President Obama's chief spokesman said Monday that fewer people have signed up for Obamacare than predicted at this point, a few years into its implementation, because private companies did not shed employer-sponsored plans at the predicated rate, not because there are any problems related to Obamacare.
"It's important to understand the context in which the [Congressional Budget Office] was putting forward these estimates about the number of people who would sign up on the marketplaces," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Monday.
CBO assumed companies "would essentially kick employees off and make them go to the exchange," Earnest said. "The truth is that has not happened nearly as much as our critics predicted," which is another example of the "worst predictions about Obamacare not coming true."
Earnest was reacting to a string of bad news about the fate of the law, including that fewer people overall have signed up and many of those who have are older and costlier than the healthy people Obama banked on joining. Additionally, major insurers have pulled out, including giant Aetna, and premiums are rapidly rising in some states.
"If you're Aetna, you have seen your stock prices double" since the marketplace opened, Earnest maintained. He said he would "let Aetna explain their struggles" with making it work for the company, even though "plenty of other insurance companies have figured it out," he said.
"The vast majority of people all across the country will have access to a plan that costs $75 a month or less, and these are plans that are quality plans," he maintained.
Earnest also argued that Republican governors who opted not to expand Medicaid under the ACA are driving up prices.
"Too many Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid for political reasons, even though the federal government shoulders "the vast majority of the expense," he said. He noted a study showing that premiums increased 7 percent more in states without expanded Medicaid than in those with it.
"That's had a bad impact on the healthcare situation for a lot of people across the country," Earnest said.
"Again, this is the classic situation where people that don't have health insurance don't have access to it because a decision made by Republican governors that ultimately other people that do have insurance have to pay the tab" because of their poor policy decisions, he said.