According to Byron York, if you are getting Medicaid benefits or you are 26 years or younger and getting coverage on your parents’ health insurance plan, you simply do not exist. There are an estimated seven and a half million people in this country that fall into one of those two categories and now have access to health care that they would not have enjoyed if John McCain had won the 2008 election, but they don’t count.

The [Los Angeles] Times says the numbers break down like this: 4.5 million previously uninsured people are now on Medicaid; 3 million previously uninsured young people are now covered because of a provision that allows them to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26; and 2 million previously uninsured people have purchased coverage on the Obamacare exchanges. In all, it is “the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century,” according to the Times…

…The part where Democrats essentially blew up the health care markets, imposed the individual mandate, and caused premiums to rise and deductibles to skyrocket? That hasn’t been such a success. If the Times number are correct, all of that — placing new burdens of higher costs and narrower choices on millions of Americans, in addition to setting the stage for coming changes in employer-based coverage — has resulted in two million of the previously uninsured gaining coverage.

Let me explain the logical error here, in case it isn’t immediately obvious. Byron York says in the first paragraph that 9.5 million people now have health insurance that they would not otherwise have. In his the second paragraph he says that two million people now have health insurance that they would otherwise not have.

How did he subtract 7.5 million people? He refused to acknowledge that they actually exist.

He also conveniently ignores that millions more people would have health insurance today if Medicaid had been allowed to expand in all 50 states as was intended by the drafters of the law.

His argument, insofar as he makes one, is that more people have been insured by the “modest” reforms of allowing people to stay on their parents’ plans and the expansion of Medicaid (that’s “modest” now) than have been insured on the new health care exchanges.

Not only is that consistent with the design of the law, but it’s what should be expected. Most people are either too poor to afford insurance or they get coverage from their employer.

But at least Mr. York isn’t as dishonest as Marc Thiessen, who trots out a litany of lies in rapid succession in a piece so dishonest that the Washington Post should be forced to spend some time in the time-out chair for publishing it.

Jonathan Cohn already eviscerated the totality of Thiessen’s argument, so I don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Let me focus on this part only:

And let’s not forget: Many of those new Obamacare sign-ups are self-sufficient people who were previously paying their own way and now receive government subsidies for insurance. Creating government dependency is not progress — it’s a step backward.

The stated goal of Obamacare was not to move millions of privately insured Americans into taxpayer-subsidized health coverage. The goal was to cover the uninsured.

So, let’s say that you are a self-employed person who was previously shouldering the entire burden of your health care costs. You were “self-sufficient.” Now you are receiving a subsidy to help you pay your heath insurance bill. You have become “government-dependent.” The bill helps you, obviously, but you are now on the dole.

If I am following this correctly, this means that you no longer exist.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at