For years now, conservative politicians and right-wing activists have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since the law passed, conservatives have pressed two lawsuits ultimately thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court (and a third in the works), over 50 political votes to repeal the law, and near constant overheated rhetoric aimed at fooling the public into opposing what has been an unquestionable advance in ensuring everyone has access to quality, affordable health care that can never be taken away.
As is always the case with right-wing fear-mongering, time and facts aren’t on their side (remember “death panels?”). And this week, two more of their favorite go-to canards have been discredited by their greatest enemy: reality.
Myth 1: Obamacare will cause doctor shortages
Conservative pundits and politicians alike have painted a grim public picture of looming doctor shortages. Now, a new study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Commonwealth Fund examining the impact of the ACA on primary care physicians has debunked this claim.
According to the study, the vast majority of primary care physicians (79%) reported that despite the increase in patients, Obamacare has improved their ability to provide high quality patient care, or had no damaging effect.
From the Kaiser/Commonwealth study:
As the chart above shows, most primary-care physicians (59%) said their ability to provide high-quality care to all their patients had stayed about the same since the ACA went into effect, with equal shares (20%) saying it had improved and had gotten worse. Even among physicians most affected by the coverage expansions–primary-care physicians accepting Medicaid and working in states that expanded the program, and those working in community clinics–most said their ability to provide quality care had stayed about the same, with about one in five saying it had gotten better and a similar share saying it was worse. Results were similar when we asked physicians about patient satisfaction and experiences with care: Most said things had not changed under the ACA.
Myth 2: Obamacare will stifle job creation
Starting in 2015, a major feature of Obamacare kicked in - the so-called employer mandate. This rule ensures that employers with 50 or more employees provide health insurance to all employees working 30 or more hours a week, or “full time.” These businesses are not what you’d call “mom and pop” companies, and before the ACA, much of the cost associated with uninsured workers came directly out of the pockets of taxpayers. From the beginning, conservatives gleefully predicted that employers would simply choose to pay the penalty or reduce employee hours below the 30 hour threshold in order to avoid extending health coverage to their full-time employees.
Earlier this week, results released from the 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Education Trust survey show that, once again, the doom and gloom predictions from conservatives have not come to pass.
From the CNN Money:
Only 4% of employers with at least 50 full-time workers said they shifted some staffers from full-time to part-time schedules so that they wouldn't qualify for health care. And another 4% said they were reducing the number of full-time employees they planned to hire because of the cost of health benefits.
What’s more striking in the report is that not only have few employers actually cut employee hours to avoid offering them health care, but that more employers moved to ensure their employees DID qualify for health coverage.
On the flip side, 10% of those with at least 50 employees reported they were changing workers from part-time to full-time status to enable them to obtain coverage. This may apply to staffers who worked more than 30 hours, but whom the employer didn't consider full-time until the Obamacare mandate kicked in, said Gary Claxton, the study's lead author.
As the successes of Obamacare continue piling up, don’t expect conservatives to call off the dogs just yet. We’re already in another hotly contested 2016 election season, and the right-wing will no doubt be ratcheting up their anti-Obamacare rhetoric in an effort to rile up conservative voters (Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson still wants gut the health care law). But unlike 4 years ago, this time around far-right conservatives are the only ones still listening.
Take action today by adding your name here telling politicians “The ACA Is Here To Stay!”