Bizzaro World Right-Wing Health-Care Attack: Obamacare Not Universal

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Conservatives and Tea Partiers are now complaining the president's private-sector oriented health-care overhaul didn't go far enough.

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Updated 11:46 a.m. 8/18
File the above under least probable emails of 2010. But it's not 2010, anymore. It's 2012, and that means conservatives and Republicans are casting about for fresh critiques of the Obama administration, no matter how incongruent with past approaches they may seem. The latest novel critique: Obamacare was too small! Or at least, too small to cost as much as it is projected to.

The argument that Obamacare provides an inadequate decrease in the uninsured a decade out has been floating around for a while in conservative media. An earlier version of the story on CNSNews.com, "Obamacare Will Leave 30 Million Uninsured" asserted:

Currently, according to CBO, there are 53 million uninsured persons in the United States, including uninsured illegal aliens. The CBO estimates that in 2022 -- 8 years after the Affordable Care Act has been fully implemented -- 30 million people will remain uninsured .... despite all the new government regulations and bureaucracies, taxes and subsidies created by Obamacare ....

A Townhall.com version of the story, "ObamaCare Will Leave 30 Million Without Health Insurance," quoted from the late-July Congressional Budget Office report that set off the critique:

"CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] 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 report said.

What the articles fail to mention is that this CBO report was issued to examine the impact of Republican-led states rejecting the Medicaid expansion component of the president's Affordable Care Act in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that states could do so without penalty. Coverage would go down under this scenario, because many people Obamacare was written to cover under the Medicaid expansion would remain uninsured. All of which is to say that after the GOP-led court challenge to the ACA, GOP states could gut one of its central provisions.

The fact that the ACA won't cover everyone under that scenario has now become the latest conservative argument to get rid of it. Even with the opt-outs, the bill would provide an additional 29 to 30 million people with insurance by the end of the decade, according to the CBO report. But as an item in Liberty News complained earlier this month, even with the program "people will still be without health insurance. Heckuva job, Barry."

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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