Republicans pounce on Obamacare report; Democrats cry foul
February 24th, 2014
08:04 PM ET
5 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. J R Brown

    I don't understand how the Democrats are blaming the GOP for the report when Obama signed it into law...

    Can anyone explain it to me?

    February 24, 2014 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  2. Walter

    Billions in dollars of subsidies? Hmm, I wonder where those are coming from. L&bs are so laughable. They think if it comes from the government it's always a good thing.

    February 24, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  3. Andy Ball

    The American economy continues to crumble every day, yet the President just launched new ways to destroy a $48.7 billion free-market industry? The day the USPS corners the market on short-term loans is coming fast, and we've got to stop it before the government monopolizes yet another area once controlled and prosperously maintained by the private sector. Obamacare is just the tip of the iceberg.

    February 24, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  4. Chris-E...al

    IF it were up to tha Demo crats we'd all be going to see the Medicine man at the cave on the hill .Rubing 2 sticks t0gether to make fire. Rideing shotgun on a camel to tha tradeing post .Useing a wind mill to stay warm ?Inside our renewable luxury straw grass huts ! And they trying t0 get our bow an arrow while we are getting invaded from the south! and then all the polar ice would freeze an expand an take out . uuummm ! Eureka !

    February 24, 2014 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  5. Ivan mac

    I got my letter today my family insurance went up 60 a month. Don't know anything more than fact. My insurance and taxes went up this year. I have insurance with my work. That is a simple fact. Thanks I guess?

    February 24, 2014 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  6. Steve O

    Dems: This is not a fair report, the rates are going up but due to tax-payer funded subsidies the companies won't pay extra.

    Mmm... more dem-sponsored corporate welfare.

    February 24, 2014 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  7. craigorie

    The Republicans continually take things out of context. They should really stop there wacky fixation on Obamacare because it's here to stay.

    February 24, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  8. Doug LYnn

    We all should ignore the subsidies when considering the cost of the ACA. That money is coming from current or future taxpayers. Those taxpayers are not going be creating jobs with that money or spending that money. Furthermore, what subsidies are small businesses going to get so they can keep providing medical insurance. The answer is none. The only way the subsidies occur is if the small businesses stop providing insurance, pay the government a fine instead, and the employees buy their own insurance. For lower income people the insurance will be cheaper but the co-pays and deductibles are very likely to be higher. I do not see anyone winning except those that get the new unproductive government jobs managing this mess.

    February 24, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  9. mrcasual77

    No surprise here... Democrats knew it would raise premiums & out of pocket cost just like they knew Americans would lose their Doctor & Old Insurance. YOU'VE BEEN SCAMMED AMERICA! Thank a Liberal!

    February 24, 2014 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  10. ann castro

    this healthcare law as written will not work. This admn. Is beating a dead horse.

    February 24, 2014 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  11. GTS58

    There is so much to pounce on when it comes to Obama Care – where do you start? With the trillions that it will add to the budget! With the millions of job it will cost! With the lower level of health care American will receive as a result of socialized medicine! With the thousands who lost their health care plans! With the thousands who lost their Doctor!
    Obama Care is a horrid piece of legislation – the worst in USA history – hopefully it can be repealed before it bankrupts the country!

    February 24, 2014 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  12. pubilius

    Democrats touting that they are offering billions in subsidies. No surprise. Democrats pass laws to steal money from the successful to give to others – payoffs for future votes. It would be illegal, but they passed a law by +1% at midnight.

    February 24, 2014 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  13. noteasilyswayed

    Laughable...... the GOP always decries everything and makes it sound like the end of the world..... yes, without subsidies, lots of people would be paying much more for healthcare..... without subsidies, lots of people would be paying much more for gasoline..... same can be said about anything else that we use and that is partly paid with subsidies..... but, that is not reality, so why bring it up?

    February 24, 2014 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  14. ShoogaJ

    As someone in healthcare, I can tell you premiums are going way up. Employers are being forced to dump those increases on the employees or spend the same with higher deductibles and co-pays. No matter what, the true victim is the working American. Yeah, those "folks" who politicians always say they are trying to help. Nope. Not even close.

    February 24, 2014 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  15. TiskTiskTisk

    Conservative care for humankind as a whole ... Zero,
    Conservative pockets for medical insurance kickback ... Without End
    "Affordable" healthcare ...Within our reach
    Pain for conservatives ...Priceless!

    February 24, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  16. Erick Holmes

    It's so damn poisonous on Capitol Hill. The Republicans are stale bread, and full of crooks.

    February 24, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  17. nc_mike

    Disgusting misleading half-truths from the GOP again. I just helped a single mom get ACA coverage who thought her premium for a silver plan would be $650 a month when in fact, it turned out to be less than $35/month after the subsidy.

    February 24, 2014 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Everything that's a negative about Obamacare, which is a LOT, always seems to be the fault of the Republicans so say the Democrats. The Democrat take no responsibility for the MANY, MANY things about Obamacare that were either lied about or are harmful to the American people.

    I don't buy it anymore. The Democrats better start taking responsibility for this Obamacare debacle somewhere along the line.

    February 24, 2014 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  19. Ben_Ghazi

    "It calculated health care costs in a hypothetical way – leaving out the impact of government subsidies that are specifically geared for small businesses. Without factoring in government subsidies, CMS concluded that 65% of those small businesses would see an increase in premiums." Yah, Boehner and the GOP conveniently left out that fact!

    February 24, 2014 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  20. Jack

    Why don't you idiots (meaning the GOP) start presenting your ideas to fix it or replace it! But "no" all you do put down this President because he tried! In the world "us" enterperuaners; there is a saying "I'd rather tried and failed, than tried at all"! That is we finally succeed not we do it right the first time or listen to the "nay" sayers!

    So! Tea Partiers muck off! You will lose again as your numbers decline!

    February 24, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  21. Tom in Desoto, TX

    Why have health coverage when you can support the buffoons for the next war and have the people killed? If Hitler was living the U.S. today guess which party he would he would vote with/for?

    February 24, 2014 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  22. anothermuse

    News people. It is YOUR job to make sense of reports with conflicting information and explain FACTS to the public. Just reporting on what the GOP says is not the news. The news would be cutting through the spin of the left and right. Why does a random internet poster have to explain your role in this?

    February 24, 2014 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  23. Josh

    "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."

    OH, good!! So instead of the premiums going up they'll just spend more of our tax dollars instead... Yeah, so that'll keep it cheaper... If you just look at premiums. Don't look at the tax rate though :-)

    February 24, 2014 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  24. Macv75

    Look, by now we how are rationale thinkers, know the GOP will denounce anything this current Pres. proposes.

    February 24, 2014 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  25. agnar150

    If we cut the military by half we will have enough for free healthcare.. Plus we don't need the military. Plus close all the bases that are overseas. We are just making other countries rich. This will be a win win for everyone and make our economy strong.

    February 25, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
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