The headlines are everywhere. General Motors is responsible for thirteen deaths. Harry Reid’s Senate and John Boehner’s House have each held a hearing. Some 230,000 pages of documents have been turned over by the company, Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat, is railing about a GM “culture of cover-up.” The job of the GM CEO, Mary Barra, is on the line, and she is summoned to those televised hearings to explain and apologize. The families of the victims are giving well-attended press conferences.
The Health Care Spectator
Yesterday the Obama Administration boasted that six million people had signed up for Obamacare.
There was not a word about Frank Alfisi.
Frank Alfisi was killed by Obamacare.
His daughter, Amy DiFrancesca, is furious. And yes, she quite specifically blames the President of the United States for her father’s death. As did the doctor who told Amy: “You can thank Mr. Obama for this.”
Before we get to the specifics of how Frank Alfisi died, let’s begin with the who of this story. Mr. Alfisi was not a statistic. He wasn’t a guinea pig or a lab rat. Frank Alfisi was a real person. A son, a brother, a husband, a father, a grandfather. So let’s start here by getting to know something about Amy’s Dad Frank.
"This feels like a punishment," Julie Birch says, sitting down in her New Mexico home after bandaging her twelve-year-old’s bleeding leg. "The ones doing the right thing got penalized."
Birch is the mother of two athletic sons and the wife of a self-employed restaurant designer and builder. As a stay-at-home mother, the health of her family is her first priority – so health insurance was a given. Birch used to pay a $344 premium with a $1,500 deductible for her family of four’s policy.
That is, before Obamacare.
President Obama promised hundreds of typical middle-class Americans like Birch that the Affordable Care Act wouldn’t bar them from seeing their doctors or kick them off their insurance plans. They were already insured, they created jobs, and worked hard to live the American dream. This was supposed to help "the least of these" without harming "the better offs."
Paul Krugman keeps daring the conservative right to find a real Obamacare victim story – one that couldn’t be debunked by a little extra sleuthing. Well, Paul, here are three.
And so with ukuleles and autoharps, and cheers and groans, Americans usher Obamacare onto the public stage, knowing -- with hope, with disgust, with fear, with acceptance -- that the thing is here to stay, in the way all government programs, once enacted, hang around like a deadbeat brother-in-law: chain-smoking, impossible to get rid of.
Foes and friends of Obamacare understand this truth: You never get rid of a government program. Did Ronald Reagan, despite vows and expectations, ever get rid of the promiscuous and worthless Department of Education? Or the Department of Energy? Hardly. In like-manner, Obamacare will endure. The government already claims 1.1 million sign-ups. It is below original expectations; each one nevertheless represents an aspiration not even a President Cruz would find possible to repudiate. And more sign-ups are to come.
The late, great Milton Friedman used to say, there's no such thing as a free lunch. The ancient Romans had another pointed saying: "Quod erat demonstrandum," meaning, roughly, remember now what I told you, doofus?
To put it another way, is there room for surprise in the report that high deductibles may contribute to making Obamacare something less than the divine blessing its authors meant it to be? For all the comforting promises out of D.C., relayed to the general public with profound sweetness, there's no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always pays. To believe otherwise is a) to believe money grows on trees, or b) not to care, so long as someone else picks up the check.
Obamacare's underlying philosophy is b ). In other words, a Democratic Congress, at the instigation of the White House, planned all along that good old Peter would pay Paul in the name of good old income redistribution.
A curious feature of recent U.S. health care reform efforts — easily overlooked amidst the daily media grind of canceled plans, crashing websites and new restrictions — is the irrational belief that we can extend more health care to more Americans while rendering a career as a family physician increasingly unappealing.
Government has grown increasingly entangled in healthcare markets, complicating the working lives of physicians and, in many cases, threatening their bottom line. The result, according to a Deloitte Survey of U.S. Physicians: a growing number of doctors are convinced that “many physicians will retire earlier than planned in the next one to three years.”
In one month, Obamacare’s “fumbled” rollout has undone the Democrats’ fiscal fight gains. For the White House, things have been even worse. These sudden reversals of fortune are unlike anything seen arising from US policy in some time, and they may be a long time away, from being reversed.
Polling numbers show the shockingly swift change that has overtaken Washington’s political landscape. Using Rasmussen polling data, and looking at three dates from this fall — October 1, the start of the government shutdown; October 17, the reopening of the federal government; and November 17, a month after the government’s reopening — the picture of rapid reversal appears.