"Health insurance gains due to Obama's law, not economy"
Wow. That's the clearly-worded, no-bones-about-it headline of an AP story by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar a few hours ago:
There's growing evidence that most of the dramatic gain in the number of Americans with health care coverage is due to President Barack Obama's law, and not the gradual recovery of the nation's economy.
That could pose a political risk for Republicans running against "Obamacare" in the GOP primaries as they shift to the general election later this year.
...Under "Obamacare," the share of Americans without health insurance has dropped to a historic low of about 9 percent, with room to go even lower. But even as the economy has expanded, major government surveys point to a lackluster rebound for employer-based coverage.
The article goes on to cite the Census Bureau's American Community Survey; the CDC's National Health Interview Survey and the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, all of which basically state--as I just noted in my "Heritage Foundation" follow-up story a few hours ago--that employer-sponsored insurance coverage really hasn't changed much one way or the other over the past few years.
"This kind of shift in insurance I don't think can be explained by the economy," economist Christine Eibner of the RAND Corporation said. "The increase (in coverage) is large enough that it can't be driven by just economic recovery."
Kaestner said "most of the heavy lifting" seems to be coming from Medicaid expansion.
This is hardly shocking news, but it also definitely puts the Republican Party in a bind:
On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidates denounce "Obamacare" for a litany of woes. But some prominent conservative experts recognize that the law has increased coverage, even as they propose other approaches to meet that goal.
"Repealing the law without a plausible plan for replacing it would be a mistake," said a policy paper from 10 leading GOP health policy experts, published by the business-oriented American Enterprise Institute.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has already previewed how Democrats might use the issue this fall, frequently reminding voters they risk losing some popular benefits if the health care law is eliminated. Meanwhile, a nonpartisan analysis of Trump's initial outline for repealing and replacing the health care law found it would push millions back into the "uninsured" category.
The analysis last week from the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that the Trump plan would increase the number of uninsured by about 21 million people while costing the government nearly $500 billion over 10 years.
Hmmmm...that would raise the uninsured population right back up to where it was in 2009. On the bright side, seeing how Harvard Medical School determined that 45,000 Americans were dying every year due to being uninsured, perhaps Donald Trump could just stack the corpses 30 feet high along the Mexican border and use them to form his "big, beautiful wall".