Republicans pounce on Obamacare report; Democrats cry foul
February 24th, 2014
08:04 PM ET
6 months ago

Republicans pounce on Obamacare report; Democrats cry foul

Updated 3:19 p.m. ET, 2/25/2014

Washington (CNN) -- Republicans are seizing on a new report in which the Obama administration itself concludes that the President's signature health care law would raise premiums for roughly two-thirds of small companies.

But Democrats point out that Republicans designed and ordered the report, which they say ignores billions of dollars in small business tax credits that will decrease those premiums for some companies.

The report about small business health costs is required by the 2011 Budget and Control Act and came from the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.

CMS released the report on Friday with little fanfare. Neither the HHS website nor the CMS website shows a news release or public notice about the report.

Republicans, on the other hand, wasted no time publicizing their reactions Monday.

"BREAKING: Obama administration says 11 million will pay higher premiums for their health care," read a tweet from House Speaker John Boehner's Twitter account.

"This time, the evidence comes from the Administration itself," wrote Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-highest-ranking Republican in the House. "After all of the President's promises to lower health care costs... this is just more evidence of his failure to do so."

Democrats quickly fired back, arguing that the GOP is taking the information far out of context.

"This report is the latest instance of House Republicans attempting to peddle half-truths and incomplete data," Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, wrote in a statement.

"Republicans required by law a cherry-picked report to bolster their false claims on small businesses," Hammill told CNN in an e-mail.

HHS disputed Republicans' conclusions from the report, which was produced by the independent office of the CMS Actuary.

"Since the Affordable Care Act became law, health care costs have been slowing," HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters wrote in a statement. "The law is making it easier for businesses to offer coverage"

Like most analyses of Obamacare, the new CMS report is not simple, and both sides can find evidence for their arguments.

The six-page document looked at companies with fewer than 50 workers that offer employee health benefits, but it calculated health care costs in a hypothetical way - leaving out the impact of government tax credits that are specifically geared for very small businesses, with fewer than 25 workers.

Without factoring in government tax credits, CMS concluded that 65% of those small businesses would see an increase in premiums.

Why? The report found that those companies had been paying below-average premiums, thanks in large part to having younger and healthier workers. But under Obamacare, neither pre-existing conditions, nor the lack of them, can influence the cost of premiums. So those small companies with healthier workers will see premiums rise to match the average for all workers.

"This results in roughly 11 million individuals whose premiums are estimated to be higher as a result of the ACA," the report concluded. Conversely, CMS found companies that have less-healthy workers will now see premiums decrease. That will result in "about 6 million individuals who are estimated to have lower premiums," according to the document.

Small businesses were not surprised by the report's findings.

"The CMS report isn't terribly surprising from our perspective," said Molly Day with the National Small Business Association.

She said that the organization wanted health reform but ultimately opposed the Affordable Care Act because it didn't think the law did enough to contain costs for small businesses.

The report is the latest in a long series of attempts to quantify the real-world effects of Obamacare, especially on premiums. But approaches have varied and the data constantly shift as the law goes into effect, making it difficult to draw a definitive bottom line.

In general, the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that the Affordable Care Act would not affect or would slightly decrease premiums but that the effect varies widely for different groups.

The White House did not respond to CNN's request for comment on the latest report.

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Filed under: Democrats • Obamacare • President Obama • Republicans
soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. Reasonable Descent

    Really tired of hearing all of the rhetoric. I want to see where we are in 5+ years.

    February 24, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  2. Aaron S

    Our company has 30 people and an older pool (I'm 38 and one of the youngest) so by ACA logic our premiums should go down. Nope, 18% increase for 2014 and in December we will lose our plan because it doesn't cover things we don't need. Our insurance rep has not been able to tell the owners anything except "the increase will be huge." We'll probably lose coverage and be forced onto the exchanges- just what Obama wanted all along. Another step to the single payer system.

    February 24, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. NyteShayde

    LOL, it's not news if it's not a complete report. Republicans do like their lies by omission.

    February 24, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  4. Deac

    Anyone that believes anything this administration says, has the mental capacity of the average North Korean citizen

    February 24, 2014 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  5. Craig

    Obama: "11 Million will pay higher premium. But it is okay. Other people will help pay for their higher premium." And the CNN headline: GOP pounces on Obamacare, (That's just another dog-bites-man story. A real man-bites-dog story would say:
    "CNN pounces on Obamacare for once."

    February 24, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  6. tinysview

    Larry Giddings, a friend of mine, Went to ER, late last year. it took his entire savings, $8000. He had nothing left for the required heart surgery. Obama care will allow him the surgery that is needed Monday. If he makes it through the long overdue surgery it will be due to Obamacare. I thank the God of Love and Compassion, that Larry can get this procedure.

    February 24, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  7. SteveInMN

    "When Republican'ts Attack!"

    Pretty much always. While worthless, at least they're entirely predictable.

    February 24, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  8. ObamacareSux

    I haven't talked to a single person who had a favorable experience with Obamacare. It raised our premiums significantly in NC. I spent countless hours on the phone with complete idiots.....just to get substandard insurance. Congratulations to all of the deadbeats getting subsidies. I'm glad my pain is your gain. Losers.

    February 24, 2014 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  9. Guest

    It's about time somebody pounced on all the Obama Lies.

    February 24, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  10. AC

    So, how is OBAMA doing for the Stock Market? Socialisty?
    OUTLAW the GOP

    February 24, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  11. BD

    Quick question: Who pays for the subsidies??? I thought that would be me, the taxpayer. I am not sure I follow the argument that the supports of ACA use.

    February 24, 2014 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  12. BD

    *EDIT*
    supporters (not supports)

    February 24, 2014 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    I hate republicans.

    February 24, 2014 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  14. adam wright

    ok both sides need to relax a little - Democrats who do you think are paying for the subsidies ? Taxes fund the subsidies and where do taxes come from? Republicans - Come up with something better - like let insurance be sold across state lines. Our business could save thousands of dollars in premiums if we were only allowed to purchase insurance in North Carolina. We need to do something to help with Health Care - please work together you will not always get everything you want.

    February 24, 2014 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  15. teamtrek

    The insurance companies would continue to raise rates whether ACA passed or not. Now they just have someone else to blame.

    February 24, 2014 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  16. JohnRJohnson

    Another half-truth from the Republican Party.

    February 24, 2014 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  17. conoclast

    Enough fooling around, it's time now to do what we should have initially: insist on universal, SINGLE PAYER, NATIONALIZED health care! What makes us so pig-headed about simply doing what's best for ourselves??

    February 24, 2014 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  18. Truck

    But Democrats point out that Republicans designed and ordered the report, which they say ignores billions of dollars in subsidies that will decrease those premiums.

    And where does the BILLIONS of $$$$$ come from? Obama has become Jimmy Carter faster than Jimmy Carter became Jimmy Carter...

    February 24, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  19. johnk

    Here is how many employers are dealing with Obamacare. Employers are cutting hours of employees so as to go to P/T and thereby avoid paying for Obamacare. So You see it is really a cat and mouse game. I could have told you this was gong to happen, but who would believes me, no one. A lot of fools run most of Washington unfortunately.

    February 24, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  20. I Believe in Unicorns, and things Obama Says

    The NY times award Obama another Four Pinocchio Award for his Medicare claims today. The Liar of the Year 2013 however is more trusted by CNN than this study. NEWSFLASH: We all know Obama lied, Democratic Party Leaders lied, and costs went up.

    February 24, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  21. Smeagel4T

    But then again, it's not unusual to have to pay a little more to get legitimate insurance instead of the "you pay us, then we split when you need us" insurance most people have had to suffer under.

    February 24, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  22. ned Needlemier

    Yes I agree with the report. The health care costs for my family tripled. Our private health care provider ended our policy in Dec 2013, and forced us into the ACA system. In the ACA system, from the same provider, my family coverage tripled. We saw nothing like the rates shown on news reports. You can not get those rates in NY if your a middle income family. So in order to have health care, we have to pay the higher rate. There is no option. This is a real strain on the household budget.

    February 24, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  23. Mark Woodward

    Company health plan went up over 60%. They pay for the whole plan thankfully, but guess how small raises and bonuses will be this year. Dems seem to think this money is coming from the money tree. I emailed my US Senator to detail the increase and received a form email back saying how great the plan is. Got news for Dems – alot of middle of the road politically individuals who just live their lives just fell off the fence. Hope your not standing where they fall.

    February 24, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  24. Jumpy

    Well, those subsides aren't paid with money grown on trees - they are paid for with higher taxes.

    February 24, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  25. NameA Lifetime of Hard Work

    Bad/deliberately incomplete science- again- from the GOP.

    February 24, 2014 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
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