Republicans pounce on Obamacare report; Democrats cry foul
February 24th, 2014
08:04 PM ET
7 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. "Breath and Release"

    They want the poor people to be responsible and pay for food, housing and heat with no money but it's wrong for working people to pay part of their healthcare costs. Is anyone else getting sick of this? Even a small attempt to work with this president would go a long way.

    February 25, 2014 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  2. Name

    Well now I either pay the house for me &purple my kids or pay health insurance that will cost me close to $10,000 per year not counting my percent per visit per person & yet have to pay my oldest child university, thanks for this burden, think i'll leave out of welfare.

    February 25, 2014 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  3. Jack Be Humble

    The true costs, benefits, and residual effects of ACA (Obamacare) will take years to truly measure.

    On the one hand, I am glad to have an ACA plan in Oregon, the only Platinum plan in that state.

    On the other, the premium isn't cheap... and I expect it to double as the market proves the correct price over the next 24 months.

    I am on a 2-4 month waiting list to see a doctor... I believe this is partly due to so many people changing doctors and getting primary care for the first time in a long time this year.

    I am willing to wait out Obamacare, and see what it looks like in 2 years. I hope it lasts that long.

    February 25, 2014 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  4. tammyk tammy

    Glad to hear that these businesses are going to have to pay their fair share. For too many years they have been getting rid of older worker in order to avoid healthcare costs and to shift those costs onto the government/middleclass taxpayers. Remember young Republican invincibles that someday you too may have found yourself getting older and losing your job and insurance through no fault of your own if Obamacare hadn't taken away some of the incentive for these companies to discriminate based on age. Spreading the risk for healthcare costs will benefit all of us except Repuglican CEOs forever whining about their grotesque salaries and bonuses.

    February 25, 2014 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  5. Monomachos

    So, Republicans are opposed to higher premiums, period and Democrats are okay with them because other people will pay for them. Another chapter in the wealth redistribution saga.

    February 25, 2014 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  6. Coffee Party

    This entire article is pointless because businesses should not be spending money on employee health insurance. With obamacare, people can shop for their own individual or family plans without the need of their employer getting involved.

    February 25, 2014 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  7. academyvillageadvocate

    If left alone, the democrats will destroy one of the best medical systems in the world and will necessitate the youth of the nation to pay for their mistakes. The president and his friends have little business or medical knowledge, only the desire to control the lives of our youth. This program is a trojan horse designed to shackle the nations youth with massive medical bills and services which they do not want or need. Congress will not use the service–Why. Just Say no at the poles–vote republican

    February 25, 2014 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  8. Jay

    So far so true. Our insurance nearly doubled, and that was just to keep the plan we liked with benefits the same as before. Luckily we can still choose a policy with a higher deductible, higher co pays, and reduced provider choices at just a tthird more to soften the impact.

    February 25, 2014 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  9. darko2k

    WAIT, there is a subsidy? Oh that makes it just peach then! Remind us again where the funding for those subsidies come from...

    They take money out of my left pocket and put some of it back in my right, hand me an inferior product and want me to thank them for it? Get real, this train wreck is still proceeding slow motion.

    February 25, 2014 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  10. rehabmax

    The Republicans are a bunch of fools. Never any ideas of their own, Just throw darts at Obama. Disgusting. Millions of people can now afford insurance that were previously denied and at a cost that is manageable. Republicans never mention that. The only thing they are good for is starting ill conceived wars.

    February 25, 2014 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  11. vbscript2

    "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""

    Bahahaha! Do they still expect anyone to buy that? Really? I work for a small business. Our health insurance premiums were roughly tracking with inflation before PPACA. Since part of it began going into effect, it's seen double-digit increases every year, even after increasing copays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maxima. It's time for Democrats to stop lying through their teeth and admit that PPACA is a huge failure. Even the CBO predicts it will result in the loss of 2.5 million jobs over the next decade and result in 7 million *less* people having employer-provided healthcare than would have otherwise had it without PPACA by the end of the 10-year projection period. It's long past time for PPACA to be repealed.

    February 25, 2014 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  12. Jolat

    Hey democrats! Who pays the freakin subsidies???

    February 25, 2014 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  13. nc1965

    You can not trust anything that the Republicans says, do, or has a hand in.

    All Republicans are corrupt.

    February 25, 2014 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  14. JC

    While the subsidies do help, they don't cover all of the increases, and most small businesses that work hard to keep their employees healthy are paying the price. Me and my business partner created a work environment that promotes health. Every employee gets a company paid gym membership, and 4 hours every 3 months of floating time to use for preventative care doctors appointments. Our employees are young, healthy, and productive. With our 20% increase, and only 50% of that covered by subsidies , it's no longer cost effective to push the health program. We have spent a lot of money running this program, but now have to end it. While some benefit a lot suffer.

    February 25, 2014 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  15. Angry Taxpayer

    What isn't expressed by democrats is the "cost shifting" that is raising premiums on those that do not qualify for subsidies and the taxes even more of the employed population must cough up to fund these subsidies. Please Democrats be honest about your theft. The public knows you are robbing the workers to fund your vote purchases.

    February 25, 2014 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  16. MeltonM

    Let's see...costs more so the government pays more. But wouldn't it just be better not to raise premiums in the first place. No! This way the government gets to pick winners and losers!

    February 25, 2014 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  17. Truth Partner 12

    Democrats said the report "ignores billions of dollars in subsidies that actually reduce costs." Come again? Paying with money taxed from workers doesn't reduce the cost at all. I see our leaders are just blinded stupid by their religious cause to create equal outcomes for all.

    February 25, 2014 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  18. mrl

    do they even listen to themselves? billions of dollars in subsidies equals HIGHER taxes on a different line item for them... geezzz.

    February 25, 2014 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  19. Thomas

    "This report is the latest instance of House Republicans attempting to peddle half-truths and incomplete data,

    Bobby Jindal / Rick Perry 2016

    We need new Jobs , both of us

    February 25, 2014 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  20. Dar

    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 JUST WHO PAYS FOR THOSE SUBSIDEIES my dear Democrats??? Can you say redistribution!!! Obama did and he very well meant it.
    ACA is a smoke and mirror trick that the Dems shoved down our throats, admit it!

    February 25, 2014 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  21. Marie MD

    OMG! Still with Obamacare?
    Give it up. Millions have already signed up.
    Why are you going to do teaklans? Just like your demi god reagan who taxed Social Security?

    February 25, 2014 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  22. Joshua b

    "Ignores billions in subsidies" – who do the democrats think pays for the subsidies? If I have $1 and you take $0.50 and then give me $0.25... I lost money. The progressives need to change the party slogan to. "I Kant math good"

    February 25, 2014 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  23. Gurgyl

    Well, subsidize–nothing wrong with ACA Law. GOP is bunch of cry babies–why didn't they pass when Reagan, Bush were presidents??? War mongrels, loots, cheats.

    February 25, 2014 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  24. Steve- Illinois

    "The average family will save $2500 a year in premiums."
    LOL

    February 25, 2014 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  25. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Run AGAINEST healthcare and Benghazi republicans, two losing issues for the GOP ,and then there's jam brewer???? Good luck in the midterms, like you need another reason to vote AGAINEST the GOP buffoons!!!!!!

    February 25, 2014 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
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