The President, congressional Democrats, and their media allies have attempted to portray the partial Obamacare repeal passed by the Senate last Thursday as cynical GOP posturing. As MSNBC phrased it, “It’s not exactly a secret that when congressional Republicans vote to repeal all or part of the Affordable Care Act… it’s not because they intend to succeed.” The Democrats want to convince the electorate that the Senate bill is just another “symbolic” GOP repeal effort. But it isn’t. This measure will actually reach Obama’s desk, which will force him to once again tell the voters to “go to Hell.”
The Senate bill and the President’s inevitable veto will constitute a practical and timely demonstration of his party’s contempt for representative democracy. It will remind the voters that the Democrats have no intention of heeding their will on health care reform or anything else. Voter anger about Obamacare has already cost the President’s party its majorities in both houses, and it is undeniably more unpopular than ever. Yet, not only has President Obama promised to veto the repeal bill, the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee has publicly pledged to be equally unresponsive to the will of the people.
Such arrogance would be justified, according to the perverse logic of liberalism, if Obamacare was working. But only a con artist or someone with brain damage would make that claim. The Democrats promised that Obamacare would “bend the cost curve down.” But the “Affordable Care Act” has rendered health care less affordable. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that a decade-long downward trend in health care inflation came to a halt during the first year Obamacare took effect: “In 2014, U.S. health care spending increased 5.3 percent following growth of 2.9 percent in 2013.”
On a less abstract level, Obamacare has caused out-of-pocket costs for patients to skyrocket. All but a few must buy a “qualifying” plan that includes a government-mandated list of “benefits,” and individuals are forbidden to forego anything on the list. Nor may insurers sell plans that fail to include them all. Such policies are absurdly expensive, so patients must offset high premiums with higher deductibles. Thus, even people receiving subsidies face high out-of-pocket costs. And HHS is predicting more increases in deductibles for plans sold through Obamacare’s exchanges during the next enrollment period.
Obamacare apologists try to explain this away by claiming that the law has reduced the number of uninsured Americans. But, as conservative and libertarian health care experts have repeatedly pointed out, coverage isn’t care. This was confirmed by a recent Gallup survey: “Slightly fewer than one in three Americans (31%) say that they or a family member have put off any sort of medical treatment in the past year because of the cost.” This compares to 30% who gave the same answer the year Obamacare became law. In other words, more people have “coverage” but there has been no real improvement in access.
Because concerns about access and rising costs were the primary drivers of voter interest in health care reform in the first place, the Senate repeal bill will provide an excellent opportunity to remind the voters that Obamacare has failed to improve the former and has actually exacerbated the latter. It will also refresh their memory about the way it was sold to them—that Obama and his Democrat accomplices told lie after lie based on the assumption that “the stupidity of the American voter” was such that we would swallow such transparent whoppers as “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”
Unfortunately, the Senate bill doesn’t repeal Obamacare in its entirety. Because the Republicans had to use the reconciliation process to prevent a Democrat filibuster, it necessarily focuses on provisions that directly affect the federal budget. According to the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, the measure would eliminate $1.5 trillion in spending and $1.2 trillion in taxes. It gets rid of the individual mandate, the employer mandate, exchange subsidies, the risk corridor (a gimmick to redistribute profits among insurers), the Cadillac tax, and Medicaid expansion. It also cuts Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.
That still leaves a lot undone, of course. The bill would leave the Medicaid expansion and exchange subsidies in place for two more years. It also leaves Obamacare’s regulatory morass untouched, does nothing about the Independent Payment Advisory Board (a.k.a. the Death Panel), and ignores the law’s Medicare cuts. Also, because the Senate bill is much more aggressive than the repeal bill passed by the House in October, it will have to go back to the lower chamber for a vote. There is little doubt, however, that it will pass. The next stop will be the President’s desk, and he won’t be able to vote “present.”
The President will veto this partial repeal bill and that will remind the voters of two important facts: It will demonstrate that, despite Obamacare’s ongoing failures and continuing unpopularity, neither he nor any other Democrat will voluntarily heed the will of the people. This, in turn, will make it clear that there is only one cure for such a virulent strain of arrogance—replace Obama with a Republican next November.