by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
February 20, 2014
MORAL MONDAYS: A NEW MOVEMENT RISES IN THE SOUTH
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- I haven't had a chance to use my Obamacare yet, but I have my health insurance card, I'm getting monthly bills from Vermont Health Connect, and I will be saving my financially-strapped nonprofit weekly newspaper about $3,000 a year that would have been paid toward my coverage.
Since my paper doesn't have many full-time employees, we took advantage of the state of Vermont's offer to insure our employees through Vermont Health Connect, thus freeing us of the burden of spending money we often don't have for health insurance. Now, that money can be used to pay for our other expenses.
And should I lose my job, I will still have my insurance. For the first time in my adult life, my ability to have decent health care coverage that I can afford doesn't depend on where I'm employed or if I'm employed. As someone in his early 50s, that is huge.
These things are just part of the economic impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which made this scenario possible.
But don't take my word for it. Here's what the Congressional Budget Office said about the ACA:
"The expanded federal subsidies for health insurance will stimulate demand for goods and services, and that effect will mostly occur over the next few years. That increase in demand will induce some employers to hire more workers or to increase their employees' hours during that period."
Want more? How about this, also from the CBO: "The ACA will boost overall demand for goods and services over the next few years because the people who will benefit from the expansion of Medicaid and from access to the exchange subsidies are predominantly in lower-income households and thus are likely to spend a considerable fraction of their additional resources on goods and services."
Here are a few other tidbits from the CBO: Because the ACA has been cheaper to implement than first thought, it will "markedly increase" the number of people who have health insurance, and it will give older workers who aren't old enough to qualify for Medicare and couldn't afford to buy insurance on their own the option to work fewer hours or switch jobs. That, in turn, will free up jobs for other workers.
More people are getting health insurance, and for less money. That translates into increased buying power for the people who no longer have to spend so much money on insurance. And now you know why Republicans in Congress have been frantically trying to repeal or sabotage the ACA. Or why most of the Republican governors have refused to expand their Medicaid programs, even though it would be paid for by the feds. The GOP knows in their bones that Obamacare is working, and once people discover that fact, their party is toast. That's why they immediately spread lies and distortions about the CBO report.
Take the "Obamacare will put 2 million Americans out of work" lie. It is such a lie that the CBO had do to something it rarely does - issue a follow-up memo to reiterate what they said in the original report.
"We wrote in the report: 'CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor.'
`"The reason for the reduction in the supply of labor is that the provisions of the ACA reduce the incentive to work for certain subsets of the population. ... Because the longer-term reduction in work is expected to come almost entirely from a decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply in response to the changes in their incentives, we do not think it is accurate to say that the reduction stems from people 'losing' their jobs."
You will not hear a Republican acknowledge this. They would rather sow doubt among undecided voters than tell the truth.
Yes, the rollout of the ACA was clumsy, mainly because Republicans in Congress refused to provide adequate resources to implement the law. But while 50 percent of Americans (according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll) have a negative view of the ACA, 55 percent say it should be improved, not repealed.
There is far more good than bad when it comes to the ACA. And as more people find out the good parts of the law, the more difficult it be for Republicans to attempt to repeal it.
AR's Chief of Correspondents, Randolph T. Holhut, holds an Master's in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and has been an award-winning journalist in New England for more than 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.