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ObamaCare Is Not Inevitable

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By way of a brief review, ObamaCare would not be the law of the land were it not for a series of slimy maneuvers. A number of anti-ObamaCare Senators were defeated by dirty politicking in their attempts to be re-elected. Then, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid negotiated the Cornhusker Kickback and Louisiana Purchase in exchange for votes. After that, Reid forced passage of the bill in the Senate in the eleventh hour before Christmas break. To get around the Constitutional requirement that a revenue-raising bill originate in the House of Representatives, a totally unrelated bill was stripped of its content and replaced with the 2700-word leviathan. The president lied to the American people saying, “If you like your doctor , you can keep your doctor . If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” The Congressional Budget Office incompetently or deceitfully underestimated costs egregiously. Cloture was invoked to suppress debate on a continuing resolution to defund the bill. Justice Roberts ruled what was not a tax was a tax, and so on.

In the days leading to another chance for the Supreme Court to bring down the extra-Constitutional affair known as ObamaCare, Michael Cannon, who has been working nonstop and furiously to defeat the bill, blasted an email spam. In it, he offered for a limited time only free e-copies of Replacing ObamaCare, a compilation of almost 600 pages of articles written by Cato scholars arguing why market solutions and personal empowerment will do more for health and a sound economy than a government power grab. Reading the document is more than highly-recommended, as the public needs to move beyond senseless rhetoric and pipedreams.

The compilation starts with exposing the blind faith people have placed in ObamaCare. The fad began with Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko, which had Americans singing the praises of the Cuban health care system. Moore played up the United States’ 37th ranking in the World Health Report 2000. Moore did not explore what that meant, but Glen Whitman did. He found the ranking was based on five subjective factors. Among criteria earning points for countries were the degree to which government subsidized healthcare and the extent to which it tried to influence lifestyle choices. The WHO’s scoring also favors countries with easy access to contraception. The result was countries where hospital personnel routinely smoke at patients’ bedsides and trash decorates hospital corridors, ranked higher than the US.

Truth be told, countries, or even states, holding government responsible for healthcare are plagued by overutilization of mediocre services. Guaranteed pay and a guaranteed client base offer no incentives for innovation. There is not enough self-deception to believe consumption will not increase when things are free. The United States’ healthcare industry consistently scores low on patient outcomes per dollar spent because this country pours tons into research and development, outpacing the rest of the world combined in some measures of medical invention.

The small percentage of the population without insurance in no way should be overlooked, or their plight minimized. Their needs must be met, but ObamaCare did not approach a valid solution. Cannon indicates ObamaCare is little more than a price control scheme, and as such, it distorts the market with inefficiencies and consequently overpricing. It saw daylight thanks to backroom deals with corporate interests, ones that preferred to protect their bottom line through lobbying rather than innovation. Subsidies were offered. By 2011, 728 waivers were granted. Fifty other organizations’ applications for waivers were denied, but the administration would not release their names. Walmart is on record for supporting the employer mandate because of the negative impact it would have on the competition.

ObamaCare was presented to Congress as covering more citizens with increased costs of only $875 billion over ten years. After reconciliation, the number was boosted to $938 billion. Since many program expenditures would not kick in for four years, the number is more like a six-year total. The total further assumed Medicare reductions that were promised in 2003, but never implemented. No reductions would add another $259-371 billion to the total. “Such sums as may be necessary” for rollout were authorized but not specified. The CBO estimates these could come to $115 billion over ten years. Making matters worse, $398 billion placed in the Medicare trust fund and $53 billion in Social Security were double-counted as being slushed out to the federal government’s general fund and still being held in reserve. All that would bring the total cost closer to $1.5 trillion were it not for unfunded mandates dished out to states, businesses, and individuals for the shouldering. It is widely believed news that the Medicaid responsibility HillaryCare would have shelled off on states would constitute 60 percent of program costs was that endeavor’s final blow. The CBO therefore ignored this dimension of ObamaCare in its tallies. Adding all this together, ObamaCare might cost as much as $7 million ––

Except that federal cost projections tend to be “wildly optimistic.” For example, Medicare Part A was sold as costing $9 billion by 1990. Actual costs were $67 billion. The Medicaid hospital subsidy was supposed to run $100 million by 1992. Instead, it was $11 billion. Medicare home care was expected to cost $4 billion by 1993, but it turned out to cost $10 billion. Helping to raise costs would be increased utilization of “free and reduced” services and the dumping of people from employers’ insurance programs. An internal corporate document urged Verizon leadership to drop its insurance program, as it would be less expensive to pay the ObamaCare penalties. McDonald’s was granted its waiver because without it the large corporation felt compelled to dump its insured. Necessarily, ObamaCare came with a number of additional taxes, mostly of the soak-the-rich type.

As a testament to the haste and lack of consideration that went into writing Obamacare, parts have already been scrapped, exposed as unsustainable. The rest of the bill must go, but not to be replaced with another 2700 pages of legislation and 133,000 pages of Federal Register regulations. Cannon recommends availing better care at better costs by jettisoning existing laws. Standing in the way of healthy market competition and innovation are laws preventing the sale of insurance across state lines, tax codes tying the insured to their employers beyond the useful life of the relationship; and excessive certification requirements. He argues when people become directly responsible for their own healthcare, they will shop around for the best values and negotiate better prices. Providers that want to stay in business will therefore have to become more results-oriented and perpetually search for more and improved products to offer.

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