As the Supreme Court prepares to consider the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, opponents of the law continue to lie about its consequences.
Just last week, Republicans misrepresented a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report which said that the Affordable Care Act was expected to cost $50 billion less than they anticipated a year ago while extending coverage to 30 million Americans. In spite of what the report actually found, many Republicans have claimed that the cost of the bill would double. As FactCheck.org points out, Republicans appear to have reached their conclusion by distorting the math:
So, where did Republicans get their $1.76 trillion cost figure? That’s the gross cost for 11 years ending in 2022. Republicans inappropriately compare that figure to the original estimate of $938 billion for the 10-year period ending in 2019.
The 11-year figure is much higher because it includes three additional years of full implementation of the coverage provisions of the law. The federal subsidies and expansion of Medicaid, which are by far the most costly elements of the coverage provisions, don’t go into effect until 2014. So, that 2010-2019 estimate includes four years of very low coverage costs (relatively speaking), and the 11-year estimate only includes two years of very low costs, plus three extra years of full implementation costs.
It is worth noting that Republican attempts to repeal either the whole bill or parts of it are projected to increase the budget deficit, suggesting that Republicans are more interested in delivering a blow to President Obama than lowering the national debt. At least one conservative justice has also noted the potential for “economic chaos” if the law was struck down and health care costs rose as a result.
More to the point, however, this is not the first time that a CBO report on the health care law has been misrepresented by its opponents to make it seem like they reached a different conclusion. Nor is it the first time that claims about the law have turned out to be inaccurate. Even the suggestion that millions of Americans will lose workplace health insurance ignores the reality: While employer coverage will vacillate — as it has before the ACA was enacted — the vast majority of businesses say they will continue to offer coverage to employees when the law’s insurance exchanges start up. In fact, if Massachusetts’ health reform is any indication, employers are highly unlikely to dump employees into the exchanges.
With most legal observers believing the Court will ultimately uphold the Affordable Care Act, and few compelling legal arguments available for its opponents, it appears the only way they see fit to attack the law is to lie about it.