Trying to pick the worst aspect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a daunting task. There isn’t enough space in one article even to list all of its problematical aspects, but let’s mention several.
Surely, it’s sad to see the growing number of American hourly workers whose employers are cutting their hours to less than thirty per week to avoid triggering Obamacare expenses. Another bummer is that millions of Americans are finding—surprise!—that their health insurance premiums are rising smartly, despite Obama’s campaign promises that this wouldn’t happen.
I suspect that many voters are really ticked that Obama has colluded with Congress to exempt them and their high-income staffs from Obamacare. This brazen double standard—government officials being exempt from the very laws that they impose on citizens—is an egregious departure from the principles of American government.
Also worrisome is the noticeable increase in physicians planning to take early retirement. Doctors don’t want to deal with the oppressive bureaucratic heavy-handedness of Obamacare. Who can be happy about a healthcare-related law that shrinks the number of practicing physicians, thereby making health care less available?
While Obamacare is shrinking both the number of practicing physicians and the work weeks of many Americans, we must acknowledge that this law has some positive impacts on employment, too. The law calls for hiring 16,500 additional IRS agents and as many as 40,000 additional federal employees to manage the mountains of Obamacare-related paperwork. Golly, doesn’t that make you feel healthier already?
We should all feel uneasy about the arbitrariness inherent in the language of the law and in Obama’s implementation of it. Hardly a week goes by without the president unilaterally announcing that he has suspended this or that provision of the PPACA. And in regard to whatever parts of the law actually do take effect, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will have discretionary authority to determine what hundreds of ambiguous phrases in the law actually mean.
One of the least popular provisions of Obamacare involves the so-called death panels. Despite Team Obama’s vigorous denunciations of such a characterization of the Independent Payment Advisory Board that will handle the unpleasant task of rationing health care resources, but what else would you call an unaccountable, unelected panel whose budgetary mandate inevitably will lead to decisions to withhold treatments from patients who consequently will die? It may take awhile for IPAB to “advance” as far as its United Kingdom counterpart whose decisions to withhold care, according to some reports, are responsible for close to one-sixth of all deaths there.
In case you think that Team Obama is too compassionate to let such cold-blooded calculations enter into public policy, you should recall the administration’s policy towards Honduras about three years ago. The Honduran Congress and Supreme Court, acting in accordance with the clear language of their country’s constitution, removed from office President Manuel Zelaya. It turns out that Zelaya, apparently aspiring to be the next Castro or Chavez in Latin America, was organizing a campaign to rewrite the constitution to pave the way for him becoming “president for life.” Zelaya told Hondurans that those who refused to sign his petition would be denied access to government-funded health care. Obama, Clinton, and the rest of the administration energetically backed this monster. Do we really want such people to control American health care?
Another troublesome aspect of the PPACA is how it already has warped our own constitution with the complicity of the Supreme Court. I am referring, of course, to Chief Justice John Roberts’ astounding Supreme Court decision a few months ago, in which he affirmed Obamacare in such a way as to pave the way for the federal government to use its taxing power to exert evermore control over our economic life.
Indeed, the implementation of Obamacare has ridden roughshod over the very concept of the rule of law. Avik Roy’s Forbes blog on August 18 revealed the existence of an unpublished Congressional Research Service study showing that Team Obama already has missed half of the 82 explicit deadlines stipulated in the Affordable Care Act. Once again we see an ugly double standard: Government officials that fail to meet legal deadlines get a free pass, but private individuals or businesses that miss such deadlines are penalized, often quite severely.
Another glaring defect of Obamacare is that those who apply for Obamacare subsidies will not have to provide documentation of their income, other health insurance options, and other information that influence how much of a federal subsidy they qualify for. HHS bureaucrats will simply take them at their word. The Wall Street Journal astutely compared this policy to the “no-doc liar loans” that helped to inflate the housing bubble in the previous decade. How much do you want to bet that many of these “helpful” bureaucrats will be ACORN retreads and Democratic partisans?
Investors Business Daily has been all over several disturbing developments that recently have come to light. Government employees, called “navigators,” will steer people into what supposedly will be the best decisions regarding their health care insurance. I have a close friend who is an insurance agent, and I know how hard he has to study to pass rigorous examinations demonstrating extensive, thorough understanding of an insurance product before he is licensed to sell it. Obamacare’s navigators, by contrast, will have Mickey Mouse training before they are turned lose to “help” you.
Another problem with the Obamacare navigators is that they will have access to all sorts of personal, confidential information about the citizens they interview, but because Team Obama is in a hurry to get the ball rolling, they have waived criminal background checks for these workers. Combined with the fact that Obamacare is moving full speed ahead on mining huge amounts of such data, and that the “Hub” where all this information will be stored has not been tested for security, it could be that Obamacare will prove to be a bonanza for identity thieves and computer hackers.
It’s time to bring this to a close with my own choice for the worst aspect of Obamacare. While all of the above-mentioned aspects of the PPACA are disturbing, the most pernicious effect is all the brouhaha and confusion that Obamacare has caused. Why? Because Obamacare has been one gigantic distraction that has kept us from addressing the most crucial economic issue of all—the ticking fiscal time bomb that is Medicare and Medicaid. Federal spending on health care is projected to more than double from approximately $771 billion this year to $1.59 trillion in 2023—a mere ten years away. While we fuss and dither over Obamacare (which itself would add another $200 billion to annual federal health care spending) Medicare and Medicaid expenditures continue to soar, speeding us to the fiscal train wreck that will put the big hurt on us all.
That’s just my take on it. Feel free to enter your choice for the worst aspect of Obamacare under “Comments” up by the title of this article.
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