ObamaCare’s impact on health costs.
Many embattled House Democrats who voted to pass ObamaCare just seven months ago no doubt wish they had listened to the American people rather than to their leadership and said “No!” to the massive health overhaul law.
If a Democrat boasts about voting Yes, it is such a rarity that it makes news. In all but a very few races, support for the law is a huge liability on the campaign trail.
Nervous Democrats are defensively asking voters to give them another chance so they can fix it and get it right this time. It would be something of an understatement to say that most voters are disinclined to do that.
There will be huge political consequences for slamming such a massive change into law – one that will directly affect virtually every American and every corner of the health sector.
Here are the top 10 reasons the health law is unraveling:
- State pushback: State opposition is building and will become more intense next year. About 10 states, led by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, are talking about forming a unified front to oppose the law’s mandates. And up to 25 new governors will be elected on Nov. 2, most facing huge budget pressures and most with no intention of falling into line to implement a law many actively campaigned against.
- Voter rejection: Three states — Oklahoma, Arizona, and Colorado — have ballot initiatives before the voters in November, all repudiating the health law. Passage will give even more impetus to proponents of repeal, following the 71% vote against the law in Missouri in August.
- Lawsuits: There are at least 15 lawsuits against the law, and the two largest moved forward in the last week. Two federal judges have said that there is enough substance to the constitutional questions to allow the challenges to proceed. Arguments were heard in Virginia on Monday and are scheduled for December in Florida. The suits are marching toward the U.S. Supreme Court, likely in 2012-2013.
Backers of the health law are concerned that if the individual mandate is declared unconstitutional, the court will strip out everything that wouldn’t have passed without the mandate. That would surely include insurance “reforms” but possibly hundreds of billions of dollars in insurance subsidies.
- Rising costs: Health insurance costs already are rising as a result of the law, and the pressures will intensify. Boeing is the latest company to tell its 90,000 employees that it plans to increase the price of employee health insurance for its non-union workforce over the next few years in response to rapidly rising insurance costs, at least partly because of the health law.
- Towering deficits: Gov. Philip Bredesen, Democrat of Tennessee, warned in a Wall Street Journal commentary Thursday that the health overhaul law creates strong incentives for employers to drop health coverage. This would dramatically increase the cost for taxpayers, as former Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Holtz-Eakin of American Action Forum has explained. Congress may find it is essential to ask the CBO to recalculate the actual cost of the health overhaul law to protect taxpayers from an even larger wave of red ink.
- Seniors hit hard: Medicare Actuary Rick Foster confirmed that the health overhaul law will result in “less generous benefits packages” for seniors on the popular Medicare Advantage program and that the coverage will cost them more. Foster estimates seniors’ costs will go up by $346 in 2011 and as much as $923 by 2017.
- Millions losing coverage: The Principal Group announced it plans to drop health coverage for 840,000 policyholders; millions of seniors will lose Medicare Advantage plans; child-only policies already are vanishing from the market because of HHS rules; retirees are losing supplemental coverage; and major employers such as AT&T, Caterpillar, John Deere, Verizon, and countless others are considering dropping health benefits over the mid- to long-term.
- Job-killing mandates: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that nearly eight in 10 small business leaders expect their costs to increase as a result of the new law. Many are fearful of the impact of new health insurance mandates, and the majority say they will be less likely to hire new employees and more likely to reduce current benefits.
- Searching for the exits: The McDonald’s waiver shows that companies have to be protected against the law to avoid its damage; dozens more waivers have been granted so a million people didn’t lose their mini-med coverage just before the election. The Wall Street Journal asked, “Wouldn’t it be better to write less destructive rules in the first place? Or why not give everyone a waiver from everything?”
- Reduced quality, higher costs: A Wall Street Journal poll last week found that a majority of voters believe the new law will cause them to get lower quality care, pay more in insurance premiums or taxes, or both. A plurality favors repeal, and those who know most about the law favor repeal by more than two to one.
If Republicans capture the House on November 2, expect dozens of hearings to point out the many problems we already are seeing with the law — from driving up costs, to causing millions of people to “lose the coverage they have today,” to massive new deficit spending on new entitlement programs, to budget-busting Medicaid mandates.
As Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said at a briefing about the overhaul law, “This cannot stand!”
ObamaCare’s deficit reductions are unlikely to pan out, and the tax hikes will be worse than anticipated when you account for their economic effects. “Indeed, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is chock full of tax hikes. And those taxes will cost more than you might think.”
The Washington Post performed a “fact check” on claims about the new health law. Many of their conclusions were less than factually based.
“Right now we’re estimating the cost of the minimum benefit package that everyone will be required to have at $4,750 for individuals and $12,250 for families… That translates into a minimum health benefit of $2.28 an hour for full time workers (individual coverage) and $5.89 an hour (family coverage) for fulltime employees.”
“What percentage of premium revenue should health insurance companies spend on clinical services? Thanks to the new health care law, that’s for the federal government to decide.”
This study analyzes the different mandates each state imposes on its insurance market and determines the added costs of each. ObamaCare includes several of these coverage mandates, like ‘guaranteed issue,’ which will have driven up costs in states which have tried them, and will drive up costs nation-wide as well.
“This change works well as part of an incrementalist strategy to destroy the private insurance market–especially patient-driven healthcare. I realize that may sound cynical. But the far left has made no secrets about its desire to create a single-payer system and to use a strategy of patient trench warfare (no pun) to create it. Obamacare was a major advance towards that end and, tactically, the eventual destruction of HSAs must figure in to said strategy.”
“A Medicare official concedes that seniors may have to dig deeper into their wallets next year thanks to the health care law. The new analysis obtained by POLITICO finds the health care overhaul will result in increased out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare Advantage plans. Richard Foster, the actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, also tells Senate Republicans that the overhaul will result in ‘less generous benefit packages’ for Medicare Advantage plans next year. Foster is independent from the administration and non-partisan.”
“Now, six months after passage, there is no longer any credible, coherent argument that the law will make healthcare more affordable for small business – now, next year, or anytime in the foreseeable future. The evidence runs strongly in the other direction – that passage of the law will increase the costs for small business. The PPACA creates a maze of new costs – direct and indirect – as well as layer-upon-layer of uncertainty.”
“So here’s the bottom line: The new health reform law does have three notable cost-control mechanisms — two of which are very aggressive. None of the three, however, are likely to achieve their objective.”