Fact Check: RNC Ad Hits Obama for ‘Higher Costs’ on Health Care

Mar 20, 2012 3:01pm
ap barack obama jef 120319 wblog Fact Check: RNC Ad Hits Obama for Higher Costs on Health Care

(Image Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)

The Republican National Committee is hammering President Obama in a new TV ad over what it calls a “broken promise”  to bring down health care costs for families.

The ad, which can be viewed HERE, airs this week in the pivotal swing states of Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida, the RNC said.

The ad seems aimed at exploiting what a Kaiser Family Health Foundation poll revealed this month as the most widely cited negative perception of Obama’s health care law: increased costs overall.

The ad puts front and center Obama’s June 2008 promise made  in a speech in Raleigh, N.C., that “we will bring down premiums by $2,500 for the typical family” — a pledge he repeated at other points during the campaign.

Obama included  in his Raleigh remarks, though it’s not shown in the ad, that “we won’t just lower costs for families. We’ll lower costs for the entire country by making our health care system more efficient through better technology and more emphasis on prevention.

“That’s the choice in this election, and that’s the change I’ll bring as president,” Obama said at the time.

The RNC accurately notes that the “change” Obama promised on health care premiums has not yet come come about as his first term draws to a close.

Annual premiums for a family health plan rose 9 percent, or $1,300, last year, topping $15,000 for the first time ever, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust. The annual increase was triple the rise from 2010.

The study also found that up to 2 percent of the higher premiums were because of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, such as allowing parents to keep young adult children on their policies up to age 26.

The White House and Obama campaign have appealed for patience on the promised savings for families, insisting premium reductions under the new health  care law would be realized by 2019.

“A major driver in the increasing cost of premiums is the fact that health care costs are increasing rapidly.  And that was a lot of what the Affordable Care Act is designed to do — to slow the increases in those costs,” said Cecilia Rouse, Princeton University economics and public affairs professor and Obama campaign surrogate, on a conference call with reporters Monday.

“I don’t think that just because premiums have been increasing that’s evidence that it’s because of the ACA. It’s because of the very issues that the ACA is meant to address,” Rouse said.

The RNC ad also dings Obama on the burgeoning price tag of part of the law, citing an Associated Press report from earlier in the month  that  reported Obama’s 2013 budget increased by more than $100 billion the expected cost of subsidies for middle-income families to purchase health plans.

The 2012 budget had estimated cost of the provision at $367 billion over seven years, 2014-2021, while the administration’s latest budget forecasts the cost at $478 billion, according to the AP.

“Higher costs for patients, higher costs for taxpayers,” the RNC video says.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently revised downward the total estimated net cost of the law over 10 years, from $1.13 trillion to $1.083 trillion.  The CBO has also projected the law would yield around $200 billion in deficit reduction over the next decade, and said that repealing it would add costs to taxpayers over the same term.

Obama’s campaign aides insist immediate cost-saving measures for individuals included in the health law, and longer-term projections of lower costs overall, will win eventual support of voters.

“There’s 2.5 million young Americans who have insurance today and wouldn’t have it without the health care law. There are millions of senior citizens who have access to no-cost preventive care that they didn’t have before the Affordable Care Act.  There are millions of seniors receiving prescription drugs and paying hundreds of dollars less per year as a result of the Act,” said Obama for America policy director James Kvaal.

“Moreover there’s a number of reforms in the ACA that will shift the health care system in the long run toward delivering higher quality, more cost-effective care. The health care law, we think, we have an excellent story to tell about how this is going to improve both the quality and cost of the health care system we have.”

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll suggests Obama still faces a difficult sell.  By a 52 to 41 percent margin, Americans oppose the law overall; 67 percent think the Supreme Court should overturn it entirely or at least repeal the individual mandate.

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