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Obamacare's biggest failure

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Health insurance and health care are two different things.

America's politicians, White House speechwriters, and way too much of the news media should be forced to write the above sentence 1,000 times. Because they just don't seem to understand that getting millions more Americans signed onto to some kind of health insurance is absolutely nothing to be proud of unless those people actually get better and affordable care. And there's also nothing to celebrate about Obamacare if there's been no easing of the burden for emergency rooms where we have cared for so many uninsured people at such a high cost for so long.

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So far it looks like the ACA is 0 for 2. It's already been well documented that the Obamacare plans are leaving millions of Americans struggling to find doctors who actually accept their new insurance plans. And now it turns out America's emergency rooms aren't getting a break either. A just-released poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians, shows that 75% of the 2,099 ER doctors it surveyed are seeing either a major surge or at least a slight increase in the volume of patients coming into their emergency departments. Again, not only are the ER's not seeing any easing of traffic but their burden to care for those unable to find accessible health care has increased in the past year. So much for all those millions of Americans who were supposed to have great new choices and great new access to care.

Who could have predicted this? It turns out almost everyone who was honest about the ACA, myself included, has been predicting this for more than five years. It certainly didn't take a genius to see it coming, especially when the same thing happened in states like Hawaii and Massachusetts when those states gave their citizens the lemon we know as mandatory health insurance coverage. But the real tip off was when we learned that so many people signing up for Obamacare were being shoved into Medicaid. a system that has been struggling for years to find enough doctors to accept its ridiculously low reimbursement structure. And since Obamacare doesn't do anything to encourage more young people to go into medicine, there was the simple math problem of too many patients and not enough doctors to treat them. You can have all the nice laminated insurance cards you can carry, but they aren't worth a thing if you can't find a doctor who can treat you.

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All of this would be bad enough if implementing Obamacare came for free. But the costs of the ACA are exorbitant and already at least $250 billion more than President Obama promised when he signed it into law in 2010. And don't forget the political price we had to pay as the nation was torn apart over yet another new wedge issue. The dozens and dozens of Democrats who lost their seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives in 2010 and 2014 because of their support for Obamacare probably think the cost for this ineffective clunker was too high as well.

It's not good when the best thing you can say for a supposedly sweeping new health care law is that it gave us a picture of a 23-year-old man wearing little boy pajamas to chuckle about. But there's nothing funny about emergency rooms getting more crowded across the country even as more people are supposedly being "covered." If we don't stop cheerleading meaningless sign up numbers and start paying attention to the numbers of people in our ER's, no one will be laughing pretty soon.

Commentary by Jake Novak, supervising producer of "Power Lunch." Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.