The Right Prescription

Obamacare: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Time to do the humane thing.

By 3.31.14

Send to Kindle

A new survey reveals that public esteem for Obamacare is continuing to plummet, hitting yet another historic low. According to an Associated Press-GfK poll released last Friday, “President Barack Obama's health care law is languishing at its lowest level since passage of the landmark legislation four years ago, according to a new poll.” The AP survey shows that a mere “26 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act.”

When the law was passed, 39 percent of the public supported it. But the President, along with his accomplices in Congress and the media, assured us that this percentage would rise once “reform” was implemented. In other words, Obama and his minions are no better at prognostication than they are at managing websites, insurance exchanges or anything else relating to health care. Even now, they can’t see that Obamacare is a colossal failure.

And, make no mistake, the absurdly titled Affordable Care Act is indeed a failure. This has become so obvious that even some publications among the legacy news media, whose dog-like devotion to Obama’s “signature domestic achievement” did much to diminish their already-declining credibility, have begun to tell the truth. The Washington Post, for example, recently put it thus: “Is Obamacare working? The short answer is no.”

Throughout the health care debate that preceded Obamacare’s passage, public surveys consistently showed that Americans wanted two basic things from health care reform — decreased cost and increased access. Thus, the President and congressional Democrats vowed that Obamacare would achieve those goals, plus provide countless collateral benefits. In practice, however, the law has produced precisely the opposite.

First, the “Affordable Care Act” will increase rather than reduce costs. Avik Roy, of the Manhattan Institute, has shown that Americans seeking coverage on the individual market will encounter Obamacare-induced price increases averaging 41 percent. And, to those who claim that such individuals will be protected from such hikes by subsidies, Roy points out that federal subsidies aren’t free: “They’re paid for by taxpayers.”

Moreover, the increased costs caused by Obamacare will by no means be limited to the individual market. On February 21, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a report indicating that Obamacare will cause health coverage premiums to increase for a majority of small businesses: “We are estimating that 65 percent of the small firms are expected to experience increases in their premium rates.”

These premium increases, particularly those involving the individual market, will contribute to the health law’s failure to increase access. As I wrote in this space a few weeks ago, only about 10% of the uninsured are signing up for coverage through Obamacare’s exchanges. What’s the problem? According to a survey released by McKinsey & Company, the most common reason cited by uninsured respondents was lack of affordability.

What about all those people who are signing up for Medicaid in the states that expanded coverage? As I pointed out here last January, those individuals will discover that Medicaid coverage has reduced their ability to access primary care. Why? Because Medicaid pays primary physicians less than it costs to see patients. Thus, fewer and fewer doctors will accept Medicaid patients, who will be forced to seek care in the local ER.

So, Obamacare has not merely failed to provide relief in the two areas where the public most wanted help — cost and access — it has actually made matters worse. Yet the Obama administration and its supporters refuse to face the facts, or simply misrepresent them. For example, as David Hogberg points out in the Federalist, the Obamacare enrollment figures reported by the administration don’t pass the laugh test.

And, unfortunately, many establishment “news” outlets continue to dissemble about Obamacare. During the second week in March, for example, it was widely reported that “reform” was driving down the uninsured rate. And the 15.9 percent rate repeatedly cited is indeed lower than last year’s peak. Conspicuously absent from these reports, however, was any mention of the percentage that prevailed before Obamacare passed—14.4 percent.

I recently came across a good analogy for Obamacare in a book about the Crimean War. The “reform” law is like a mortally wounded horse thrashing and bleeding on a 19th century battlefield. Regardless of how emotionally attached its rider was to the animal or how much money it cost, there was no question of “fixing” it. Every cavalryman of that period understood precisely what had to be done in that situation.

Sadly, neither the President nor his bureaucrats can make that claim where Obamacare is concerned. They have done everything they can think of, both legal and illegal, to get the beast on its feet. And they keep telling the public that a few more bandages and stitches will put it in fine fettle. The Galen Institute, which has been keeping a running tally, reports that the number of such remedies has now reached 38.

This nonsense isn’t going to work. For Obamacare, there are two choices: Let it die a slow and painful death or put it quickly out of its misery.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author

David Catron is a health care revenue cycle expert who has spent more than twenty years working for and consulting with hospitals and medical practices. He has an MBA from the University of Georgia and blogs at Health Care BS.