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!”
“The new health care law specifically targets reimbursement for new drugs and devices as a way to save money in programs like Medicare and Medicaid. These savings, in turn, are used to pay for new health coverage for the uninsured. But the legislation doesn’t take down drug and medical device prices directly. Rather, it creates a series of new agencies, boards, and authorities that separately will be empowered to construct new rules to impact how medical products are priced, as well as to restrict their use by defining when and if products are covered by insurance.”
ObamaCare is so politically radioactive, even Democratic Congressmen are recoiling from it. “Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) said this week that Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) handling of healthcare reform was the last straw influencing his decision to oppose her as speaker if the Democrats keep control of the House. “
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.”
“According to the Kaiser Family Foundation October Tracking Poll out Monday morning, overall support for the law has dropped to 42 percent – down seven points in a month. The percentage of those saying they have an unfavorable view of the bill rose four points to 44 percent.”
The Washington Post performed a “fact check” on claims about the new health law. Many of their conclusions were less than factually based.
“We investigated what would happen to the estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, the official scorekeeping arm of Congress charged with analyzing the budget implications of legislative proposals, if different assumptions were made about how the health overhaul will work.”
“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.”
“Public support for healthcare reform ticked downward in October, suffering from an especially negative opinion among likely voters. Almost half of likely voters in next month’s elections said they have an unfavorable view of Democrats’ signature legislation — a more negative take on healthcare reform than the general public.”
“The president’s health-reform law is almost seven months old, and it’s already threatening thousands of Americans’ ability to access affordable health insurance.”