EDITORIAL: Unhealthy news on Obamacare

March was a very bad month for defenders of the Affordable Care Act.

A video surfaced showing Chelsea Clinton deriding the “crushing costs” of Obamacare, and claiming that, if her mother was elected, Hillary Clinton would be open to using executive action to make the so-called Affordable Care Act more affordable.

It’s refreshing to hear such honesty on the campaign trail about the disaster that is the Affordable Care Act. Better still, we’re hearing it from the daughter of the Democratic front-runner. But as Robert Moffit of The Daily Signal recently explained, Obamacare hasn’t just made health insurance crushingly expensive, as Chelsea Clinton charges, but all of health care. Mr. Moffit cites Congressional Budget Office reports that show how, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, public spending is far outpacing private spending.

According to the CBO, the federal government spent 13 percent more on health programs in 2015 than it did in 2014. Medicaid spending jumped by almost 7 percent in 2015 — the fastest growth since 2007 — and Medicaid spending alone rose by 32 percent. Mr. Moffit also cites data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid that shows a rise in the total per capita health insurance spending from $7,786 next year to $11,681 in 2024.

Many small business owners say the cost of health insurance is the biggest problem associated with running their business, and as Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com points out, Obamacare was supposed to provide tax incentives that would help businesses reduce those costs. But as Mr. Moffit explains, CBO data shows that, like other health-related costs, employer-based health insurance costs will also continue to rise, with job-based premiums slated to jump by nearly 60 percent by 2025. One of the problems, says the National Federation of Independent Businesses, is that it is exceedingly complicated, time-consuming and costly for small business owners to verify their eligibility and claim the tax credit. Even if they do go through the hassle and expense, says the NFIB, the tax credit is “exceedingly restrictive, complicated, and only offers limited and temporary relief.”

With all of the Affordable Care Act’s negative momentum, it’s not surprising that the CBO has again revised its Obamacare enrollment predictions. Roughly 12 million people are now expected to have coverage by the end of the year, 1 million fewer than was predicted just three months ago and nine million fewer than were predicted just last year. There has also been a considerable number of people who sign up for coverage at the beginning of the year, only to drop out at some point during the year. In 2015, that was a whopping 25 percent drop-off, according to a report from The Hill. If that happens again this year, enrollment will fall below 10 million — less than half the 21 million projected for 2016 by the CBO just one year ago.

As we’ve said too many times to count now, government has no business being in the health care business. ACA premiums continue to rise — along with the premiums of everyone with employer-based plans — and coupled with the monstrous deductibles, people can’t afford to actually use their “affordable” insurance. Chelsea Clinton bringing these problems to the forefront is helpful, but her mother’s solutions aren’t. Rather, reduced coverage mandates and an end to the tax penalties, along with market-based reforms that emphasize incentives over coercion, are the answer to Obamacare’s crushing costs.

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