If there were a contest for the biggest lie in Washington over the past 30 years, it would be hard to compete with President Obama’s boast that he would put 30 million more Americans on Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies, and this would reduce the budget deficit. That’s got to be right up there with President Clinton declaring, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”
A new Congressional Budget Office report has blown the lid off the Obama whopper fib. The Congressional Budget Office reports that through the first four months of fiscal 2015, federal spending is rising at an 8.2 percent clip. Most components of spending are relatively flat and national defense outlays — the most important function of government — are falling. Still, one area accounts for almost the entire budget blowout: Obamacare.
Medicaid spending is up a stratospheric 23 percent so far this year thanks to massive new enrollments. In addition, the $7 billion in Obamacare “exchange subsidies” so far this year brings the rise in costs of the “Affordable” Care Act to nearly 30 percent. In one year. And in an era of almost no inflation. Obamacare has turned out to be, just as feared, the largest expansion of government since the Great Society.
This stampede of rising health costs was so predictable that most budget experts acknowledged — even liberals, privately — costs would spike when the new health law insurance subsidies kicked in. It had to happen. How could we possibly put tens of millions more Americans on Medicaid and other taxpayer assistance and also save money at the same time? It was a laughable claim that Team Obama somehow reiterated time and again — and they even managed to keep a straight face.
And this is a president who lectures Republicans in Congress about “simple math.”
But now that Obamacare is the law of the land, the White House openly boasts about how many people are relying on taxpayers for health coverage. Listen to what the administration gleefully reported late last year:
“Today’s Medicaid enrollment report shows even more great news: Approximately 8.7 million additional Americans now have coverage through Medicaid and [the Children’s Health Insurance Program], many for the very first time. Medicaid enrollment grew to more than 67.9 million in August 2014, which shows nearly a 15 percent increase over the average monthly enrollment for July through September 2013.”
Wait. This is “great news?” How is putting more people on Medicaid a triumph? Medicaid is a welfare program. If this were a well-functioning economy with good jobs, Medicaid rolls would be shrinking and Americans would be coming self sufficient.
Mr. Clinton used to boast — justifiably so — after signing welfare reform about the millions of people that were taken off welfare during his watch. This president perversely boasts about how many people he puts on welfare.
A major reason more people are on Medicaid is that a near-record number of Americans of working age don’t have a job. They can’t get health care through their non-existent employer. At the same time, employers are also dropping their health coverage and dumping employees and their families on Medicaid and the Obamacare exchanges. How is this a victory?
Meanwhile, families are reporting hikes in premiums and fees. Premiums for Obamacare plans are on average between 7 percent and 15 percent last year for the broad coverage plans. Firms are just starting to respond to the spike in costs by dumping more workers into the government exchanges, which means even higher taxpayer costs.
So, no, Obamacare has not saved families $2,500 a year. No, it hasn’t “bent the cost curve for health care down.” It has made the budget deficit much worse. Americans are losing the health coverage they have. This begs the question: Is there a single promise that Mr. Obama made about Obamacare that has proven truthful?
• Stephen Moore is chief economist at the Heritage Foundation and a Fox News contributor.