It’s no secret that the GOP hates the Affordable Care Act (ACA). More than 40 unsuccessful attempts to repeal it before it was implemented cemented where they stood on the issue.
Many Republican-controlled states refused the completely federally-funded Medicaid expansion and refused to create their own health insurance exchanges. From the beginning, the GOP predicted that health insurance premiums would “skyrocket” and, in some parts of the country, double from their pre-ACA rates.
As the 2015 coverage open-enrollment dates approach, data show that some premiums did go up, but they hardly shot up at the rates that conservatives predicted. Among the 27 states for which data is available, the average premium increase was just 7.5 percent — a far cry from doubling.
In states like Kentucky and Oregon — states that not only accepted the Medicaid expansion but also set up their own insurance exchanges — rates increased by less than the 7.5 percent average. Oregon actually saw it’s average premium rate decrease by 2.5 percent, with some plans decreasing by nearly 21 percent. Kentucky, a deeply red state whose Democratic governor was praised for his roll out of the state’s exchange, saw an average increase of under five percent, with many premiums decreasing by more than three percent. The percentage of uninsured residents in the Commonwealth was also nearly cut in half after the ACA went into effect.
The states that are still fighting the ACA have had different results. The GOP is using these states to prove their point that the healthcare law doesn’t work, even though they fail to mention that it is their own fault the ACA is unsuccessful.
In Florida, for example, Gov. Rick Scott (R) has tirelessly touted the evils of the ACA. After it was projected that premiums in the state could go up by 13.2 percent for the 2015 enrollment year, Scott said in a statement that “Obamacare is a bad law that just seems to be getting worse,” and “Florida families are going to be slammed with higher costs. Obamacare has failed to live up to its promises in nearly every way.”
Scott didn’t bring up that he and his Republican-controlled legislature have done everything they can to make sure that the ACA fails in Florida. Aside from refusing the Medicaid expansion and not setting up a state insurance exchange, last June, Scott signed a bill that “removed the ability of state regulators to challenge health insurance rates for a two-year period.”
US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) unsuccessfully called for the bill’s veto, saying it was “unconscionable.” Nelson said in his veto request that the removal of the state regulation was a pre-emptive move to be able to blame the ACA if rates went up. Nelson’s spokesman, Dan McLaughlin said the bill was “outrageous” and that “it literally turns insurance companies loose on the public.”
The 10 states with the highest percentage of uninsured adults are all led by by Republicans. But of course, the GOP will maintain that the reason for this is the law itself, not it’s petty attempts to derail it at the expense of their constituents health. As long as they make it seem like the ACA is failing, the realities of why aren’t important to them.