It probably didn’t get as much attention as it deserved, but something unusual happened last week: House Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) got caught telling a rather brazen lie.
GOP officials issued a “report” arguing that “only 67 percent” of consumers who enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges paid their first month’s premiums. In this case, Republicans were lying – they deliberately published a document that included fraudulent claims, intended to deceive the public, and once caught, the officials made no real effort to deny what they’d done.
Paul Krugman took Republicans to task in his new column, condemning them for “spreading disinformation about health reform because it works, and because they can – there is no sign that they pay any political price when their accusations are proved false.”
But the GOP’s failed attempt at a con arguably looks even worse this morning, with new evidence of the Affordable Care Act’s success.
Obamacare is reducing the number of Americans without health insurance. And while nobody can say for sure exactly how many people are getting coverage, Gallup just provided a pretty big clue.According to the organization, the proportion of adults without coverage last month fell to 13.4 percent. That’s lower than it was last year. That’s lower than it was when the Affordable Care Act became law – and when President Obama took office.In fact, that’s lower than it’s ever been since the beginning of 2008, before the economic crisis, which is when Gallup started taking regular monthly polls on this question.
And unlike congressional Republicans, Gallup didn’t have to manipulate the data or cook the books to get these results.
To be sure, surveys like these aren’t exact and Gallup’s data is the only available information. There have been similar reports from the Rand Corp, the Urban Institute, and others, each with varying figures on the drop in the number of uninsured.
But therein lies the point: all of the reports point in the same direction. Every piece of independent evidence from non-partisan outlets shows “Obamacare” bringing coverage, fairly quickly, to those who didn’t have insurance before.
The figures would be even more encouraging if some Republican officials weren’t blocking Medicaid expansion, denying coverage to struggling families out of partisan spite, but their tactics don’t negate the larger pattern of progress.
MIT’s Jonathan Gruber, who helped serve as the architect of both the ACA and Mitt Romney’s reform law in Massachusetts, told Jonathan Cohn, “The evidence is mounting. What is nice about these results is that the Gallup poll is somewhat noisy, but this large and consistent decline is beyond any of the noise shown in earlier years. I think it is impossible to look at this and conclude that the uninsurance rate isn’t declining in the U.S. It’s hard to say by how much, but the direction is clear.”
Apparently, if policymakers reform the health care system to make affordable medical more accessible, millions of people without coverage will gain insurance.