The Census Bureau decided to so drastically change the methodology of its annual survey for the first time in over 30 years that it will be nearly impossible to measure Obamacare’s impact before the midterm elections.
The New York Times reports that the Census Bureau, which has been “the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades,” also knew for years that its survey had inflated the number of Americans who were uninsured. Democrats relied on that data to push for a complete overhaul of the health care system.
The Census Bureau said the change, implemented during the year that Obamacare is being implemented, was “coincidental” and “unfortunate” because the redesign would have ideally “had at least a few years to gather base line and trend data.”
The new methodology will reportedly show a lower number of uninsured Americans, which will inevitably be compared to the number of uninsured Americans that had been inflated in previous reports, a win-win for the Obama administration. In addition, “the percentage of people with private coverage was statistically higher” with the new methodology.
Census officials told the Times that “the new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable.” An internal Census Bureau document the Times obtained said that the new questionnaire included a “total revision to health insurance questions” and, when tested last year, actually “produced lower estimates of the uninsured.”
“We are expecting much lower numbers just because of the questions and how they are asked,” Brett J. O’Hara, chief of the health statistics branch at the Census Bureau, told the Times.
The traditional questionnaire that had been used for over 30 years had an “inflated estimate of the uninsured” and was prone to “measurement errors,” according to a document the Times obtained. For instance, “the percentage of people without health insurance was 10.6 percent when interviewers used the new questionnaire, compared with 12.5 percent using the old version.”
That did not stop the Obama administration from using the inflated numbers to push for Obamacare. As Breitbart News has reported, just 1.7% of America’s supposedly 48.6 million uninsured have been covered by Obamacare to date.
In 2009, Republicans criticized the Obama administration’s decision to move the Census into the White House, saying it was nothing more than a partisan power grab that the Obama administration could use to its advantage.
Those claims will likely intensify because the White House has not provided data on how many Americans have actually paid for health insurance, even though they have claimed that 7.5 million people have enrolled in an Obamacare program on one of the exchanges. The Obama administration also has been unable to precisely determine how many more Americans actually have insurance after the passage of Obamacare.
The Times notes that “health policy experts and politicians had been assuming that the Census Bureau” would help answer how many Americans “gaining coverage were previously uninsured or had policies canceled” since the annual report “shows the number of people with various kinds of health insurance and the number of uninsured for the nation and for each state.” But Kathleen Thiede Call, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said that the Census data that will be released just before the 2014 midterm elections “will not be directly comparable to what was reported last September.”
Critics of the move said, at a minimum, the new methodology will give the Obama administration cover to say Obamacare’s impact is inconclusive when Republicans criticize the law in the months before the midterm elections.