CBO: Obamacare to Hit Only 65 Percent of 2015 Coverage Target

Obamacare by from The Weekly Standard, March 20, 2015

Given that Obamacare’s supporters like to take the Congressional Budget Office’s overly optimistic scoring of the president’s signature legislation as gospel, it’s fun to look at how poorly Obamacare is actually doing in relation to earlier CBO projections.  When the Democrats rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote, the CBO said that the unpopular overhaul would lead to a net increase of 26 million people with health insurance by 2015 (15 million through Medicaid plus 13 million through the Obamacare exchanges minus 2 million who would otherwise have had private insurance but wouldn’t because of Obamacare).

Fast-forwarding five years, the CBO now says that Obamacare’s tally for 2015 will actually be a net increase of just 17 million people (10 million through Medicaid plus 11 million through the Obamacare exchanges minus 4 million who would otherwise have had private insurance but won’t, or don’t, because of Obamacare).

In other words, Obamacare is now slated to hit only 65 percent of the CBO’s original coverage projection for 2015.

Obamacare’s under-publicized failure on this key point is attributable to a variety of factors, including but not limited to the following:  People aren’t thrilled with Obamacare-compliant insurance’s high cost and limited doctor networks, and some would even rather pay a fine for refusing to buy such insurance than pay its premiums; the Supreme Court ruled that part of Obamacare was unconstitutional, thereby giving states more freedom not to help expand it; and HealthCare.gov has been more reminiscent of DMV.org than of Expedia.com.

In addition (and just as the CBO originally projected), the bulk of Obamacare’s net coverage gains are coming from dumping people into Medicaid (59 percent of the current projected net increase in 2015), not from getting people enrolled in private insurance (41 percent).  Of course, President Obama rarely if ever talks about that aspect of Obamacare — but Republicans should.

In light of all this, it’s time for a winning conservative alternative to Obamacare that would pave the way to full repeal, offer a flat (age-based) refundable tax credit that would get people off of Medicaid and onto private insurance (letting them shop for value in the process), and give a tax cut to millions of Main Street Americans who buy health insurance on their own.  Such everyday Americans generally receive nothing under Obamacare, have gotten the short end of the tax stick for decades, and deserve to get a tax break for buying individual-market insurance that’s roughly akin to the tax break for having employer-based insurance.

With such a tax-credit-based alternative in play, repeal can become a reality.

© 2015 Weekly Standard LLC. Reprinted with permission.