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Republicans' Nasty Attempt to Welfarize Obamacare

ASSOCIATED PRESS/J. Scott Applewhite

No matter what metric you use to estimate Affordable Care Act enrollment, the law's opponents will lowball you one way or another. Some of their objections are better taken than others. If someone really stops paying their premiums, they probably shouldn't count toward the rolling, gross total, especially if you're going to count special enrollees who will sign up in the coming weeks and months toward that figure.

By contrast, attacking coverage figures for failing to reach initial goals, without accounting for non-expansion states, is slippery, and the evidence they cite to claim only a small fraction of the enrollees were previously uninsured is typically total bullshit.

GOP House Whip Kevin McCarthy engages in all of the above. But the following, also from him, is the most baseless and nasty objection I've seen so far. He lists five metrics he wants the administration to release, to "shed light on the true number of enrollees."

Here's number five: "How many received a subsidy (raising concerns about fraud)."

Because everyone knows that if the government helps you buy insurance, you don't count.

Using McCarthy's standard, these people don't really have flood insurance either.

And almost nobody with employer-sponsored health insurance does either. And you probably don't really own your home. And so on.

The real aim here, accented by the insinuation that a significant number of these takers are engaged in fraud, is to stigmatize premium support the same way conservatives stigmatize welfare. To intensify resentment against the law among those outside the system, and bully worthy beneficiaries out of entering it, by shaming them for going on the dole.

This might be effective agit-prop. But in no way does it "shed light on the true number of enrollees."