White House scoffs at ObamaCare ‘doomsday prophecies’

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President Obama’s chief economist on Thursday delivered a fierce rebuttal to what he called “nonsensical” claims from conservatives that the Affordable Care Act would be the end of the U.S. economy.

“To put it mildly, these doomsday prophecies have not come to pass,” Jason Furman, the chief of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, said Thursday at a panel hosted by the Center for American Progress.

Five years after the law’s passage, Furman said the law did not become a “job killer” or a “budget buster,” and it did not create a “part-time economy.” Instead, he painted a picture of a healthcare industry — and an economy, in general — that has seen broad benefits from the law.

With the law’s recent five-year anniversary, the administration has taken a victory lap by pointing to data that shows a healthcare cost slowdown and a massive drop in the uninsured rate.

Still, Furman’s direct acknowledgment of the law’s critics also demonstrates that the White House still feels the need to defend the law.

He pointed out that the country’s overall healthcare spending, as well as the price per unit, has begun to level off for the first time in decades, which Furman called “remarkable.” He argued that the decrease in healthcare costs is not just the recession, refuting a common talking point from Republicans who oppose the law.

“We’ve been through all the explanations for this and we think they can’t add up to the magnitude of the slowdown,” he said.

The stabilization of healthcare costs in the last five years has been “confounding what everyone thought was a universal law for the economy“ — that healthcare costs are in an irreversible upward trend, he said.

Furman’s remarks, part of a 28-page report released by the White House on Thursday, offer new evidence for the administration’s long-standing campaign that ObamaCare is working.

Still, Furman stressed that the administration has more work to do.

“The Affordable Care Act gives us a lot of tools, but it’s not self-executing. We need to use it to continue to learn and to continue to innovate,” he said.

Furman also endorsed the recent GOP-led House bill to eliminate Medicare’s “doc fix” problem, also known as the sustainable growth rate (SGR), which will head to the Senate in mid-April.

“The SGR is going to offer us even more tools to expand the same types of new payment models that we put in place in the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “That’s why the president is looking forward to signing a good bill in this area.” 

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