onsidering the Obama administration’s failure to keep its promise — made by the President in public speeches at least 36 times — that “if you like your plan, you can keep it,” there should be little surprise that other claims offered by Obamacare’s Kool-Aid drinkers to sell this big-government health care program also are bogus.
For instance, President Obama and fellow supporters of the Affordable Care Act repeatedly asserted that the strain on hospitals would be relieved as there would be fewer expensive emergency room visits.
“What about those parents whose kids have a chronic illness like asthma and have to keep on going back to the emergency room because they don’t have a regular doctor, and the bills never stop coming?” Obama asked a crowd during a speech in Maryland.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, Obama’s political soulmate in Frankfort, made similar claims during his State of the Commonwealth speech to a joint General Assembly session in January.
Beshear claimed that the success of the commonwealth’s version of Obamacare – known as the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange — “means that our friends and neighbors … can be treated in an appropriate setting — not in an emergency room, the most expensive place to get care.”
Yet, a new poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians indicates that emergency-room visits are rising.
A whopping 75 percent of the 2,099 physicians nationwide reported that the number of emergency room patients has increased since Obamacare went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014 — with 28 percent claiming the number of ER patients had “increased greatly.”
Ryan Stanton, an ER physician at Baptist Health Lexington, told The Wall Street Journal that ER visits had gone up 20 percent during the first few months of 2015 compared with 10 percent last year – when the law widely expanded coverage.
Adam Ogle, director of emergency service at Baptist Health Paducah, told the Paducah Sun that emergency room visits to his facility were up by more than 6 percent in 2014 over 2013 and already have grown by 5 percent this year, compared to the same period last year.
Even as Obamacare was being shoved down Americans’ IV tubes, we had to hope that the previously uninsured who now had coverage would be able to seek conventional treatment, thus relieving the pressure on emergency rooms, to which a visit by a patient needing primary — rather than emergency — care costs $580 more per visit, according to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report in 2013.
Dr. Stanton points to a huge increase in volume, which was bound to happen due to the fact that a whopping majority of the formerly uninsured who now are covered receive coverage through taxpayer-funded Medicaid rather than a private plan they pay for.
Considering a shortage of primary care physicians who would accept Medicaid patients existed before Obamacare, where did the geniuses who created this health-care boondoggle think the newly covered would go when they needed care that couldn’t wait for months until a physician could see them at the office?
To the ER, of course, which won’t turn them away.
Obamacare supporters will try to pooh-pooh this survey, claiming it’s anecdotal.
Yet while it may not be absolutely conclusive, it’s a realistic view of what’s happening on the ground rather than the rosy rhetoric offered on the campaign trail.
Plus, plenty of rigorous data — again available even before Obamacare was implemented — showed that expanding Medicaid increases the strain on emergency rooms.
Since the Obama and Beshear administrations didn’t have a solution for that problem, they chose to simply ignore it and act like Kentucky and the nation has cured its crisis of uninsured citizens.
They’re still failing to treat this condition.
But if you leave an infection untreated, won’t it only grow worse?
(Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at email@example.com. Read previously published columns at www.freedomkentucky.org/bluegrassbeacon.)