Since its inception, critics of the Affordable Care Act—or Obamacare, as it is popularly known—have warned that the legislation will prove disastrous for the nation. From dire predictions of job losses in the millions, exploding premiums, a steep jump in the number of uninsured Americans, and a return to economic recession, the pessimistic prognostication from many of the current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls has been especially pronounced.
But as the country heads into the second full year under Obamacare, there has been scant evidence of many of the doom and gloom scenarios made by the law's staunchest critics.
For instance, the United States is currently in the midst of an employment boom, with a record 59 straight months of job creation, including the period that overlaps with Obamacare's 2014 start date. The number of uninsured Americans has plummeted as a result of the law, and an impressive 11.4 million Americans have now signed up for coverage. As a result, the rate in the rise of healthcare costs has slowed to a record low. To top things off, the nation's economy grew in 2014 at the fastest rate since the great recession.
On Thursday, a report by Bloomberg Business further challenged the notion that Obamacare presents an unsustainable burden on large and small businesses. Among the report's findings:
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—otherwise known as Obamacare—is putting such a small dent in the profits of U.S. companies that many refer to its impact as “not material” or “not significant,” according to a Bloomberg review of conference-call transcripts and interviews with major U.S. employers.
In addition to slowing the rise of healthcare costs, the report found that the cost of implementing Obamacare for many businesses was much more modest than many politicians had feared.
Here's a quick look back at some of the sternest warnings from some of the Republicans who are likely to run for president.
Before presenting a bill in 2013 to defund the Affordable Care Act, Senator Ted Cruz also warned that the law would sure send the country back into recession.
“It will hurt the economy, it will kill jobs, it will make life harder for Texans and for Americans all across our great country,” Cruz said during a town hall hosted by the conservative group Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
“Framing this conversation in terms of ensuring economic growth comes back and preventing a recession is critically important,” he continued, adding that the law needed to be repealed because “it cedes permanent massive control of health care to the federal government, which I think is fundamentally wrong. It puts federal government bureaucrats between each of us and our doctors. But it also would dramatically impact economic growth and push us into another recession.”
In a 2013 interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul raised the possibility that the legislation would force states into bankruptcy.
"I think that what's going to come out of Obamacare is worse than anybody can imagine. I think it will lead to bankruptcy in the states that are fully embracing it. I think it will lead to less people having an insurance as they find out the insurance is so much more expensive than their current plan," Paul argued. "Not only will they not have to be able to choose the same doctor that they had, they may not be able to afford the same insurance. The other thing that's going to happen is, maybe your employer says, for me to negotiate contracts it's cheaper for me to pay the penalty, which the penalty is pretty cheap compared with insurance. A lot of people have insurance currently may lose their insurance. So I think it's a disaster. Even its authors are saying it may not work, so I think we should delay the whole thing."
(Paul's forecast on Obamacare begins at the 2:17 mark)
In a 2013 interview with CNBC's Larry Kudlow, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker argued that Obamacare was hampering the economic recovery.
"They made a promise that nobody could actually deliver on, not just in terms of the website, but on the overall policy of Obamacare, which is an abysmal failure," Walker told Kudlow, adding, "It's not only a failure for Obamacare, it is continuing to be a wet blanket on the recovery of the nation's economy."
"Firm after firm telling the White House, the administration this isn't going to work," Walker went on. "It's either one of those things where there not listening to the facts, or they're not being informed, in either case, it's troubling."
"Troubling," Kudlow chimed in, "No CEO experience whatsoever."
Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina told Fox Business in 2013 that Obamacare should be replaced with something simpler.
"I just don't think we can afford to wreck one-sixth of the economy and what is arguably a very excellent healthcare system and see how it plays out," Fiorina said.
In his 2012 letter detailing his decision not to expand Medicaid in his state under Obamacare, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal argued that the worst consequences of the law were yet to come.
"The full extent of damage the PPACA causes to small businesses, the nation’s economy, and the American health care system will only be revealed with time. The State of Louisiana has no interest in being a party to this failure by implementing a state based exchange," Jindal wrote.
In a section of his letter titled "Impact on Employers and Employees," Jindal warned that the law would lead employers dump insurance plans, resulting in a big drop in the amount of Louisiana residents with coverage.
The employer mandate, a tax on employers with fifty or more employees who decide not to provide 'adequate' health insurance coverage to their employees, is a disincentive to provide coverage. Already, businesses are attempting to modify their business structure to avoid the law’s mandates (either by laying off employees or reducing the number of hours these employees work). Even those employers who provide coverage can be taxed anadditional $3,000 if that employee is eligible and enrolls in coverage on the health insurance Exchange. So instead of building upon the existing insurance market, the PPACA is undermining it.
In 2014, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham seized on a Congressional Budget Report that appeared to show that millions of Americans would lose their healthcare as employers seek to reduce the number of hours their employees work so as to make them ineligible to receive coverage.
The problem with that assessment, however, was that the CBO report showed it was employees who were cutting back on hours as a result of finally being able to afford healthcare coverage.