RNC eyes health care database

**FILE**Internet users work at computers at the Philadelphia Public Library in Philadelphia on May 31, 2002.
**FILE**Internet users work at computers at the Philadelphia Public Library in Philadelphia on May 31, 2002.
As party officials are often quick to admit, Republicans have generally trailed Democrats when it comes to technology and online innovation, but the RNC is reportedly putting together one database unlike anything the DNC has.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is building a database with the names of those who received insurance cancellation notices under ObamaCare, with the hope of capturing voters who believe they've been negatively affected by the healthcare law. An RNC spokesman wouldn't provide any further details on the initiative for fear of giving away the strategy, but confirmed what Chairman Reince Priebus first told The Washington Examiner over the weekend.

Priebus described the information as "important for us to have," and has recruited "top engineers" from the tech industry to work on the project.
In theory, a database like this could be useful in helping policymakers reach out to affected consumers -- if it were easy to identify everyone who received a cancellation note, it'd be easier to make sure they've successfully transferred to a new plan at a good price.
Of course, that's not at all what the RNC wants to do. The point, rather, is to build the database so as to make attacks on the Affordable Care Act easier, not to help those whose names may appear in the database.
Regardless, the RNC may be disappointed with the results of the project. For one thing, many of the people whose previous, substandard plans were eliminated are thrilled with the change. For another, many of these same folks would have no interest in going backwards by seeing the law repealed.
But perhaps most important of all is the fact that the database would only include a tiny percentage of the population.
There's never been a firm count of exactly how many consumers actually received these cancellation notices. We're talking about a subset of the population anyway -- Americans who purchased individual plans in the non-group market -- who saw frequent changes to coverage long before the ACA even passed.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), whose propensity for exaggerations is often extraordinary, said the reform law would cause as many as 100 million insurance cancellations. By more sensible estimates, Rogers appears to be off by about 99 million.

[A]bout 1.3 million people had their policies canceled and had to pay full freight for a new policy. Since the error bars on this estimate are fairly large, that comes out to somewhere in the neighborhood of 1-2 million people. In other words, less than 1 percent of the country, mostly made up of people with incomes that are higher than average. You can decide for yourself if this is a lot or a little.

And remember, many of these same consumers were delighted to receive cancellation notices, since it represented an opportunity to move to a better, more secure insurance plan.
If the RNC has very much invested in this database project, the payoff is likely to prove underwhelming.