So misshapen is this new law — starting with its death-panel gutting of Medicare — it can only be regarded as the beginning, not the end, of the battle to reform health care policy in the U.S.
Forthcoming for public release shortly will be my extensive study of the Obamacare legislation, “The Obamacare Disaster: An Appraisal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (Heartland Policy StudyNo. 128, The Heartland Institute, August 2010), available shortly at the Heartland Institute website. Following Nancy Pelosi’s dictum that we will have to pass it first to know what’s in it, I personally slogged through the thousands of pages of this legislative atrocity for the study, as well as thousands of pages of supplemental materials such as government, think tank and media reports.
The bottom line is that you will lose your health care under this legislation, if not your job, your country as they bankrupt America, and maybe ultimately your life or the life of a loved one. All that to make dreamy, emotionalized, liberals happy, even though many of them are not happy because the socialism in the bill is not overt enough. Moreover, the promises made to the American people to pass the bill are shown in the study to be thoroughly false. This pattern of calculated deception, however, did not fool the American people, only members of Congress, many of whom will now pay with their jobs as a result.
But the study is not all gloom and doom. It thoroughly explains the Patient Power reforms that should replace it when it is repealed, drawing on the broad scholarship of the Patient Power movement and its intellectual leaders, such as John Goodman, Grace Marie Turner, Sally Pipes, Merrill Mathews, and Greg Scandlen, among others. It consequently serves as a guidebook for the grassroots Tea Party activists who will lead the long-term crusade for Health Care Liberation.
The Government Takeover of Health Care
Contrary to President Obama’s rhetoric, the Obamacare legislation involves precisely the thorough government takeover of health care. It creates 159 new bureaucracies, agencies, boards, commissions, and programs to rule over health care in America. Government authorities are empowered to tell doctors and hospitals what is quality health care and what is not, what are best practices in medicine, how their medical practices should be structured, and what they will be paid and when. Government authorities will mandate exactly what health insurance with what benefits workers and employers must buy, and the Act imposes tax penalties on them if they do not comply. Government authorities will dictate to insurance companies exactly what health insurance they must sell, to whom they must sell it, and what they can charge. Obamacare even redistributes premium income among insurers under a new “risk adjustment” mechanism.
But this is just the beginning. As in everything President Obama is doing, it lays the groundwork for much more thorough government control and compulsion over time, primarily through bureaucratic landmines involving grants of regulatory authority that will explode when the bureaucracy thinks it can get away with it politically. Among the biggest targets here will be doctors and hospitals, which over time will become complete vassals of the regulatory, bureaucratic state Obamacare establishes.
Higher Health Care Costs
President Obama promised while campaigning for his health reform legislation that it would reduce the “growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government,” in particular by reducing the cost of health insurance by $2,500 per family. But
the Obamacare legislation will have just the opposite effect, sharply increasing health costs for families, businesses, and government.
Higher costs for government start with the expansion of the Medicaid entitlement, which was already slated to cost $5 trillion over the next 10 years. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that Obamacare will increase Medicaid enrollment by 24 million new beneficiaries by 2015, adding an additional $410 billion in further federal costs for the program over the next decade alone.
Obamacare increases costs for the federal government further by adopting a massive new health insurance entitlement program for families earning up to four times the poverty level. In 2014, this new program will be providing $3,000 in taxpayer funds to families making $95,000. By 2018, almost $5,000 will be going to families making $102,000. CBO estimates that these subsidies will cost taxpayers an additional $457 billion over the first six years alone, through 2019. The Chief Actuary of Medicare estimates the total cost of this new entitlement will reach over $500 billion over the first six years. This is only the beginning, as this program will ultimately cost far more than now projected.
This is a massive increase in welfare extended to middle and upper-income families, irresponsibly added on top of the runaway, financially intractable entitlement promises we have already made. But Obamacare then adds a third new entitlement program, for long term nursing home care.
For the rest of us, Obamacare will sharply increase insurance costs. That starts with the mandates forcing everyone into comprehensive insurance coverage specified by the government, which will maximize the incentives for overconsumption of health care, to be paid for through the insurance. Then there are all of President Obama’s free new benefits now mandated, such as coverage for alcohol and drug abuse rehab, mental health services, preventive care, maternity benefits for single males and postmenopausal adults, and the elimination of all lifetime limits and caps. Free mandatory benefits raise health insurance costs.
Additional regulatory burdens will further increase costs. The guaranteed issue requirements force insurers to issue new policies to anyone who applies regardless of how sick they are, and the community rating requirements prohibit charging them more because of their illnesses. These requirements, which are just like forcing fire insurers to issue new policies to applicants whose houses are already on fire when they call, at regular rates, raise the costs of health insurance sharply for everyone else.
Two new taxes on health insurance, the Cadillac tax for supposedly high value insurance that will apply to more and more plans every year, and another tax on all health insurance from the start, will add nearly $100 billion to health insurance costs over the next 10 years alone. Then there will be sharply increased cost shifting to private health insurance due to the massive expansion of Medicaid to 24 million more people, and the more than massive Medicare cuts discussed below, as doctors and hospitals try to recoup their enormous losses by charging more to privately insured patients.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?