Recently, while most of the media obsessed over the antics of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the nation passed a significant milestone. Medicaid, the federal-state program meant to provide a medical safety net for the poor, turned 50. This anniversary was celebrated by progressives as proof that government-run health care really works. Few of these cheerleaders noted, however, that this once modest program has morphed into a budget-busting behemoth most of whose expenditures go to the middle class. They also neglected to mention the difficulties Medicaid patients face accessing care or that they experience worse health outcomes than the uninsured.
The Right Prescription
Most of Donald Trump’s public statements include the rote declaration that Obamacare is a disaster. This is true, of course, but it doesn’t tell us anything new. It’s only when he starts elaborating on his objections that one gets a sense of what he believes, and he doesn’t talk like a friend of the free market. During last week’s Republican debate, for example, he was asked about his past praise of single-payer health care and replied, “As far as single-payer, it works in Canada, works incredibly well in Scotland.” This answer was both antithetical to free-market thinking and profoundly ignorant.
When former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley signed the bill that created his state’s Obamacare exchange, he bragged that it was “being established using no state funds… due to federal grants.” Later, when the online “marketplace” exploded on the launch pad and a new IT company was hired to untangle the wreckage, O’Malley’s top health official assured Maryland voters that this would be paid for with “leftover federal grants.” Consequently, it surprised many when Maryland’s Attorney General announced a $45 million settlement with the original contractor the proceeds of which would be split between the federal government and the state.
When Democrat Martin O’Malley announced his presidential bid, the media billed him as part of a new generation of talented technocrats. The former Maryland governor, as one outlet put it, “helped pioneer a data-driven approach that made government more efficient.” These people have evidently forgotten the spectacular failure of Maryland’s online Obamacare exchange, which crashed moments after launch because O’Malley and his administration studiously ignored ominous data provided by its technical experts. In other words, O’Malley’s “data-driven approach” didn’t involve looking at actual data. It consisted primarily of telling the media that Maryland’s exchange would be a “model for the nation.”
If you have ever witnessed one of those “spontaneous” pro-abortion demonstrations held in Washington whenever Congress contemplates curtailing taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, you may have noticed that there was something missing—African-American demonstrators. This is odd, considering that black women are far more likely to have abortions than are their Caucasian counterparts. And, examined in light of the now infamous video of a white Planned Parenthood official discussing how to crush a baby without damaging marketable livers and other organs, it is particularly ominous. Why? Because the terminated baby will probably have been black, and that is no coincidence.
We have all known someone who, having paid an exorbitant sum for a car that seems to spend a lot of time in the shop, insists it’s the best automobile he’s ever owned. That's Paul Krugman where Obamacare is concerned. His psychological and professional investment in the perversely titled Affordable Care Act is such that he cannot bring himself to admit that he bought a lemon. And like the guy with the pricey car that keeps breaking down, his claims about the dysfunctional law are becoming so preposterous that they are literally provoking laughter when he makes them in public.
Despite the Supreme Court’s repeated attempts to prop it up, Obamacare is collapsing. This is obvious not merely to the majority of Americans who have always disapproved of the law, but also to an increasing number of progressives. Consequently, we are once again hearing calls for single-payer health care. Most advocates of this system, including Hillary Clinton’s main competitor for the 2016 Democrat presidential nomination, favor Medicare-for-All. They want, in other words, to put all Americans on the government program that covers the elderly and disabled. An excellent antidote for this simplistic solution is David Hogberg’s new book, Medicare’s Victims: How the U.S. Government’s Largest Health Care Program Harms Patients and Impairs Physicians. (National Center for Public Policy Research, 336 pages, $14.99 paper; $6.99 Kindle)
Saturday morning, fresh from his latest victory over the rule of law, President Obama delivered his weekly address to the bored technicians and sycophantic aides who make up most of the audience for this anachronistic performance. His theme was as predictable as it was Orwellian: “The Affordable Care Act is working, and it is here to stay.” The first half of this assertion fails to pass the laugh test. And, for those who believe that the whims of the Supreme Court are somehow permanent, I recommend a little research into another SCOTUS ruling much celebrated by Democrats—Plessy v. Ferguson.
The Supreme Court had an opportunity, with its ruling in King v. Burwell, to determine whether the United States is a nation of laws or of men. Today, in a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that we have devolved into the latter.
Although the text of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) clearly states that the government may issue subsidies only through insurance exchanges established by the states, Obama administration bureaucrats unilaterally rewrote that part of the law so that the IRS could dispense such premium assistance through “marketplaces” created by the federal government. The plaintiffs in King sued the government on the grounds that the Executive Branch has no power to thus alter an act of Congress.
Incredibly, SCOTUS has sided with the White House.
A week from today, the Supreme Court will tell us whether it is now legally permissible for Executive Branch bureaucrats to rewrite laws that fail to fit their statist agenda. And, the unctuous posturing of Obamacare apologists notwithstanding, that’s all King v. Burwell is about. It will answer one question: Can Barack Obama and his scofflaw administration get away with enacting a statute that was never passed by Congress? Yet, listening to the President, congressional Democrats, and the media, it’s about whether “reform” will be gutted and untold millions deprived of “affordable” insurance coverage. What a bunch of sanctimonious BS.