the-art procedures, and novel drugs of modern medicine. … Fittingly, Americans unambiguously prioritize the latest medical technology.”
Atlas also points out that most of the newly insured obtained their coverage via Medicaid:
“Medicaid is already refused by more than half of doctors across America, according to 2013 data from a 2014 Merritt Hawkins survey. Likewise, more than 20% of primary care doctors already accept no new Medicare patients, five times the percentage who refuse new privately insured patients.
In 2012 alone, CMS reported that almost 10,000 doctors opted out of Medicare, tripling from 2009. And, counter to the administration’s demonization of private insurers, it is Medicare that consistently ranks at the top of the charts for the highest rates of claim refusals….”
In describing the campaign to make Obamacare law, the pejorative “sales job” never seemed more appropriate in light of the recent revelations provided by the Jonathan Gruber videos. He is the aforementioned MIT economist, and his statements indicate that the law’s team of elite architects knew full well that selling it would require deceit. Here are links to two perspectives on this crew’s dishonesty and contempt for voters: first, Clive Crook provides a Democrat voter’s perspective on certain tendencies in the party that he finds regrettable:
“This syndrome of Democratic disdain, I think, has two main parts. First, liberals have an exaggerated respect for intellectual authority and technical expertise. Second, they have an unduly narrow conception of the values that are implicated in political choices. These things come together in the conviction that if you disagree with Democrats on universal health insurance or almost anything else, it can only be because you’re stupid.
Voters recognize this as insufferable arrogance and, oddly enough, they resent it. Democrats who might be asking where they went wrong in the mid-term elections — not that many of them are — ought to give this some thought. The conviction that voters are stupid, however, isn’t just bad tactics. It’s also substantively wrong.”
Jonah Goldberg offers a view of the Obamacare deceit from the right:
“Speaking of transparency, the Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney notes that Obama frequently attacked the ‘special interests’ opposed to the bill even though the very same interests supported the bill thanks to the generous bribes — er, ‘subsidies’ — included therein. From the Rose Garden in 2009, Obama attacked drug companies for opposing the bill, even though he knew the drug lobby helped craft it. (Carney notes, ‘Behind closed doors, the White House apologized to drugmakers for that line, blaming a ‘young speechwriter.’’)”
Here is an earlier SCC post on the Gruber videos, including the damage wrought by Gruber to the government’s argument in the upcoming King v. Burwell case to be heard by the Supreme Court next year.