McConnell continues attack on Obamacare as Washington Post gives him ‘four Pinocchios’ for misleading article in C-J

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell took the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as an opportunity to repeat his criticism of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“Regardless of the administration’s public explanation for
the secretary’s exit, Obamacare has been a rolling disaster and her
resignation is cold comfort to the millions of Americans who were
deceived about what it would mean for them and their families,” McConnell said in a press release. “Countless
Americans have unexpectedly been forced out of the plans they had and
liked, are now shouldering dramatically higher premiums, and can no
longer use the doctors and hospitals they choose. Beyond that, virtually
everyone who has come into contact with this law has had new reason to
worry about what it means for the government to control their health
care.”

McConnell has been perhaps the leading critic of the law, which led New Yorker magazine cartoonist Barry Blitt to make him the focal point of his artwork on this week’s cover, which shows President Obama administering medicine to McConnell as House Speaker John Boehner moves on and Rep. Michelle Bachman and Sen. Ted Cruz await their spoonful. For Blitt’s brief explanation of his work, click here.

The point of the cartoon is that despite criticism and a troubled national rollout, the administration exceeded its goal of 7 million people signing up for Obamacare by the original March 31 deadline. In Kentucky, enrollment on the Kynect exchange is now more than 402,000, with several thousand more having been determined eligible for a subsidy to buy private insurance. In an April 10 press release, the state said 79,580 people have bought private policies and 322,827 have qualified for coverage under the federal-state Medicaid program.

McConnell bases part of his criticism on the state’s initial report that 285,000 people “might be affected if they had substandard plans,” The Courier-Journal said in an editorial. “A month later—in December 2013—Kentucky revised the figure to 168,000 and the [Washington] Post said the number could be as low as 100,000.” The Post’s Glenn Kessler, in his Fact Checker column, recently gave McConnell the maximum “four Pinocchios” for a misleading op-ed piece in the Louisville newspaper attacking the reform law.

The senator wrote, “Only approximately 64,000 Kentuckians enrolling in Obamacare have
enrolled in a private plan in Kentucky’s own Obamacare exchange, far
fewer than the 280,000 who received cancellation notices of plans they
had and liked.” Kessler says that number is nowhere near correct.

Kessler writes that the 64,000 number (now up to almost 80,000; see above) “can be related only to the 130,000 individual plan policies. Adding in small-group policies inflates the total. . . . When the state made the announcement, it did not know how many plans
might actually comply with the law; it just described the size of the
individual and small-group markets.” Also, he notes, not all the cancellation notices are going out at once: “We have no idea what the flow would be, but just taking a simple average
over 12 months yields 11,000 individual policies a month. That adds up
to only 55,000 individual policies since November, yet McConnell assumed
that all of the notices had been mailed and received.”

Finally, Kessler writes, “The 280,000 figure is out of date. In December, the state said it had
determined that more than 48,000 plans were grandfathered in under ACA
and that nearly 64,000 qualified for transitional relief under an administrative fix
announced by the Obama administration. (The state did not distinguish
between individual and small-group plans in its announcement, but
overall that’s a 40 percent reduction.) That brought the total down to 168,000, a figure that was reported.” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said the fundamental point of the letter, that Democrats were touting Obamacare’s successes and ignoring its pitfalls, was still correct.

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