Republicans pounce on Obamacare report; Democrats cry foul
February 24th, 2014
08:04 PM ET
8 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. DaveinIL

    Only in liberal land! The insurance premiums are going up for small companies but that doesn't count as taxpayer funded subsidies will reduce them for the lucky few. Of course, if you are working for a small company you're probably making too much money to get a subsidy. Catch 22!

    February 24, 2014 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  2. Thaddius

    How do you tell when a Republican is lying? Its heart is beating.

    February 24, 2014 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  3. Winning

    So they make a law ordering a bogus report and then act like it's news when they get the result they demanded. I hate the Republicans so much. I am not a big fan of the ACA, but I *hate* the Republicans.

    February 24, 2014 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  4. Norm

    "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 are those billions supposed to come from? Oh yea... other people. Nothing in this world (according to Dems) that can't be fixed with other people's money.

    February 24, 2014 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  5. bspurloc

    Hi I am the billionaire owner of FOX and u will do as I say.
    rule #1: Bush never happened.
    rule #2: Obama was elected after clinton
    rule #3 wah wah benghazi

    February 24, 2014 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. Harold Read

    Dems are in total denial that Obamacare is a disaster.
    People list their policies
    People lost their doctors
    The website cost millions over budget, behind schedule, requires millions more to fix, and millions more spent on a private company to process applicants.
    False enrollment numbers being released on a regular basis
    People paying higher premiums
    People paying higher deductibles
    Reports were released that Obamacare will cause job loses.
    Deadlines illegally pushed back on a regular basis

    Overwhelming evidence that Obamacare is a trainwreck.

    February 24, 2014 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  7. Mark

    There is a reason you cannot find a job.....

    February 24, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  8. laodegan

    The Democrats are lying again. There are no premium subsidies for small businesses. There is a tax credit available to businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The credit might make it less of a hit for the employers. But the premiums still go up, and that means employees still pay more.

    February 24, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  9. scootfl78

    What's the GOP alternative to Obamacare?

    Don't be poor when you're sick or you'll die and you'll deserve it. That's the GOP plan. The "Do Nothing" party is only fooling the fools that continue to buy their lies.

    February 24, 2014 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  10. justbeamensch

    The GOPers don't care about 50 million uninsured Americans. The GOPers will pay dearly in the next election.

    February 24, 2014 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  11. Bob

    Since the beginning of the new year our medical expenses are gone through the roof. My son's ADHD med will cost about $3,000.00+/- a year, my ADD and depression meds I have stopped taking since I would cost about the same, and we need to meet a $7,000 deductible before we start getting a break. Glad I still have a gun collection, good thing to have when you go off anti depressants.

    February 24, 2014 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  12. justbeamensch

    50 million uninsured Americans, the Repubs don't care.

    February 24, 2014 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  13. Gary

    Once again, I don't get how Money is more important than Healthcare for EVERY American? There are two things I think we lost. Good for all mankind and sharing. It all went down the drain it seems around 1980

    February 24, 2014 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  14. Sausage Frenzy

    GOP need to stop allowing their political leaders to twisting the truth to these extremes. It makes fools out of you all.

    February 24, 2014 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  15. Rabies

    Let's face it. Premiums are going up. Maybe not for everyone, but if you are young and healthy plan on paying more. That seems fair. I believe President Obama said we should tax the rich. Could that have meant taxing those who are rich in youth. Maybe that is why he wants the minimum wage to go up. That way the younger generation will have enough money to pay for the health services of us seniors.

    February 24, 2014 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  16. slyfielj

    So typical. Cherry pick data to reflect only information you want voters to hear. I wish Cathy McMorris-Rogers would just friggen retire.

    February 24, 2014 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  17. TiredofBush

    typical GOP response, if the facts don't fit their story, they simply modify the facts to fit their story line. You know if it's pouring down with rain, and they don't like that they say the sun is shinning, which is also true – at 50,000'

    February 24, 2014 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  18. Name

    Who will pay for the subsidies?

    February 24, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  19. empathy4us

    The question is not whether premiums will increase but, rather, how much will they increase in comparison to premium increases before ACA. Every study has shown that since the ACA was signed, the increase in medical costs has gone down to their lowest level in 50 years. This is the "bending of the cost curve" that was promised and delivered by the ACA.

    February 24, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  20. DH

    All the Repubs in congress have GREAT health coverage. They all have at least 5 or 6 plans to chose from under the federal employee plan(FEP). Why don't they want a large group of their fellow Americans, many who voted them into ofc not be able to see a dr?

    February 24, 2014 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  21. VJ

    Today I signed up for Obama Care... My cost of insurance came down considerably more than 500 dollars with good coverage... Thanks Obama for it...

    February 24, 2014 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  22. Edwin

    So the GOP says that Obama is manipulating the truth, and Obama says the GOP are manipulating the truth... what's new?

    February 24, 2014 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  23. Tampa Tim

    "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."

    That quote is for those who only read the headlines. You know who you are.

    February 24, 2014 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  24. Stang05

    Subsidies from where? More free money? We all wind up paying more for this.

    February 24, 2014 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  25. john

    so the higher premiums will be offset by subsidies. well yippee! we all know subsidies come from a money tree behind the white house.

    February 24, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
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