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

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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. Gunderson

    This is where the Mortgage rubs up against the Insurance Policy and a fire erupts. Subsidies? From where. Oh, I remember now, from the National Debt. O what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.

    February 24, 2014 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  2. 2_indy1600

    Say what you will about the Tea Party, they didn't lie to people about the Affordable Care Act.

    February 24, 2014 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  3. Tony in Maine

    Q. How do you know when a Republican is lying?

    A. His or her lips are moving.

    Republicans are the quintessential pathological liar quite unable to keep themselves from telling fantastic tales not unlike those told by prepubescent children trying to get their own way.

    February 24, 2014 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  4. Celebrity Dictator

    "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".

    Gee, I wonder where those billions in subsidies are going to come from?

    February 24, 2014 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  5. Will S

    "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." ... sums up all this nonsense. No story.

    February 24, 2014 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  6. Al Mahany

    I manage a small business, and our premiums went DOWN by about 15% with Obamacare. I know this because I sign the check every month.

    February 24, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  7. opinion8it

    What slippery tongued serpents these republicans are.....

    February 24, 2014 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  8. keith

    so in other words Dems were wrong and have been wrong since the very beginning. Liberal CNN just can't come out and say that though. Pfffff.

    February 24, 2014 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  9. Vegas1970

    Everyone knows that premiums will increase, but the Democrats hide behind the fact that if they make someone else pay part of those premiums, then that doesn't count.. Insurance companies sure love it…

    February 24, 2014 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  10. Thomas

    "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."

    Er......I know this a foreign concept to most DEMs, but doesn't someone have to pay for those subsidies? I know you guys ran on this being a free lunch (you know millions added to the roles, premiums going down by $2500 per family, national debt reduction, etc...), but real life just doesn't work like that. For every dollar of "free" or "saved" healthcare costs, SOMEONE has to payt for it.

    February 24, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  11. davecu

    Both parties lie!
    What should we believe? I would take a neighbor's word over ANY self-serving politician.

    Time for accountability and the 28th amendment.

    February 24, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  12. Crystal

    Whomp Whomp. I thought premiums were going to go up because the people signing up for health insurance are old, fat, and sick.

    February 24, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  13. Tad1950

    Not assigning blame to either party, but my premiums went up more than normal and for the last two years I have paid a tax assigned to the affordable health care law. So from my chair, I am paying more premium that has affected my household income and standard of living that before the law, I would not have owed.

    February 24, 2014 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  14. Topgun 74

    More proof about the disaster that is Obummercare and more proof that the King has been lying all along. Yeah remember the one about the cost would go down $2500 per family.

    February 24, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  15. The Fact of the Matter

    "....billions of dollars in subsidies that will decrease those premiums." And who will supply the money for these subsidies? You guessed it. Democrats continue to be mired to the hubs in denial.

    February 24, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  16. oscar

    If Republicans really thought Obamacare is going to be such a disaster, why do they keep lying about the numbers?

    So disingenuous – "11 million will pay higher premiums", but ignore the part in their report where 6 million will have lower premiums, and the part where subsidies will lower costs for many more. AND the part where the healthcare cost curve is bending downward, so costs for everyone will be less than they would have been otherwise in the long run.

    February 24, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  17. Robin Jones

    Shame on them for not taking those subsidies into consideration. The subsidies are absolutely free because the government pays for them.

    February 24, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  18. corpsman

    The repubs only whine. Obama does something constructive.

    February 24, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  19. Mark

    I want to know why its OK to ignore billions of dollars in subsidies? Who floats the bill for those subsidies? You and me and they would like us to just ignore that fact....?

    February 24, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  20. Glenda

    Avoid... Obamacare.

    February 24, 2014 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  21. GOPNeedsToGO

    Stop it GOP. I read some of the report and you are trying your best to destroy the bill because your rich backers don't want this. How can you listen to their front when you yourself can read the report and see that they will lie to your face about ObamaCare and try to destroy something that will take more money from their pockets. The GOP is trying to down this country. They only care about money and you being a slave.

    February 24, 2014 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  22. TheSadTruth

    By all means, let's pretend that our health care system wasn't already a travesty with 40 million uninsured and rates perpetually rising astronomically.

    February 24, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  23. Steve

    I am shocked that anything out of D.C. would raise the costs for small to medium size businesses. I mean all of us who own corporations that only do business in the USA are stuck with 40-54% tax rates depending on the state whereas the companies that donate significant monies to the Democrats like Google, Chase, Apple, etal, pay a pittance if any. Not to let the Republicans off the hook either. They have Exxon Mobil at a pittance too.
    Oh of course the liberal favorite has his money offshore completely – Mr. Soros in the Cayman Islands. Thank you liberals.

    February 24, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  24. Chas

    Billions of dollars in subsidies to offset the premiums will ultimately be paid for by you know who...

    February 24, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  25. Kevin

    Isn't the real story the Obamacare report and what it means, not what the GOP is doing in light of the report?

    February 24, 2014 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
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