by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Yuval Levin explains for National Review Online readers why President Obama was wrong to claim as recently as this spring that “for the average American out there, for the 85 to 90 percent of Americans who already have health insurance, this thing’s already happened, and their only impact is that their insurance is stronger, better, more secure than it was before.”
This claim was always pretty absurd on its face. The law’s blunt cuts to Medicare, which come without a reform of the system that could allow it to function much more efficiently, are predicted (by the administration’s own actuaries) to yield serious access problems if they are actually allowed to take effect; the vast increase in the Medicaid population without a commensurate increase in the supply of medical services available to Medicaid beneficiaries looks likely to do the same; and new insurance rules, taxes, and mandates will have major effects on the entire private insurance market.
The last few days have brought fresh evidence on the latter front, and suggested that controlling the conversation about Obamacare in the lead-up to the implementation of its major provisions may not be as easy as the administration had hoped.
First, the changes that large employers are making to employee health coverage have been getting some attention. The big story this week involved the decision by UPS to drop coverage for the spouses of thousands of employees because those spouses are eligible for some insurance coverage from their own employers. The company’s announcement specifically attributed the change to Obamacare, noting that “this change is consistent with the way many large employers are responding to the costs associated with the Health Care Reform legislation.” …
… And large employers are not alone. Recent weeks have seen some troubling news for small employers—even (in fact, especially) in Massachusetts, which was supposedly the model for Obamacare. And yesterday (it was a long day for Obamacare) came some new evidence of big-labor unhappiness. The AFL-CIO of Nevada passed a resolution demanding that its members be allowed to keep the insurance coverage they have, which is set to be made untenable under Obamacare. “[O]ur union members and their families originally offered strong political and moral support for the promise of the Affordable Care Act,” the resolution stated. But because of the law’s definition of full-time work and because the unions have been unable to get the administration to exempt union plans from the law’s insurance rules, “the unintended consequences of the ACA will lead to the destruction of the 40 hour work week, higher taxes and force union members onto more costly plans.” These “unintended consequences” were of course plainly evident before the law was enacted, but the union apparently assumed they wouldn’t apply to core Democratic constituencies.