In response to my column about Obamacare representing a government takeover of healthcare, the Huffington Post's Jeffrey Young (who I like in real life) offered a blistering critique, arguing, "you shouldn't believe the Washington Examiner, because it doesn't understand how numbers work." Actually, as I lay out clearly below, it's Young who is making an egregious mistake about numbers.

First, some background. As I noted in my column, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released new projections showing that the government-sponsored share of health spending would rise from the 40 percent it was in 2007 to 47 percent in 2024.

Young links back to an article he wrote in 2009 — before the passage of Obamacare — about CMS projections predicting that government healthcare spending was on track to cross the 50 percent threshold in 2016.

He goes on to emphasize, "That's right: In 2009, the Medicare and Medicaid actuaries predicted the government would own half of the nation's health care bill by 2016. Now, they're forecasting that the government share of health care spending will still be less than half nine years from now. In other words, the government is currently spending a smaller chunk of national health expenditures than these experts thought it would, even though millions more people now have health insurance."

"That's quite a government takeover!"

Young thinks he's caught me in an embarrassing error, but in reality, what he neglects to mention is that starting in 2011, CMS dramatically changed its methodology for categorizing healthcare spending. So he's actually comparing apples and oranges.

As long as we're linking to our old articles, I should link to this article I wrote at the American Spectator when the change was made, at which time I had an email exchange with Richard Foster, who at the time was the chief actuary for CMS.

He explained that as the healthcare system underwent changes, it was becoming trickier to sort out what should be considered government spending and what should be considered private. So CMS decided to change its system to what it determined was a cleaner approach, which shifted the definition from the entity that was paying for the medical care (for instance, an insurance company) to the entity that was financing it (for instance, who was paying the premiums).

Foster wrote to me, that, "when the health insurance exchange coverage takes effect in 2014, it will be available through private health insurance companies, but a substantial portion of the premiums will be paid by Federal subsidies. As the distinction between public versus private payers has become less clear, we've opted to focus more on the financing, which is more straightforward to classify and describe." (Click here for his more detailed explanation).

The dramatic quantitative impact of the shift can be identified by going back and looking at the CMS national health expenditure report released in 2010, which relied on the old methodology, and then comparing it to the one released in 2011, which began using the new one.

In Exhibit 4 of the March 2010 report, CMS said that the government share of 2008 national health expenditures was about $1.1 trillion, or 47.3 percent. But under the new methodology displayed in Exhibit 5 of the January 2011 report, government spending for 2008 represents $985 billion, or 41.2 percent. In other words, the methodological change created the appearance of a more than $100 billion reduction in government health spending estimates, even though in reality, the change was due to reclassifying certain expenditures.

So when I wrote about the change in the government's role from 2007 to 2024, I was actually making an apples to apples comparison. Young, in boasting that he had proved me "demonstrably, factually incorrect," was not.