Why Obamacare Remains Vulnerable to Repeal

January 27th, 2016

Avik Roy analyzes recent CBO estimates that “slashed their 2016 estimates of exchange enrollment from 21 million to 13 million.” He explains, in very clear terms, why the law is nowhere near as secure as some may think–the number of people harmed by the law far exceeds the number of people who benefited from the law. Also, those who benefited are unlikely to vote, or even be registered. Read this analysis in its entirety:

For all of the taxes and regulations and spending contained in Obamacare, what’s remarkable about the law is that it has only reduced the percentage of U.S. residents without health insurance by 2.7 percentage points between 2008 and 2014. The total U.S. population in 2014 was 318.3 million, meaning that the total impact of Obamacare on the uninsured population, on a 2014-adjusted basis, was around 8.6 million.

Remember that only a fraction of that 2.7 percent are U.S. citizens who can vote. “It has been reported that only a third of the uninsured are even registered to vote,” complained New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.) in 2014. Obamacare, said Schumer, “made no political sense.”

Also note that 8.6 million is a far lower figure than the number of people currently enrolled in Obamacare-sponsored products. Elsewhere in the latest Budget and Economic Outlook, CBO stated that “average monthly enrollment of newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries was…9.6 million [in 2015] compared with 6.1 million in 2014.” Adding that to exchange enrollment gets you to roughly 24 million people on Obamacare-sponsored products.

The Obama administration often boasts about that much larger figure, claiming that 24 million people have been helped by Obamacare. But the government’s official estimates are that it’s under 9 million. Of which only a fraction can vote in the 2016 election.

Compare that to the number of people whose plans have been canceled (6 million), or the number of people who’ve had their premiums or their taxes hiked (dozens of millions). And that’s why Obamacare remains gravely vulnerable to repeal.

This is frankly inescapable from a political perspective. If people aren’t happy with the law, it doesn’t stay forever. The arguments about entrenchment seem much weaker in 2016 than they did in 2013–especially as states continue to refuse to expand Medicaid, a decision that frankly hasn’t been much of an issue on the national or local level.