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News Opinion Readers Respond

Obamacare won't wreck the economy, but partisan warfare will

Columnist Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s contention that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will eliminate jobs and increase costs stands upon faulty factual ground ("Lost jobs, higher costs: Obamacare hits home," May 26).

While the Congressional Budget Office has said that individual premiums will likely increase between 10 percent and 13 percent under Obamacare, it also reports that federal subsidies would push costs well below what they would have been charged without Obamacare, with 80 percent of the 25 million people joining insurance exchanges by 2023 receiving subsidies.

California, which has the fourth-highest percentage of residents without health insurance, recently released details about its health insurance exchange. In stark contrast to Obamacare naysayers, premiums there will range from 2 percent more to as much as 29 percent less than what comparable plans cost this year.

Under Obamacare, it's ultimately up to the state of Maryland whether to allow insurance providers like Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield to increase their premiums by 25 percent.

Too frequently, politicians and pundits fail to properly vet the origin of their data, just as Mr. Ehrlich does do in failing to mention that the study he cites that indicated premium increases for small businesses was conducted the giant for-profit managed care firm, WellPoint.

But let's stick to the facts: The law exempts small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees from fines, while providing tax credits to small businesses with fewer than 25 full-time workers to help them buy coverage if they choose. It's worth noting that 96 percent of all firms in the U.S. have fewer than 50 employees. Talent retention will force larger employers that opt out to make many employees whole through increased benefits and salary while still reducing their costs, according to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company.

Then there's the 800,000 fewer U.S. workers in 2020 Mr. Ehrlich mourns the loss of. This statistic is again fraught with deception. The same CBO report he cites states that the legislation will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy "primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply." The report doesn't say that Obamacare will kill 800,000 jobs, but rather that the corresponding increase in beneficiaries' financial resources will lead people to choose to work less, freeing jobs for those who do want to work.

Most troubling is Mr. Ehrlich's failure to mention the millions of previously uninsured Americans who will now be recipients of health insurance due to Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act is law and has survived dozens of challenges in Congress as well one in the Supreme Court.

It's time for members of Congress to move on and get back to the business they were elected to conduct.

Ross Gothelf, Owings Mills

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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