National Review columnist offers an Obamacare progress report

Ramesh Ponnuru shares with National Review readers his assessment of the Affordable Care Act’s progress in meeting the goals set by its supporters.

Supporters of the law, very much including the president himself, made three principal claims on its behalf while getting it through Congress and defending it afterward. First, it would dramatically expand coverage. …

… Second, the law would control costs, reducing both premiums and deficits. President Obama said that premiums for the average family would drop by $2,500. And third, the plan would leave existing insurance policies alone. You’d be able to keep your plan, and your doctor, if you wanted. …

… By the standards President Obama set, however, the law is closer to a failure than a success. Its biggest achievement is a modest decline in the percentage of Americans without insurance. And it is modest: Even the highest estimate of the increase in coverage (the one derived from Gallup polling) suggests that the percentage of Americans uninsured has dropped merely to around the level of 2008. At this point at least, even the projection the CBO made just a year ago (of 14 million fewer uninsured) seems implausibly optimistic.

Obama’s other promises — which were stated in strong terms — have largely failed to come about. Premiums have not dropped by $2,500 per family; it is not clear that the law has brought them down, on average, at all. For millions of people they have gone up, thanks to the plan’s regulations. Supporters say that in return for these higher premiums people are getting better coverage (and social justice). It’s a debatable point, but it’s not the way the law was sold.

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