Guest ColumnistPassed and signed into law a year ago, the (so called) Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is coming unraveled like a cheap sweater. Everywhere the supporters of ACA turn, they are under assault … from the courts; from Congress; from the states; and in the court of public opinion where nearly every poll shows that repeal of the law is supported by a margin of 50 to 40.
Remember a year ago when then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that we needed to pass the law in order to find out what was in it (outside the noise of political rhetoric)? Well, it’s been a year and nearly everyday, a bitter truth comes to the spotlight – little time bombs that the American people find very troubling, so troubling that it is stalling our economic recovery.
The rebellion against the law is occurring at every level. The law is being challenged in court by 28 (and counting) states where federal district judges have held that the individual mandate (by 2014, everyone is required to buy a health insurance policy or face a stiff penalty) is unconstitutional. Furthermore, some states are not complying with the law, returning money to the feds designed for implementation. This is a modern form of “nullification” where states are refusing to implement a law that they suspect is unconstitutional and regardless, feel will lead to bankruptcy.
There is a provision which permits organizations to receive temporary waiver from the requirements of the law. So far, the Health and Human Services (HHS) department has granted more than a thousand waivers, many going to labor unions. They have even granted a waiver to the entire state of Maine! One of the chief architects of the law, New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, is looking to request a waiver for our nation’s largest city. Why don’t we get a waiver for the whole country? This is dumb!
The thing I find most upsetting about ACA was the process which led to its passage. It was gross. The final vote in the House was 219 to 212. The bill was so partisan that not a single Republican voted in favor and more than forty Democrats voted against it. This is no way to pass such an important and far-reaching piece of legislation. Dozens of House Democrats (including seven term incumbent Allen Boyd) lost reelection and Republicans won a landslide in November primarily because of ACA.
The new House in the 112th Congress has voted to repeal the law by a much larger margin than it passed in the first place. Of course, their vote to repeal is largely symbolic because the Democrat controlled Senate will not repeal and regardless, Obama would veto. Still, when the “People’s House” rejects a law by a larger margin than it originally passed, it is another important sign of just how unpopular this thing is.
The opposition argues that this is “government takeover of healthcare” whereas the supporters of ACA suggest it is not. Who’s right? Let’s look at Massachusetts which has had a similar form of healthcare in effect for six years (remember Romneycare). Governor Deval Patrick is requesting more government control of the market because the program is costing far more than expected. Any surprise? Massachusetts Healthcare is the “canary in the mineshaft.” This is what we can expect from Obamacare: citizens losing coverage; more pressure on the government provided pools; escalating costs; and eventually, a single payer, government controlled healthcare system, ala Great Britain. The camel has his nose under the tent!
Do you recall when this debate was raging last year and repeatedly, the President said we needed this program to “bend the cost curve downward?” That’s a laugher. Obamacare was never, repeat never about cost containment. That was a ruse, a lie intended to divert our attention from the real objective, extending coverage to another 30 million voters/people.
Rather than fix the ailing Medicare/Medicaid programs, the Democrats decided to add 30 million more to the rolls, further stressing the system. In my opinion, this was political malfeasance of the first order.
I can never recall a situation like this where a new law is so unpopular and is being challenged on every front. Maybe that was true with the Great Society legislation in the mid-1960s before I became politically aware, but I don’t think so. All of this dissension and turmoil was so unnecessary. If Obama was truly the bipartisan leader he advertised in the 2008 election, he would have sought a bipartisan cost containment program that could easily have reached 350 votes in the House of Representatives. It was an opportunity lost and as a result, we have an unmitigated mess to clean up.