Politicians and health care professionals in the USA have joined forces to attack the basic statistical premise of Barak Obama’s health reforms.
According to the US President, some 129 million people (half under 65) could be denied access to medical insurance because they have pre-existing conditions. The Obama health care reforms sought to address this.
However this and other figures that the US Health and Human Services Department have released have been attacked as being over estimates. They point to the fact that most people are covered by health insurance schemes they receive as part of their workplace remuneration schemes. In other words, those who take a job which offers health insurance cover are protected by laws enacted in the 1990s.
Economist Paul Ginsburg, president of the Centre for Studying Health System Change said: “It’s a hypothetical situation, not an actual situation. Most of these people don’t have a problem, with or without health reform, because they get their coverage through their employment, and employer coverage takes everybody.”
Republicans are currently trying to push through amendments to Obama’s health care reforms. The disputed figure produced by the US Health and Human Services Department was published a short time before the debate, so presumably it was politically motivated to embarrass opponents of the reforms.
This, however, may cause a backlash, especially since the attack also comes from the non partisan Centre for Studying Health System Change.
The debate over these figures is likely to be the main issue. Obama stands by the statistics, but it may be something that will come back to haunt him.