2012-10-06 / Editorials & Letters

The Case for a New President: Obamacare

Absentee voting started this week in the most critical presidential election in at least a generation. Most of us are worse off than we were four years ago. And four years ago, we were in the midst of a recession considered the worst since the Great Depression. Today more people receive food stamps than ever before and more are living below the poverty line since it was first set.

It’s scarey to think that things can fall further, but they will if our president is reelected. His reelection would allow Obamacare to be fully implemented. That will have drastic ramifications far beyond another four year term.

Rather than focusing on getting the economy going again, President Obama decided to push a massive government expansion through Congress. Provisions were generally drafted in secret and Obamacare was approved without one Republican vote. As then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously said, “But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it....”

Some of the more popular provisions such as prohibiting lifetime coverage limits, providing coverage for pre-existing conditions and requiring insurance plans to cover children up to age 26, went into effect the same year (2010) it was enacted. The more onerous provisions such as most of the new taxes and the mandates on employers and individuals were conveniently delayed until after Obama’s next election – taxes in 2013 and the mandates in 2014.

Opinion polls this year continue to show that more of us oppose Obamacare than support it and with good reason. We’ve learned that the promises that we could keep our health insurance if we wanted to and that it would cost less are not true. The claims that millions currently without health insurance could get coverage while overall costs declined never made sense.

Even Democrats, who totally controlled Congress in 2009 and 2010, couldn’t stomach a transparent single payer national health insurance program. Instead they come up with a system that puts health insurance companies in a vise – expanded coverage coupled with price controls and new taxes. When it collapses as designed, the only option will be a full government takeover and total government control over our healthcare.

“Free” healthcare will come at a tremendous cost – new taxes, a slow growth economy (fewer opportunities for our children and grandchildren), much longer waits for specialists and medical rationing as costs soar.

For example, don’t count on getting a knee, hip or shoulder replacement when you need it. Obamacare’s 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board will determine whether you qualify for specific medical procedures. Expect age limits to be set and limits on the number of procedures per year which will create the long waits commonplace in Canada and Great Britain. The Board’s decisions can only be overruled by a supermajority vote of Congress.

Rationing is what happens when you increase the demand for services (more people insured) without increasing the supply (number of physicians, medical facilities). Physicians are rebelling at doing more for less and new computer-driven scrutiny of every treatment decision. Some of our best and brightest who once aspired to be doctors are picking non-medical careers because they don’t want a government bureaucrat constantly looking over their shoulder. Ask your doctor if he or she enjoys being a doctor as much now as opposed to 10-20 years ago. Most will likely answer “no.” Working conditions will be getting worse for them.

Our current healthcare system isn’t perfect. But it can be improved without turning it completely over to government. Nothing government ever does costs less or is done more efficiently!

Commonsense improvements include: Allowing health insurance plans to be sold nationwide, rather than state by state based on that state’s coverage mandates; limits on medical liability suits to reduce CYA expenditures and reduce doctor defections from some specialities; linking insurance plans to individuals rather than employers so you can change jobs without changing insurance; and premium support for those who can’t afford insurance.

Far too many of us pay nothing or very little (5-20 percent) directly for our health insurance. In turn, we aren’t good medical consumers. We don’t question costs or treatments since our perceived financial stake is so little. Who cares once an annual deductible is met? We don’t eat steak or lobster every night. Not every ache or pain or sniffle needs immediate medical attention. We need to have some “skin in the game” so we make medical care decisions with some consideration for cost. We can either make those decisions ourselves or let government make them for us. Our health depends on which course we choose!

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