It is difficult to say with certainly which of the many whoppers President Obama told tonight took the most crust to utter, but my money is going on this assertion, made a few minutes into the speech: “Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.” I know “Orwellian” has now become rather hackneyed, but there is simply no other adjective that better describes this statement. It is not merely a lie. It is the precise opposite of the truth. It is just as absurd as “war is peace” or “freedom is slavery.”
Portents of this stretcher began appearing over the weekend in the usual media outlets, and a particularly transparent harbinger appeared in Forbes of all places. In a column titled, “New Data Suggests Obamacare Is Actually Bending The Healthcare Cost Curve,” Rick Unger writes that “A new Congressional Budget Office report out last week has the healthcare world scratching its head over the possibility that Obamacare might—in part—be responsible for what is being described as a significant slowdown in the growth of healthcare costs in America.”
It hardly needs to be said that the report to which Unger refers fails to support his or the President’s claims. First of all, the slowdown began before Obamacare passed. Specifically, it began to manifest itself in an obvious way during 2009. Moreover, cost data are only available through last year: “National health expenditures grew at an estimated annual rate of 4.3 percent in 2012, a bit higher than the 3.9 percent experienced for each of the years 2009-2011. While this estimate is subject to revisions, it portends a fourth consecutive year of record-low growth.”
In other words, the President and his media toadies are crediting Obamacare with a slowdown that began a year before it passed and four years before the law took effect. Thus, having set the bait in his headline, Unger switches to the primary reason for the slowdown: “To be sure, a big part of the decline in healthcare spending is the result of the recession’s impact.… Indeed, up until this point, most analysts have agreed that the poor economy was pretty much the sole cause for the improvement we have seen in containing the explosion of healthcare spending.”
Unger makes much of the fact that Douglas Elmendorf, director of the CBO, is cautiously “willing to say that a ‘significant part’ of the savings are the result of structural change in how healthcare is now being delivered.” But even the New York Times admits that “A major question raised by Mr. Elmendorf and others is whether the spending will accelerate again. (It slowed in the 1990s only to pick up again last decade.)” The Gray Lady quotes former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin thus: “Premature celebration never makes sense when it comes to health care.”
Read More at spectator.org . By David Catron.
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