Jonathan Chait writes that the Republicans have finally admitted why they oppose Obamacare. The bulk of his article is a useful recap of many of the Republican claims which have turned out to be untrue.
Republicans claimed that Obamacare is mainly signing up people who already had insurance, but actually 57 percent of those who enrolled on the exchanges previously lacked insurance. He went on to debunk conservative claims that the Affordable Care Act isn’t reducing the number of uninsured, along with false claims about insurance premiums first for this year and then projections for next year.
Finally he got to the current conservative argument:
And so conservative objections to Obamacare are finally turning from the practical to the philosophical. In response to reports that Obamacare insurance turns out to be affordable, Roy, who has spent months warning of rate shock, mocks that “other people’s money will pay for it.” Conservative columnist Byron York likewise argues “Obamacare’s ‘good news’ applies only to the poor.”
It is true that Obamacare is far more helpful to people lower down the income scale. The poorest people get Medicaid, which is free. Those higher up the income ladder get tax credits, which phase out at $45,000 a year for an individual, and $94,000 a year for a family of four. (I wouldn’t call people earning under those levels “poor.”) Of course, people who get employer-sponsored insurance also get their coverage paid for with “other peoples’ money.” The difference is that employer-sponsored insurance uses a tax deduction, which gives the largest benefits to those who earn the most money, as opposed to Obamacare’s sliding scale tax credit, which gives the most to those who earn the least.
But at least conservatives are now representing their true bedrock position on Obamacare. It is largely a transfer program benefitting people who either don’t have enough money, or pose too high a health risk, to bear the cost of their own medical care. Conservatives don’t like transfer programs because they require helping the less fortunate with other peoples’ money.
Of course even those of us who do not receive any tax credits and pay the full cost still benefit from Obamacare. While I am paying a higher premium than last year, the insurance plan I purchased is far more comprehensive and cannot be cancelled regardless of changes in medical condition. It covers preventative care with no out of pocket costs, and allows me to keep my daughter on my plan while she is in college. Obamacare does help the less fortunate. That is what we do in a civilized nation. It also helps the rest of us.