Here at the Manhattan Contrarian, we don't make a lot of predictions. But we veered from that path with a few Official Manhattan Contrarian Predictions at the end of last year. This was the first one:
I predict that the number of "uninsured" in the U.S. will increase as Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014.
Now in my humble opinion, this subject is important. It is important because the whole raison d'etre for Obamacare and the transformation of a sixth of the economy into government vassals, the basis for the endless drumbeat that we listened to thousands of times over the preceding decades, was the so-called "crisis" of the uninsured. As the supposedly disinterested but actually revolting pro-government-growth-partisan Institute of Medicine put it in their February 2009 study titled "America's Uninsured Crisis: Consequences for Health and Health Care":
The growing number of uninsured Americans--totaling 45.7 million as of 2007--is taking a toll on the nation's health. One in five adults under age 65 and nearly one in ten children are uninsured. Uninsured individuals experience much more risk to their health than insured individuals. In its 2009 report America's Uninsured Crisis: Consequences for Health and Health Care, the Institute of Medicine points to a chasm between the health care needs of people without health insurance and access to effective health care services. This gap results in needless illness, suffering, and even death.
We're now through the initial sign-up period that ended March 31. We know that at least 4.7 million Americans had their health insurance cancelled due to Obamacare rules. We know that the President has claimed that some 7 million people have signed up under the Obamacare exchanges. But of course the 7 million include many who were previously insured and many who had their policies canceled. So government, has the number of "uninsured" gone up or down?
Well, in the past couple of days we have found out that they are not going to tell us. And they are not going to tell us because the White House has directed a change in the methodology by which the Census Bureau counts the uninsured so as to make the new data report smaller numbers of uninsured which numbers however are not comparable to the old numbers.
The story was first reported by Robert Pear in the New York Times on April 15.
[T]he new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable, the officials said. An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a “total revision to health insurance questions” and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.
The Pear article makes it clear that many of the changes in methodology came at the request of, and subject to the approval of, the White House.
The White House is always looking for evidence to show the benefits of the health law, which is an issue in many of this year’s midterm elections. The Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Council of Economic Advisers requested several of the new questions, and the White House Office of Management and Budget approved the new questionnaire. But the decision to make fundamental changes in the survey was driven by technical experts at the Census Bureau, and members of Congress have not focused on it or suggested political motives.
I like that last line. The so-called "technical experts" at the Census Bureau are exactly the people who put out the ridiculously fraudulent "poverty" and "income inequality" numbers that are hugely designed to drive further growth of the government. This is a Washington bureaucracy, where everybody votes Democrat and shares an interest in government expansion. How naive can we be?
In his Best of the Web column yesterday, James Taranto reminds us of the story of the initial nomination by Obama of Judd Gregg (Republican Senator from New Hampshire) as Commerce Secretary, and subsequent withdrawal of that nomination by Gregg. Taranto quotes a report from the time as to Gregg's reason for withdrawing:
Sen. Judd Gregg said today [Feb. 12, 2009] that his decision to withdraw from consideration for commerce secretary was due in part to his concern with the Obama administration's decision to have the next Census director report to senior White House staffers as well as the commerce secretary.
Obama and his team knew exactly what they were doing taking control of the Census Bureau into the White House.
Bloomberg View blogger Megan McArdle -- who often gives the government much more benefit of the doubt than I ever would -- reacts as follows:
I’m speechless. Shocked. Stunned. Horrified. Befuddled. Aghast, appalled, thunderstruck, perplexed, baffled, bewildered and dumbfounded. It’s not that I am opposed to the changes . . . . But why, dear God, oh, why, would you change it in the one year in the entire history of the republic that it is most important for policy makers, researchers and voters to be able to compare the number of uninsured to those in prior years?
Well, there is nothing remotely honest about what is going on. Who could possibly be so naive as to think that the interest of the "policy makers, researchers and voters" in honest data to make their decisions trumps the interest of the administration in preserving Obamacare and the interest of the bureaucracy in getting more Democrats elected to Congress in 2014?
Now, it is actually possible that the number of so-called "insured" is going to increase slightly this year, entirely due to a substantial expansion of Medicaid, otherwise known as bribing people to accept free "insurance" so that the numbers can be improved. The number of new Medicaid sign-ups is said to be around 3 million. It is a very safe bet that absent that free giveaway the numbers of uninsured would be up. But no way is the government ever going to let the people see honest numbers.