Two Pinocchios Is Still A Whitewash Of Harry Reid’s Obamacare Claims

“Right now, as we speak, there are 9 million Americans who have health care that didn’t have it before.”

–Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Jan. 5, 2014

The fact checker continues trying to make the regime seem plausible.

There have been lots of numbers tossed around about enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, but Reid’s figure certainly jumped out at us, given the administration is backing away from its initial target of 7 million enrollees on the exchanges.

You can look at the fact checkers rating system and see that it is biased to allow them to give Politicians a pass if they use a few facts in order to tell a lie. In this case, there were three basic whoppers Reid told mixed in with facts in order to make his claim look reasonable. This window dressing reduces how he gets rated by the self-styled “fact checker.”

The three whoppers are:

  1. They weren’t insured before.
  2. They wanted our insurance.
  3. This means they “have healthcare.”

The fact checker doesn’t even deal with this second and third premises, but it is obviously the whole point of Reid’s defense of their power grab. Obviously, if he is pretending all the people on Medicaid were not insured before, then he is also pretending that they wanted it.

But let’s take the first and obvious claim.

Reid cannot really claim that all those in the Medicaid pool are people who previously did not have insurance. More than 600,000, for instance, were transferred in California from another health-care program. (Showing how fuzzy these figures may be, Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics argues few of the 4 million in sign-ups for Medicaid can be attributed to the Affordable Care Act. He says the real number could be as low as 190,000.)

Finally, there are 2.1 million people who have signed up for the exchanges. But here Reid is also overstating the pool of enrollees. As we have noted, it is unclear at this point how many people in this pool have actually received coverage; this figure only reflects the number of people who have selected a plan.

But, more important, the number includes hundreds of thousands of people—including Reid himself—who previously had insurance but have now shifted to the exchanges.

Avalere, a health consulting firm, estimates that, once the law is fully implemented in 2017,  about 68 percent of the people who obtained insurance through the exchanges will be newly insured. Under that ratio, the number of people currently enrolled who did not previously have insurance would be about 1.4 million.

I suspect the numbers are worse, but I’ll leave the fact checker alone and move on to the two other whoppers: If many of these people were, in fact, insured before, then Reid is dodging the complaints of many who have lost their better insurance. He is assuming they are better off and pretending that assumption is an argument that they are. Instead of trying to make the case that his wins outnumber the losers he’s double counting the losers to pad his numbers of “success stories.”

But what about these insured people who wanted to pay for their policies rather than have them snatched away and forced on “free” Medicaid? Remember, it is not free. Reid is boasting that states are going to be confiscating the estates of many more people now. So these millions were not all uninsured and didn’t want to be put in plans they believed were worse. The government has kicked a man’s cane out from under him and forced him to sit in a wheelchair. Harry Reid is crowing that the Democrats gave him mobility for the first time.

But the third point was more explicit. Reid didn’t say these people “have insurance.” He said they “have healthcare.” No. They don’t. We will have to wait and see how bad it gets (while Reid’s allies do all they can to present a rosy picture). Reid certainly has no basis for claiming that they have anything more than a right to reserve a place in line.