Lachlan Markay: Obamacare Failing to Enroll Uninsured Americans

WFB reporter: Obamacare medicaid expansion only extended coverage to 200,000 new people

• January 20, 2014 5:19 pm


Reporter for the Washington Free Beacon Lachlan Markay discussed the implications of recent reports suggesting the Obamacare exchanges are failing to enroll significant numbers of uninsured Americans Monday on Fox News.

Markay cited Real Clear Politics Election Analyst Sean Trende's research which indicates Obamacare's state medicaid expansions have effectively extended coverage to only an estimated 200,000 people, well below the administration's 4 million talking point:

There were two major problems with the administration’s numbers. First, of the 4 million new enrollees, more than half of were in states that did not even undertake the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. So we can be pretty comfortable that the number of enrollees due to the ACA is no more than 1.9 million, using the data provided by the administration. (There are probably some previously eligible folk who decided to apply after hearing about the expansion, but their number is likely relatively small.)

The second issue is that of those 1.9 million, some would have enrolled (or re-enrolled) in the program under the pre-expansion rules. Every state had a Medicaid program in place prior to the expansion, although the eligibility level varied widely from state to state, and therefore would have signed up people in the program absent the new funding. Looking at the changes in the application rates between states that undertook the expansion and those that did not, I estimated that around 200,000 of those applicants were newly eligible under the Medicaid expansion.

Moreover, Markay also criticized the White House for trumpeting the Affordable Care Act as a cure-all for uninsured Americans.

Even if one accepts the administration's quoted number of 48 million uninsured Americans, Markay said, the ACA fully implemented will still leave approximately 20 to 25 million people without health insurance.

Full exchange:

NEIL CAVUTO: […] Let's get the read from you Lachlan on how bad this is, because the numbers are a lot worse than we're lead to believe. These aren't new enrollees, these are mostly exisint coverage enrollees swapping to different overage.

LACHLAN MARKAY: Right. The administration of course is going to play up the number that look best for them. They're going to try to make it seem as if as maybe people as they can have signed up for insurance, but as you say, this sort of makes clear that it's not as much of a rush to the exchanges and to the expanded medicaid program as we're lead to believe, and we're seeing similar sort of games with numbers in medicaid as well, we see the administration sort of touting this four million signups number, the actual number as result of the expansion is probably only about 200,000. So —

NEIL CAVUTO: Wait, wait, wait. How do we get from four million, their figure to the 200,000, that's your figure?

MARKAY: Sure. This is actually and calculations that Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics did, was was some very impressive wonkery. What he essentially said was well, you have to only look at the states where medicaid is actually being expanded. So you go from about four million down to 1.9 million, and when you look at the scale of the expansion, we're really only talking about 200,000 people give or take.


CAVUTO: […] Another number I see bandied about, Lachlan, you might know more about this than I, this argument that we had 48 million uninsured – not 30 million. But by making that number bigger you can then say, well, we brought that number down when in fact — I don't know how we upped it from 30 to 48 million in the first place.

MARKAY: Yeah, that was going all the way back to the initial healthcare debate in 2009-2010. It was always sort of a point of contention who should qualify there, who should not. I'm not sure if the administration is playing with that number as much, but in any case there's going to be a very large number of people who continue to be uninsured even if the law is implemented exactly as planned. You're still talking maybe 20-25 million. So just from the perspective of the administration's own central objective, it seems to not quite go as far as we were led to believe.

Full segment:

Published under: Obamacare, Obamacare Exchanges