One of the most contentious arguments in the renewed battle over "Obamacare" focuses on whether health insurance premiums are rising or falling because of the president's Affordable Care Act. The results are mixed, depending on many factors, but that hasn't kept Democrats and Republicans from attempting to make the results more clear and consistent than they really are.
President Obama and White House aides point to a report by the state of New York that premiums will drop by 50 percent in the Empire State when the law goes fully into effect. And the administration argues that, even though the results are uneven, the savings will be substantial elsewhere.
"In states that are working hard to make sure this law delivers for their people, what we're seeing is that consumers are getting a hint of how much money they're potentially going to save because of this law," Obama said. "In states like California, Oregon, Washington, new competition, new choices, market forces are pushing costs down."
Republicans dispute this. They argue that the New York report was issued by a Democratic administration and is flawed. The Republicans also point to reports from other states, such as Indiana and Ohio, that predict premium increases because of Obamacare.
A survey by the McClatchy news service finds that "experts predict that premiums on individual plans will increase in most states because of the new consumer protections the sweeping legislation requires. The impact on premiums will vary across states depending on geographic location, they type of coverage and the individual characteristics of the enrollee."
What all this shows is that the effect of the new law varies widely from state to state, and each citizen needs to study the options and decide what choices are best for him or her under the law's complicated provisions, which are gradually being phased in.
The two major parties are implacably opposed, largely for ideological reasons. Democrats such as President Obama argue that the federal government needed to reform the health care system, which was broken for millions of Americans. "There are still a lot of folks – in this town, at least – who are rooting for this law to fail," Obama said. "Some of them seem to think this law is about me. It's not."
Republicans say the government is already too powerful and inept, and it can't be trusted to intervene in something as important and complex as the health care system "Obamacare is a disaster," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a speech to the Senate. "Mr. President, the plan is already failing."
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Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.