Heritage’s Accidental Guide To Everything Going Well With Obamacare

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint CREDIT: AP IMAGES
Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint CREDIT: AP IMAGES

As more than 8 million Americans sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, critics are struggling to come up with a truthful counter narrative against the law. On Monday, the Heritage Foundation — the organization which developed many of the law’s central tenets of the law during the late 1980s and 1990s — embodied this struggle. The conservative think tank published a piece titled, “9 Obamacare Predictions That Have Come True.” The only problem? None of them actually have:

1. “The individual mandate is an enforcement nightmare.”

The Washington Post reported last month that very few Americans have taken advantage of the exemption to buying coverage and that most are “taking action as a result of the health-care law are by and large choosing to comply with the mandate.” And though the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sees enforcement on the individual responsibility provision as a challenge, it’s far from a nightmare — at least not yet. “Individuals will report their own coverage on the 2014 income tax return that they file in 2015,” IRS officials say. “The accuracy of the information shown on the tax return is the responsibility of the taxpayer.”

2. “The law will create new disincentives to work.”


The economy has been slowly recovering and adding hundreds of thousands of jobs since the passage of Obamacare. For instance, the latest job report showed that the nation added 288,000 jobs in April — with the construction and health industries, retailers and bars and restaurants all gaining jobs.

3. “The law, particularly the employer mandate, will impose new costs on businesses that undercut jobs and wages.”

The administration delayed employer responsibility provision to allow large businesses more time to comply with the new requirement — and while businesses are uncertain about the new changes, surveys show that American companies expect to actually increase the number of full-time employees as the economy improves.

4. “The law undermines competition and further consolidates health insurance markets.”

The health care market has been consolidating for years, but the ACA has actually spurred competition within the law’s marketplaces. In fact, on average, individuals and families were able to choose from 53 qualified health plans and “insurers are considering expanding their stake in the Obamacare exchanges next year.” In January, Reuters reported that Kentucky and Rhode Island are expecting more issuers to join the program in 2015 and on Sunday, the Seattle Times noted that “more insurance carriers have made bids to offer health plans inside Washington’s online exchange for coverage in 2015.” In total, at least 10 states are expecting more companies.

5. “The law guarantees major premium increases.”

Last month, the Congressional Budget Office found that premiums for health care insurance in the Affordable Care Act are lower than the federal government had anticipated and as a result the ACA will cost the government $5 billion less than projected in 2014 and $104 billion less for the 2015–2024 period. There is also increasing evidence that the concerns about too many older and sicker enrollees, which could result in big premium increases, are largely overblown.

6. “The law discourages insurance enrollment among the young.”

Obamacare experienced a surge in enrollment last month, as nearly 3.8 million people selected a plan through the exchanges, including 1.2 million young people. During a recent Politico event, insurers confirmed that the average age of enrollees is decreasing.

7. “The law’s Medicare savings would not financially strengthen Medicare.”

The law’s reductions to Medicare Advantage have not weakened the program, as many critics claimed. In fact, in the four years after Obamacare became law, Medicare premiums have fallen by nearly 10 percent and enrollment has increased by 38 percent to an all-time high. 7.9 million people with Medicare have also saved over $9.9 billion on prescription drugs and 37.2 million Medicare beneficiaries received free preventive services in 2013.

8. “The law’s Medicare changes will result in reduced benefits and threaten seniors’ access to care.”

The number of doctors accepting Medicare is actually increasing — and “there are more new primary care physicians entering the health care system than older physicians dropping out.” Approximately 90 percent of office-based physicians “accept new Medicare patients, a rate similar to those who take privately insured patients.” The rate of Medicare patients who say they can find a new doctor in a timely manner is also “similar to those who are privately insured.”

9. “The law compels taxpayers to fund abortion and weakens protections of the right of conscience.”

In a deal with pro-life Democrats, the ACA maintained the status quo on the funding of abortion coverage and the law allows states to restrict abortion coverage on the exchanges. Religion nonprofit organizations can also exempt themselves from providing contraception coverage.