Obamacare: Costs double in two years
OPTION Act would lower expenses and improve quality of medicine
The Supreme Court’s historic debate over the constitutionality of President Obama’s unpopular health care law is all about economic freedom.
That freedom has been battered, bullied and beaten by the government over many decades in countless laws and restrictions, and it will be further eroded by this ill-advised health care law now before the high court.
At stake in the court’s review is whether an all-powerful federal government can compel Americans to buy a health care plan they neither want, need nor can afford.
That’s what the law’s “mandate” would do, and anyone, outside its religious exemptions, who refuses to purchase health insurance will be punished. The federal attorneys in Monday’s first round of oral arguments alternately called the punishment a penalty or a tax — although whatever they may call it, it’s clearly a punitive fine meant to force Americans to buy a commercial product against their will and to submit to the government’s awesome power.
All of this will be done under the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which gives the feds the authority to regulate interstate commerce. But 26 states and millions of Americans think they’ve gone too far and want the law’s mandate struck down by the highest court in the land.
What’s at stake here from the government’s viewpoint is the financial structure of the health care law that will come crashing down like a house of cards if its central mandate is found to be unconstitutional.
The overhaul was sold to the health care and insurance industries with the promise that just about everyone would be buying into it. Millions of Americans and businesses without health insurance will buy policies, and that will provide the funding to make universal coverage affordable, or so the theory goes.
Take away the forced mandate and you can kiss those potential customers goodbye — and with it the additional business the health care industry needs to pay for the other insurance coverage mandates the Democrats in Congress stuffed into this law.
Mr. Obama and his party rammed this program through the Congress despite opposition from ordinary Americans, struggling small businesses and the states who will bear the brunt of higher Medicaid costs.
The president had expected that the health care law would be a major political winner for him and the Democrats, but it has proved to be a big disappointment. They lost the House and part of the Senate in 2010 and are facing daunting challenges in 2012. If anything, Obamacare has become even more unpopular.
The New York Times reported Monday that five days of polling last week found that only 36 percent of Americans “approve of the health care law, while 47 percent are opposed.”
By nearly 2-to-1, those who strongly disapproved of the law outnumbered those who said they strongly approve of the legislation, the newspaper said.
An earlier poll from the Ap-national Constitution Center found that 82 percent did not think the government should be able to force them to buy health insurance or be fined if they didn’t.
Even those who worked to help shape Obamacare now acknowledge that the law’s mandate was a mistake. One of them is Princeton University’s Paul Starr.
“Democrats managed to get themselves the worst possible result: a law that enflames the opposition on the basis of overreaching federal power but may not work in practice because there is no real power behind it,” Mr. Starr wrote in the New Republic.
“Whether or not the court strikes it down, the individual mandate has been one of the most serious political and policy mistakes of recent decades.”
Obamacare has come with a lot of promises and claims that have proven to be false. Mr. Obama told us in 2009 that his health care plan would cost “around $900 billion over 10 years.” The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported earlier this month that it will cost $1.79 trillion, and probably a lot more in the years to come.
The president and the law’s sponsors claimed it would reduce the rising costs of health care and lower medical insurance premiums. “As a consequence of the Affordable Care Act, premiums are going to be lower than they would be otherwise; health care costs overall are going to be lower than they would be otherwise,” Mr. Obama said in September 2010.
But premiums have been rising since the law was enacted and health care costs along with them. Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber, a major architect of Obamacare, has told some states to expect premiums to rise by 31 percent, according to the Daily Caller website.
“The sad fact is, 31 percent may be lowballing the increase for most. In some states, it may be over 50 percent increase,” said health care reporter Rick Moran of the American Thinker website.
Then there’s Mr. Obama’s promise, “If you like your present coverage, you can keep it.” But in a recent report citing a “tremendous amount of uncertainty,” the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation suggested that about 3 million to 5 million fewer people each year will be able to obtain employer-provided health insurance coverage between 2019 and 2022.
Obamacare won’t make health care better, it will make it more costly, harder to get and frustratingly bureaucratic.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey says premiums for a family policy hit $15,000 last year, rising by an average of $1,300, three times faster than in 2010. The culprits: the health care mandates imposed by Mr. Obama.
“The many Obamacare mandates to come will raise premiums even further,” says veteran health care analyst Grace-marie Turner.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on Obamacare this summer. The voters will render their own verdict Nov. 6.
Two years ago, President Obama signed into law his massive 2,700-page takeover of our health care system. Those thousands of pages are full of mandates controlling exactly how patients, doctors and employers must handle health care decisions. They also hide budgetary gimmicks and schemes designed to obscure the true cost of the bill. Recently, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) uncovered some of these hidden costs, and it is clear that the original $938 billion price tag was only a low-ball estimate. The CBO now pegs the cost at nearly double — $1.79 trillion. Even worse, the CBO also estimates that nearly 20 million people could lose their employer-provided insurance due to the rising costs of Obamacare mandates.
Two years in, there is no question that Obamacare fundamentally warps American health care. Just as I feared, it is breaking down the patient-doctor relationship and placing bureaucrats soundly in the middle of the decision-making process — all at a huge cost to our economy and future generations.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The American people want and deserve better than the Obamacare power grab. In order to reform health care while protecting our constitutional liberties and maintaining our free market system, I authored H.R. 4224, the Patient OPTION Act of 2012. The OPTION Act is what true patient-centered health care reform looks like — it lowers costs and improves health care by giving you more control, not less. The bill is clear, concise and without the gimmicks or countless mandates in Obamacare. What you see is what you get.
In just 51 pages, the OPTION Act puts forward several important reforms that will lower costs while raising the availability and quality of health care. First and foremost, it pulls out Obamacare and its counterpart, the Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, by the roots. It also makes all health care expenditures fully tax deductible and expands the use of Health Savings Accounts, lowering the financial impact of health care both on our economy and Americans’ wallets. It allows individuals and businesses to purchase health insurance across state lines, injecting competition into the marketplace to naturally drive down costs. In addition, it makes it easier for groups to form associations in order to negotiate for lower insurance rates on a group-by-group basis.
My OPTION Act will improve health care for needy patients without putting decisions in the hands of the federal government. It reforms Medicare’s onesize-fits-all approach, creating a Premium Assistance Program like the one offered to federal government employees. This gives those on Medicare more control over their health care, allowing them to choose a plan that best suits them. It also gives tax incentives to physicians who provide free care to those who cannot afford it. This strengthens communities, combating the idea that the government can be the only provider of assistance to those in need.
Americans have loudly voiced that they want a doover on Obamacare. My OPTION Act is just that, providing access to the affordable care that so many people need, while adhering to the Constitution and strengthening the free market. It completely removes government from the doctor-patient relationship. It is also the only bill to give the patient full control of their coverage — even if they are on Medicare.
Washington has been forcing bills with hundreds or thousands of pages of deception upon the American people for far too long. With any issue, but especially one as personal and sensitive as health care, we must fight for simpler and more open legislation. My OPTION Act tackles many of the fundamental problems with health care in exactly that manner. If you want health care reform that is gimmick-free, centered on your needs as a patient, and lowers costs using our free-market system, I urge you to reach out to Washington and let them know you stand with me and behind my OPTION Act.