On the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Mitt Romney seems willing to say almost anything to distance himself from the fact that his 2006 Massachusetts health care law served as a template for the national coverage expansion — even if it includes outright lying about its provisions.
During an event this morning in Louisiana, Romney told at least three whoppers. The former governor said that a recent Congressional Budget Office report concluded that the costs of the law have doubled, cited a discredited study claiming that 30 percent of employers will stop offering insurance as a result of the law, and insisted that the Catholic Church would be required to offer birth control to its employees:
— ROMNEY LIE 1: “And we’ve just learned from the CBO, it’s not a trillion dollars. It’s more like double that…Obamacare is massively more expensive than had been originally estimated.”
— ROMNEY LIE 2: “Thirty percent of employers said they are going to drop the coverage for their employees when Obamacare is installed.”
— ROMNEY LIE 3: “The Catholic Church is being told that they have to provide insurance that covers morning after pills, sterilizations, and contraceptives. Despite the fact that these very features violate the conscience of the Catholic Church itself.
But he’s wrong — dead wrong on all three points. In a report released last week, the CBO actually found that the Affordable Care Act was expected to cost $50 billion less than they anticipated a year ago. Romney is twisting the results by referring to the gross cost of the legislation for 11 years ending in 2022 — $1.76 trillion — and comparing it to the original cost estimate of $938 billion over 10 years ending in 2019. As FactCheck.org explained, “The 11-year figure is much higher because it includes three additional years of full implementation of the coverage provisions of the law.” After accounting for the law’s offsets, the “net” cost of the coverage provisions are “expected to be somewhat lower than projected two years ago. Comparing the eight years that are common to both estimates, the net cost is now predicted to be $772 billion, or about half a percent lower than originally estimated.”
Romney’s claim that 30 percent of employers will drop coverage comes from a study conducted by McKinsey, which after stirring much controversy, promptly walked back its projection. McKinsey stressed that the report “was not intended as a predictive economic analysis of the impact of the Affordable Care Act. Rather, it captured the attitudes of employers and provided an understanding of the factors that could influence decision making related to employee health benefits.” The CBO projects that 3 to 5 million employees may lose coverage, while surveys of employers have found that the vast majority of businesses will continue to offer insurance 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.
Finally, as Romney well knows, the Catholic Church — and all houses of worship — are specifically exempt from the rule requiring employers to provide preventive services like contraception to their employees. Yet he continues to repeat the lie incessantly, suggesting that he’s willing to say anything to appeal to the conservative base and win the election.