Politics
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WaPo Hit Tim Huelskamp For Claiming Obamacare Was Increasing Kansas Uninsured — But He Was Right

Washington Post “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler and other liberal pundits lambasted Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp earlier this year for claiming Obamacare had left more Kansans uninsured — but it turns out he was right.

Kessler awarded Huelskamp four ‘Pinocchios’ for claiming twice at town halls in his home state that it appeared that the number of uninsured Kansans was rising.

“It’s hard to get accurate numbers on anything,” Huelskamp said in April. “But the number we see today is that — as I understand them — we believe there are more people uninsured today in Kansas than there were before the president’s health-care plan went into effect.”

Kessler looked at new sign-ups on the federal exchange, assuming that at least some would be previously uninsured; assumed some new Medicaid sign-ups coming out of the woodwork, as Kansas didn’t expand the program; and ruled out plan cancellations because Kansas accepted the Obama administration’s extension for non-compliant plans.

His conclusion? “In other words, even that dog won’t hunt.”

Several months later, Huelskamp’s been proved right. According to a Gallup survey out Tuesday, Kansas had the highest jump in the uninsured population of any state — 5.1 percent. Just two other states, Iowa and Virginia, had their uninsured rate grow during the health-care law’s first year, and both by less than 1 percent. (RELATED: After Year One Of Obamacare, Kansas’ Uninsured Rate Is Up Five Percent) 

To his credit, Daily Kos blogger Charles Gaba, who’s become an authority on the left when it comes to Obamacare numbers, pondered Kansas’ surprising situation in a blog post Wednesday and concluded that “if the current Gallup survey is accurate, it appears that all three of us [Gaba, Kessler, and another Huelskamp critic] owe Rep. Huelskamp an apology.”

“I just can’t figure out how this could be the case,” Gaba admitted. He posited that it could be a net loss of employer-based coverage — but Kansas’ unemployment rate is lower than last year, so it can’t be attributed to employers losing jobs.

What’s not included in Gaba’s lengthy post on the issue: the rising cost of health coverage, for employers and for individuals.

It’s not at all clear yet what accounts for Kansas’ abrupt rise in the uninsured. But some studies cite rising premiums as a reason that Obamacare will eventually boost the number of uninsured, although they don’t expect it to occur for another several years.

If Kansas employers and workers are trading jobs with health coverage for ones without, it could be due to employers dropping coverage due to growing costs and new taxes (there are already reports of this happening).

According to a June Manhattan Institute analysis, premiums in Kansas’ individual insurance market got an enormous boost. In the year Obamacare went into effect, individual premiums grew on average 143 percent for 27 year-old males and 58 percent for 27 year-old women; and 97 percent for 40 year-old men and 41 percent for 40 year-old women.

Kansas’ hike in the uninsured rate may have been unexpected, Kessler and others may want to reconsider their arguments now that Huelskamp’s been vindicated.

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