When it became obvious a couple of years ago that Obamacare would accelerate health care inflation, the law’s boosters began claiming that cost control was never its primary goal. PPACA’s promoters had previously promised that it would reduce annual health care expenses by $2,500 per family while improving access and quality of care. But the facts forced them to abandon that pledge and adopt a safer party line. As expressed by the New York Times, the new story goes thus: “At its most basic level, the Affordable Care Act was intended to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance.”
The Right Prescription
I put off reading Steven Brill’s new book for much the same reason I procrastinate when it’s time to clean the gutters on my house. I was sure it would be a boring chore that would leave me yearning for a shower. A previous encounter with this writer’s work in a 2013 edition of Time suggested that this tome would contain a catalogue of canards about U.S. health care, a tendentious account of the tawdry political process that produced Obamacare, and some hare-brained theory on how to fix our medical delivery system once and for all.
Marilyn Tavenner, the Obama administration official who presided over Obamacare’s worst debacles and most devious deceptions, has finally made an intelligent decision—she resigned. Tavenner ran the government bureaucracy responsible for the inept rollout of HealthCare.gov, the promulgation of phony PPACA enrollment figures, and the handout of legally dubious waivers to Democrat-friendly donors. And, when Congress subpoenaed her emails—stop me if you’ve heard this one before—she discovered that they had somehow been deleted. Having thus committed as many blunders as can be reasonably expected of any incompetent apparatchik, she announced last Friday that she will depart next month.
One reason your insurance premiums have skyrocketed during the past year is that Obamacare requires all health plans to provide “free” annual wellness visits and 15 associated preventive services for which they cannot charge the patient a copayment. According to a key architect of PPACA, however, “the annual physical exam is basically worthless.” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, last heard from claiming that he wants to die at 75 in order to avoid becoming a burden on society, writes in the New York Times that “screening healthy people who have no complaints is a pretty ineffective way to improve people’s health.”
Obamacare was designed such that its most harmful provisions would not be implemented until after the President had been returned to office for a second term and his Democrat accomplices had been reelected to their congressional seats. Fortunately for the nation, the latter part of that strategy was a spectacular failure. Nonetheless, it did provide the public with a temporary reprieve from the health care law’s most painful exactions. That brief respite is now at an end. This year, you will begin to experience the realities of “reform” first hand and you are not going to like how it feels.
Recent news coverage concerning Obamacare’s legal difficulties has been dominated by King v. Burwell, which challenges the controversial IRS decision to issue subsidies and penalties through federally created insurance exchanges in 34 states that refused set up PPACA “marketplaces.” The Supreme Court announced last month that it would take up King, and it will hear oral arguments in March. The alacrity with which the Court took up the case, upon which it will hand down a ruling in June, has rendered the law’s supporters nearly hysterical. But King is by no means the only legal threat Obamacare will face next year.
My youngest daughter just joined the ever-increasing number of Americans who have lost their health coverage due to Obamacare. She received a letter from her insurance carrier indicating that the individual policy with which she was eminently satisfied, and that she could more or less afford, would no longer be available after the end of the year. In its place, the insurer offered a plan whose premiums will be nearly double what she has been paying for the cancelled policy. Her monthly premium was $127. The premium for the replacement policy, if she can find no alternative, will be $243.
The scariest words uttered during Jonathan Gruber’s recent appearance before the House Oversight Committee were “positive selection.” They were read aloud by Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, from a 1997 paper the professor co-authored concerning abortion. The opus in question made the Congressman uneasy because of the following passage: “By 1993 all cohorts under the age 19 were born under legalized abortion and we estimate steady state savings of $1.6 billion per year from positive selection.” Rep. Massie asked the professor what was meant by “positive selection.” This question was evidently not anticipated in Gruber’s pre-testimony coaching, so he became evasive.
For years, the Washington press corps has been telling us that our medical delivery system was antiquated and unable to meet the needs of its 21st century customers. The journalists of the legacy media frequently suggested that opposition to a government-imposed solution to this very real problem was rooted in ignorance, irrational fear of change, or venality. Over the past several days, we have had the opportunity to observe some of these people react to a similar upheaval in their own industry, and the response has been instructive. Oddly enough, they have exhibited a surprising affinity for the status quo.
An important point has been buried in the avalanche of commentary about Jonathan Gruber’s indictment of the electorate as intellectually deficient. The “father of Obamacare,” as he was known in his salad days, inadvertently acquitted nearly half of us with his reference to “the stupidity of the American voter.” The professor’s condescending comments can only apply to those people who actually believed the empty promises our President made on behalf of his health care “reform” law. A large plurality of the voters always knew that Obama, his congressional accomplices, and creepy little hirelings like Jonathan Gruber were lying to us.