Tuesday, October 1, 2013

America’s Obamacare Crisis

My article from the Sept. 26, 2013, issue of FrontPage Magazine:

America's Obamacare Crisis

By Matthew Vadum

Sen. Ted Cruz’s talking filibuster against Obamacare has helped to draw attention to the endless problems the program’s implementation is causing in society.

The 21 hour, 19 minute-long speech by Cruz, the junior Republican senator from Texas, that ended midday yesterday, served as a highly informative infomercial that detailed how the incipient entitlement program is boosting health insurance premiums, unemployment, and misery across the nation.

No one seems to think Obamacare is ready for prime time, except perhaps for the Obama administration and Democratic Party officials. An ABC/Washington Post poll shows 9 of 10 Americans don’t believe that the federal government, their state governments, and the health insurance industry are fully prepared to implement Obamacare. It is worth noting that in 16 ABC/Post polls since August 2009 Obamacare has never received majority support.

Moreover, six in 10 Americans (60%) now believe the federal government already has too much power, according to Gallup polls. Only 7 percent of Americans –that’s roughly one out of 14– believe the government doesn’t have enough power.

Yet President Obama sides with the statists who comprise the 7 percent.

This is the same President Obama who promised voters, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

Columnist and bestselling author Michelle Malkin laments that Obamacare has caused her family to get booted out of its health insurance plan.

Like an estimated 22 million other Americans, I am a self-employed small-business owner who buys health insurance for my family directly on the individual market. We have a high-deductible PPO plan that allows us to choose from a wide range of doctors. Or rather, we had such a plan.
Last week Anthem BlueCross BlueShield of Colorado notified the Malkins that they will not be allowed to retain their current insurance plan beyond its 2014 renewal date. The company blamed the loss of the family’s insurance on “changes from health care reform (also called the Affordable Care Act or ACA).”

“In short: Obama lied. My health plan died,” Malkin writes. Anthem’s cancellation letter said the entity will not be “selling new individual PPO plans,” and the company doesn’t know what plans it will be offering in the future.

“We either will be herded into the Obamacare federal health insurance exchange regime (launching October 1), a severely limited HMO plan, or presented with costlier alternatives from another insurer. If they even exist,” she writes.

The same thing is happening to families across America.

Andy and Amy Mangione of Louisville, Kentucky, recently learned that the insurance they buy on the individual market will nearly triple in cost next year, rising from $333 a month to a whopping $965. The insurance carrier blamed Obamacare for the jump.

“This isn’t a Cadillac plan, this isn’t even a silver plan,” Mr. Mangione said, in a reference to higher levels of coverage under Obamacare.

Even the New York Times has finally gotten around to covering the Obamacare crisis.

But the money-losing Old Gray Lady still manages to put a positive spin on the bad news.

Consumers will have to get used to “much tighter, narrower networks” of doctors and hospitals, the paper reports, quoting Adam M. Linker, a health policy analyst at an obscure left-wing pressure group called the North Carolina Justice Center.

“That can be positive for consumers if it holds down premiums and drives people to higher-quality providers,” Linker said in an interview at his office in La-La Land.

Remember that Obamacare was touted, however improbably, as a cost-saving measure.

Then-Sen. Barack Obama vowed in mid-2008 that, “In an Obama administration, we’ll lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year … We’ll do it by the end of my first term as president of the United States.”

Government actuaries openly scoff at this claim. In its first decade, Obamacare will cause health spending to skyrocket by “roughly $621 billion” over and above what Americans would have spent without the imposition of Obamacare. “Between 2014 and 2022, the increase in national health spending (which the Medicare actuaries specifically attribute to the law) amounts to $7,450″ per family of four, according to Forbes magazine.
As it turns out, the average family of 4 has only had to face a relatively modest burden from Obamacare over the past four years—a little over $125. Unfortunately, this year’s average burden ($66) will be 10 times as large in 2014 when Obamacare kicks in for earnest. And it will rise for two years after that, after which it [will] hit a steady-state level of just under $800 a year.
Last week the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight director Gary Cohen refused to give a congressional subcommittee a straight answer when asked if the health insurance exchanges mandated by the Obamacare law will be ready to accept enrollees on Oct. 1, as required.

“Consumers will be able to go online, they’ll be able to get a determination of whatever tax subsidies they’re eligible for, they’ll be able to look at the plans that are available wherever they live, they will be able to see the premium net of subsidy that they would have to pay, and they would be able to choose a plan and enroll in coverage, beginning Oct. 1,” Cohen said in the first round.

The questioner followed up. “Let me rephrase the question: Will the enrollment process be ready on Oct. 1?”

“I have nothing further to add to my answer,” Cohen said.

When asked whether the exchanges will be ready by Jan. 1, 2014, Cohen froze. “Consumers will be able to – it’s the same answer,” Cohen responded.

Despite all this bad news for government-run health care, Democrats continue pimping Obamacare at every opportunity and pretending that everything is okay.

Once it is fully implemented Obamacare will be so wonderful that Americans are “not going to want to let it go,” Democratic National Committee chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said last week.

Not everyone is fooled.

As evidence of the ongoing collapse of Obamacare continues to mount, Cruz ended his 21 hour-plus speech against the hated government program around Noon yesterday, surrounded by a hostile media and enemies in both political parties.

But some Cruz allies did show up. Republican Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), David Vitter (La.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), and Jim Inhofe (Okla.), joined Cruz on the Senate floor to support his bid to defund Obamacare.

Cruz was attacked by erstwhile conservative Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other establishment Republican lawmakers. “Elections have consequences,” McCain said on the Senate floor yesterday as he urged his fellow Republicans to accept his belief that Obamacare is here to stay.

Contrary to conventional Washington wisdom, it can be defunded as long as the Constitution continues to give Congress the power of the purse. Some have pointed out that funds have already been appropriated to implement Obamacare. Those funds can be rescinded.

The bureaucratic infrastructure already created could be easily dismantled and no one would shed a tear — except for the radical left-wingers who backed Obamacare in the first place.

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