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ObamaCare: more bitter pills, no relief.

ITEM: The Associated Press reported on January 6: "The Obama administration defended the health care overhaul in filing Friday with the Supreme Court that calls the law an appropriate response to a 'crisis in the national health care market.' ... The government called on the court to uphold the core requirement that individuals buy insurance or pay a penalty."

The Obama administration says the mandate "requirement falls within Congress" power under the Constitution 's Commerce Clause because health care is an issue of supreme national importance that consumes nearly 18 percent (4 the U.S. economy People may lack insurance, but they still get health care, and the costs get passed on [to] the Insured, the administration said."

ITEM: In the Washington Post for January 5, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen sebelius writes: "The rising cost of health insurance coverage has imposed a heavy burden on our nation. Over the past decade, insurance premiums for working families have grown three times faster than have wages. Small businesses have seen health care become one of their biggest operating expenses." She continues: "One of the major reasons we passed the Affordable Care Act was to bring down costs, something the health-care law does in three ways: by in - creasing insurance-market competition, assisting those who can't afford coverage, and tackling the underlying cost of medical care."

CORRECTION: Having created a monstrous system that, driven by mandates and handouts from Washington, chews up about a sixth of the gross domestic product and costs the average family about $15,000 per year for health insurance coverage, the top health bureaucrat must have an enormous amount of gall. After all, she suggests that the healthcare solution for the United States is even larger entitlements and subsidies, the imposition of additional federal price controls. and more government regulations.

Perhaps the Health Secretary thinks that laughter is the best medicine, because that is an absolute hoot.

For political reasons, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010--known more commonly as ObamaCare--was front-loaded with benefits and back-loaded with costs, the latter designed to come after Barack Osama's reelection. Nevertheless, the over-reaching legislation has already started having a negative impact, which only will go further downhill unless it is repealed. The first seven years after the full implementation of the legislation will add a whopping $1.36 trillion to the National Debt, according to a new study by the Congressional Budget Office, which is hardly an enclave of conservative, free marketeers.

That's just part of the pain. As analyst Michael Tanner put it in the New York Post:
 Not only has ObamaCare failed to slow premium growth, but at
 least 2 percentage points of [the 9 percent jump in 20111 is
 directly attributable to the health-care law's provisions.

 ObamaCare is also already reducing our health-insurance choices.
 The new law has already driven a number of insurance companies
 out of the market, meaning there will be less competition and
 fewer choices.

 Moreover, the new law has already cut back on flexible-spending
 accounts used by some 30 million workers, slashing permissible
 contributions in half and limiting what account funds can be
 used to pay for.

 And just released regulations from HHS may well eliminate most
 health savings accounts, affecting another 10 million workers and
 their families. And, of course, once the individual mandate kicks
 in, in 2014, assuming it's not struck down by the Supreme Court, all
 of us will have to purchase a government-designed insurance plan, even
 if it is more expensive or contains benedicts that we don't want.


Few Americans are yet aware of it, but the new law places a cap on a program that did provide some relief to taxpayers. The pretax Flexible Spending Account is being reduced to $2,500 in 2013--which is less than the cost of braces for a child's teeth, as more than one observer has noted.

At the same time, those who already' have the most healthcare expenses will be hit even harder: The threshold for itemized federal tax deductions for medical expenses will be pushed from 7.5 percent all the way to 10 percent. Thank your friendly welfare-state politicians for taking that out of your pockets.

Soon, points out columnist Bruce Bla1osky the "oppressive cost of Obamacare" will really start to kick in. "Every W-2 will have to include the amount of money paid out in health care benefits. a requirement that will entail extensive administrative costs. The reason for this mandate is still somewhat of a mystery, but we can guess that a bunch of new federal bureaucrats will be using this information to further invade our lives and tell us what to do. Then in 2013. right after the 're-election of Obama.' the new taxes take effect--just as all the pane is and torn--missions start to decide and control every aspect of our health care."

There seems to he little that the 20O0-plus-page law doesn't attempt to cover. Accordingly. one Roman Catholic school, Belmont Abbey College, has sued the government for violating its religious freedoms by forcing the college to purchase contraceptives for its students. The school specifically cites an HHS ruling that outlaws any insurance plans that fail to cover all the costs of all contraceptives. including abortifacients.

One might conclude that the govern--merit's promised assistance has run afoul of the law of unintended consequences--except for the fact that it was entirely predictable and no doubt intended by those who favor outright socialized medicine. A survey of some 1 300 American companies this past summer found that 30 percent would definitely or probably drop their health coverage if OhamaCare were to be completely implemented.

Simi1arly. when 0bamaCare added a requirement that those insurance companies that were providing plans just to children must offer coverage without consideration of pre-existing conditions, insurance firms in at least 34 states dropped their plans altogether. as has been noted in a Heritage Foundation study. Heritage also pointed out that now 20 states "no longer have child--only plans sold in their insurance marketplaces."

With millions of Americans out of work, the government is also making it harder on would-be employers to grow. John Stossel, host of a show on Fox Business network, recaps what successful businessmen told him about sonic of the. consequences of ObamaCare:
 John Allison, former CEO of BB&T. the 12th biggest bank in America.
 pointed out how Obamacare encourages employers not to insure their
 employees. Under the law, an employer would he fined for that. But the
 penalty at present--about $2,OOO--is lower than the cost of a

 "What that means is in theory every company ought to dump their plan
 on the government plan and pay the penalty," lie said. 'So 'you don't
 really know what the cost is because it's designed to fail."

 Of course, then every employee would turn to the government-
 subsidized health insurance. Maybe that was the central planners'
 intention all along.

 An owner of 12 IHOPS told me that he can't expand his business
 because he can't afford the burden of Obamacare. Many of his
 waitresses work part time or change jobs every few months. He hadn't
 been insuring them, but Obamacare requires him to. He says
 he can't make money paying a $2,000 penalty for every waitress, so
 he's cancelled his plans to expand. 1ts one more reason why job growth
 hasn't picked up post-recession

In the old clays, Economics 1 01 taught that if you wanted less of something. you taxed it; if you wanted more of something, you suhsidi7.ed it. OhamaCare will stimulate demand by adding millions of Americans to the rolls of those with sub-sidized insurance. Simultaneously. it will be a disincentive to economic growth. There are, by one count. 2 new or higher taxes in the legislation, and only eight have kicked in thus far. These additional taxes, points olla a spokesman for Wagnerians for Tax Reform, will increase the costs of healthcare. trigger a significant loss of jobs, and restrict the options that Americans have had in the matter of their own treatments.


Then there is the "free-rider" problem that ObamaCare presumes to address, which tries to deal with the fact that some people don't have insurance hut can still receive tax payer-funded treatments. This is, unsurprisingly, a side effect of previous government actions that essentially require hospitals to treat everyone without any compensation.

There are a n u m her of ways to hand 1 e this well short of the federal takeover envisioned by OhamaCare. John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis. for example, has outlined a much simpler method with tax credits that would provide more equitable treatment. Glen Whitman. an economics professor at California State University, Northridge, also has offered a straightforward approach that could get rid of or mitigate the consequences of previous mandates that have made insurance premiums so expensive.

Those states that desire to assist the uninsured. Whitman has suggested,
 ought to repeal some or all of their mandated benefit laws, allowing
 firms to offer low-priced catastrophic care policies to their
 customers. If special-interest pressures hamper this solution, the
 federal government could assist by using its power--under the
 Constitution's interstate commerce clause--to guarantee customers
 the right to buy insurance policies offered in any state, not just
 their own. That would enable patients to patronize firms in states
 with fewer costly mandates. As an added bonus, state legislatures
 might feel pressure to ease regulations to attract more insurance
 business from out-of-state customers. Removing mandates would do
 far more to

It is possible that the Supreme Court might strike down some or all of ObamaCare this summer. But depending on a slim number of justices to rescue us from the excesses of the executive and legislative branches is a risky proposition. The country needs lawmakers (and Presidents) who will abide by the strictures of the Constitution. Writing in National Affairs, Professor Eric Claeys, of the George Mason University School of points out that opponents of ObamaCare should be trying to create a coalition determined to repeal the legislation. with such opponents asking:
 How can Obamacare claim to "regulate" interstate "commerce" when the
 act mandates that citizens purchase a service they do not want to buy?
 How can Obamacare claim to be "proper" under the necessary and proper
 clause when it bloats and constipates the national government? And how
 is it "proper" to divert regulation of health care and insurance from
 the state and local governments that are more accountable and

Americans need to realize the underlying premise that is important--the struggle between government power and individual liberty. We used to mock the Soviet Union, of which it was said that everything that wasn't mandatory was forbidden. Yet, in the land of the free, the government has taken upon itself the power to require Americans to make a specific commercial purchase--using the excuse that it was done for our own good.

Once that precedent is set, is there anything that the government could not "legally" make us buy? Indeed, it seems reasonable to conclude from her answers at her confirmation hearings that Justice Elena Kagan would deem constitutional a mandate to eat broccoli.

One thing that ObamaCare hasn't spent money on is something that it promised to do--fixing the so-called sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula used to pay doctors in the Medicare system. The government, as it happens, is better at making others do what they are told, as opposed to doing what it has pledged.

In a piece in Virtual Mentor, a journal of the American Medical Association, Michael Cannon notes that "congressional Democrats promised the American Medical Association et alias a permanent SGR fix in return for supporting ObamaCare. That was two years ago. Reports that the deal included a bridge in Brooklyn have not been confirmed."

ObamaCare reinforces the systems of price controls that have not worked throughout human history, and federalizes and centralizes more personal decisions--all while driving up costs and making any real future corrective that much more difficult to achieve. This is being done on purpose. As one CBS News correspondent put it not long ago--happily, mind you--aspects of ObamaCare could be considered a '4success" because "the more people come to depend on healthcare reform ... the tougher it will be to repeal it."

About 40 cents of every dollar the government spends is borrowed, and last year's budget deficit was about $1 .3 trillion. Yet, these are the very bungling jesters who fancy themselves to he adept enough to run the healthcare system for the entire United States of America. Their promises are sugary enough to give you diabetes, hut the results are enough to drive your blood pressure off the charts.

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Title Annotation:correction, please!
Author:Hoar, William P.
Publication:The New American
Date:Feb 6, 2012
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