U.S. Chamber Of Commerce: “Alan Grayson Supported Anti-Business Policies In Washington”

In an ad attacking former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) for supporting the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce resorts to the dishonest claim that the law will knock 20 million people off their current health care coverage. The Chamber ad also cited Florida U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson’s ruling against the law, which legal scholars considered problematic even before the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act in June.

Chamber Distorts CBO Expectations To Fearmonger On Lost Coverage

Up To 30 Million People Are Expected To Gain Coverage Through The Affordable Care Act. From the Congressional Budget Office: “CBO and JCT now estimate that the ACA, in comparison with prior law before the enactment of the ACA, will reduce the number of nonelderly people without health insurance coverage by 14 million in 2014 and by 29 million or 30 million in the latter part of the coming decade, leaving 30 million nonelderly residents uninsured by the end of the period. … The share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance is projected to rise from 82 percent in 2012 to 92 percent by 2022. According to the current estimates, from 2016 on, between 23 million and 25 million people will receive coverage through the exchanges, and 10 million to 11 million additional people will be enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP as a result of the ACA. Between 4 million and 6 million fewer people are estimated to have coverage through an employer, compared with coverage in the absence of the ACA. That number did not change significantly as a result of the Court’s decision.” [CBO.gov, July 2012]

Affordable Care Act Projected To Cause Small Reduction In Employer-Based Coverage, But Could Also Increase Such Coverage. From the Congressional Budget Office: “CBO and JCT continue to expect that the ACA will lead to a small reduction in employment-based health insurance. […] In CBO and JCT’s judgment, a sharp decline in employment-based health insurance as a result of the ACA is unlikely and, if it occurred, would not dramatically increase the cost of the ACA. […] As reflected in CBO’s latest baseline projections, the two agencies now anticipate that, because of the ACA, about 3 million to 5 million fewer people, on net, will obtain coverage through their employer each year from 2019 through 2022 than would have been the case under prior law. […] In the four alternative scenarios examined, the ACA changes the number of people who will obtain health insurance coverage through their employer in 2019 by an amount that ranges from a reduction of 20 million to a gain of 3 million relative to what would have occurred otherwise. According to the CBO’s July update, the number of people expected to lose employer-based coverage “did not change significantly,” and is now estimated at between “4 million and 6 million fewer people.” [CBO.gov, 3/15/12; CBO.gov, July 2012]

“Law Could Just As Well Increase” Workplace Coverage By 3 Million; 20 Million Figure Is Worst-Case Scenario. From The Hill‘s report on the same March 15 CBO report cited by the Chamber: “As many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer-provided coverage because of President Obama’s healthcare reform law, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a new report Thursday. The figure represents the worst-case scenario, CBO says, and the law could just as well increase the number of people with employer-based coverage by 3 million in 2019.  The best estimate, subject to a ‘tremendous amount of uncertainty,’ is that about 3 million to 5 million fewer people will obtain coverage through their employer each year from 2019 through 2022.” [The Hill, 3/15/12]

CBO: Other Analyses Consistent With Our Best-Guess Scenario. From the CBO report cited by the Chamber: “Other analysts who have carefully modeled the nation’s existing health insurance system and the changes in incentives for employers to offer insurance coverage created by the ACA have reached conclusions similar to those of CBO and JCT or have predicted smaller declines (or even gains) in employment-based coverage owing to the law. Surveys of employers regarding their plans for offering health insurance coverage in the future have uncertain value and offer conflicting findings.” [CBO.gov, 3/15/12]

CBO: Similar Massachusetts Reforms Have Led To Increase In Employer-Provided Coverage. From the CBO report cited by the Chamber: “One piece of evidence that may be relevant is the experience in Massachusetts, where employment-based health insurance coverage appears to have increased since that state’s reforms, which are similar but not identical to those in the ACA, were implemented.” [CBO.gov, 3/15/12]

Plans In The Insurance Market Are Already Unstable, Causing Eroding Coverage And Higher Premiums. According to Time: “Still, while many employer-based plans will be snared in the regulatory net of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, many of those with this coverage could actually stand to benefit. The new regulations, after all, are designed to protect consumers. If job-based plans have to change — and are not dropped by employers — they will do so in ways that limit what workers have to pay out of pocket and what insurers can refuse to cover. […] Plus, it’s not as though the employer-based insurance market is reliable and stable in its current form. Most employees don’t have any control over the structure of their health insurance. As a result, coverage has been steadily eroding in the past decade, with premium costs for workers increasing 131% from 1999 to 2009, even as the actuarial value of those plans, on average, decreased.” [Time, 6/24/10]

Chamber Relies On Discredited Decision By Florida Judge

The ad’s statement that “a Florida judge ruled parts of Obamacare unconstitutional” refers to the decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, who ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional and the entire law must be invalidated as a result. While legal scholars took issue with Vinson’s ruling at the time, the Supreme Court delivered final judgment on the law in June, upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate.

Supreme Court: The Individual Mandate Is Constitutional. According to the New York Times: “The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld President Obama’s health care overhaul law, saying its requirement that most Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty was authorized by Congress’s power to levy taxes. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s four more liberal members.” [New York Times, 6/28/12]

Yale Constitutional Law Professor: Judge Vinson’s Opinion Looks Like “Something Other Than The Dispassionate Application Of The Rule Of Law.” According to Jack Balkin, the Knight Professor Of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale: “It is hard to see Judge Vinson’s opinion on the question of severability as entirely unaffected by partisan considerations, just as it is hard to reach the same conclusion about the 5-4 decision on the remedy in Bush v. Gore. When a judge informs you that a particular decision is unique, and unlikely ever to be repeated again–a ticket good for this day only–one begins to suspect that something other than the dispassionate application of the rule of law is going on. And of course, there is a remarkable congruence between what the Republican Party wants and what Judge Vinson has done (not to mention what the conservative majority did in Bush v. Gore). The Republican Party does not want to excise the individual mandate but keep the most popular features of the ACA; it wants to get rid of the entire statute. This is something that Judge Hudson, who also declared the individual mandate unconstitutional in Virginia v. Sebelius, was unwilling to provide. In these ‘unique’ circumstances, however, Judge Vinson was happy to be of service.” [Balkin Blog Post on Balkin.blogspot.com, 1/31/11, emphasis added]

  • Libertarian Legal Scholar: “Judge Vinson’s Argument … Is Not Persuasive.” According to George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr, a self-described libertarian: “I think Judge Vinson’s argument on the Necessary and Proper Clause is not persuasive. […] Judge Vinson is reasoning that existing law must be a particular way because he thinks it should be that way as a matter of first principles, not because the relevant Supreme Court doctrine actually points that way. […]Judge Vinson says that this cannot be the law because it would make the federal government too powerful. But Judge Vinson does not consult existing doctrine before declaring the principle, and that’s the problem: If you take existing doctrine seriously, it readily fits the mandate under the Necessary and Proper clause.” [Volokh.com 1/31/11; Volokh.com, 9/19/11]

Florida Federal Judge’s Decision Was Partially Overturned By Appeals Court. CNN reported: “Wednesday’s first argument dealt with severability, but most court watchers think of it as the ‘domino effect’ issue — if the individual mandate section is ruled unconstitutional, must the entire law collapse as well? A federal judge in Florida had so ruled in February 2011, saying: ‘Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire act must be declared void.’ However, a federal appeals court subsequently overruled on the severability question while upholding the individual mandate’s unconstitutionality.” [CNN.com, 3/28/12]

Repeal Would Have Negative Consequences For Millions

Up To 6.6 Million Young Adults Would Lose Health Care Coverage Through Their Parents’ Plans. From the Los Angeles Times: “President Obama’s healthcare law helped as many as 6.6 million young adults stay on or get on their parents’ health plans in the first year and a half after the law was signed, a new survey indicates. […] Earlier surveys by the federal government found that the number of people ages 19 to 25 without insurance declined after the law was signed, reversing years of erosion in health coverage for young adults.” [Los Angeles Times6/8/12]

70,000 Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions Would Lose Insurance Coverage. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, as of May 31, 2012, 73,333 people were enrolled in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) created by the Affordable Care Act. [HealthCare.gov, 7/13/12]

5.2 Million People Would Have To Pay More For Prescription Drugs. From the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid: “As a result of the Affordable Care Act, over 5.2 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved over $3.9 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also released data today showing that in the first half of 2012, over 1 million people with Medicare saved a total of $687 million on prescription drugs in ‘donut hole’ coverage gap for an average of $629 in savings this year. […] Coverage for both brand name and generic drugs in the gap will continue to increase over time until 2020, when the coverage gap will be closed.” [CMS.gov, 7/25/12]

Over 35 Million Seniors Would Lose Access To Free Preventive Services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS] report that 35,106,598 people were enrolled in Medicare Part B in 2011. CMS also reports:

Beginning January 1, 2011, the Affordable Care Act eliminated Part B coinsurance and deductibles for recommended preventive services, including many cancer screenings and key immunizations. The law also added an important new service — an Annual Wellness Visit with a health professional — at no cost to beneficiaries.

According to preliminary numbers, at least 25,720,996 million Americans took advantage of at least one free preventive benefit in Medicare in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit.  This represents 73.3% of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, including 2,404,792 African-American beneficiaries, 537,110 Hispanic beneficiaries, 104,393 American Indian beneficiaries, and 508,398 Asian-American beneficiaries. [CMS.gov, 2/15/12]

Repeal Would Add More Than $100 Billion To The Debt

CBO: Repealing ACA Would Add $109 Billion To Deficit Between 2013 And 2022. From a letter the Congressional Budget Office sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): “H.R. 6079 would repeal the ACA, with the exception of one subsection that has no budgetary effect. […]Assuming that H.R. 6079 is enacted near the beginning of fiscal year 2013, CBO and JCT estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting that legislation would cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013–2022 period.” [CBO.gov, 7/24/12]

Health Insurers Poured Money Into Chamber To Attack Reform

Health Insurance Industry Gave Chamber Over $100 Million To Fight Health Care Reform. From the National Journal: “The nation’s leading health insurance industry group gave more than $100 million to help fuel the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2009 and 2010 efforts to defeat President Obama’s signature health care reform law, National Journal’s Influence Alley has learned. During the final push to kill the bill before its March 2010 passage, America’s Health Insurance Plans gave the chamber $16.2 million. With the $86.2 million the insurers funneled to the business lobbying powerhouse in 2009, AHIP sent the chamber a total of $102.4 million during the health care reform debate, a number that has not been reported before now. The backchannel spending allowed insurers to publicly stake out a pro-reform position while privately funding the leading anti-reform lobbying group in Washington. The chamber spent tens of millions of dollars bankrolling efforts to kill health care reform.” [NationalJournal.com, 6/13/12]

[NARRATOR:] Reckless politicians gave us Obamacare. Alan Grayson was one of Obamacare’s biggest cheerleaders. He’d say anything. [GRAYSON:] “Die quickly. The Republicans want you to die quickly.” [NARRATOR:] Now we learn Obamacare could cause 20 million people to lose their current coverage and a Florida judge ruled parts of Obamacare unconstitutional. Will Alan Grayson change his tune on Obamacare or be the same broken record? [GRAYSON:] “The Republicans want you to die quickly.” [NARRATOR:] Tell Alan Grayson to support the repeal of Obamacare. [U.S. Chamber of Commerce via YouTube, 5/8/12]