GOP needs Rx for ObamaCare woes
STEVE HUNTLEY firstname.lastname@example.org April 11, 2011 6:02PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
For sure, the liberal advocates of ObamaCare never saw this one coming: Abortion foes are using the law to try to restrict abortion coverage in private insurance plans under the new health insurance exchanges set up by the law. Eight states have passed a ban on abortion coverage for any private plan taking part in an exchange, and according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 20 more are considering such restrictions.
Nor did the advocates foresee this one: A well-paid professional athlete now locked out in a labor dispute between players and the National Football League looks to cash in on ObamaCare’s provision allowing adults up to 26 years old to be on their parents’ insurance. “Man, this is awesome,” Craig Steltz, 24, who made $475,000 last year with the Chicago Bears, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I’m a professional athlete, and I am getting on my parents’ insurance.”
Or this one: Offering insurance to people with pre-existing conditions was supposed to be a hallmark of the new law. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projected 375,000 people would sign up for the high-risk pools by the end of 2010. Only 12,500 did.
The unintended consequences of the most far-reaching expansion of government authority in American lives in a generation keep piling up.
The law’s ban against insurers that sell child-only plans from considering pre-existing conditions has caused insurance firms in 34 states to stop selling child-only policies, according to a survey by Republican staff in the U.S. Senate.
More than 1,000 health plans covering 2.6 million people have sought and received waivers from ObamaCare’s coverage requirements because they couldn’t afford the standards. It was either grant the exemptions or see premiums rise dramatically or benefits reduced.
Insurance firms in Oregon, Wisconsin and North Carolina cite the law’s benefit mandates as a factor in their double-digit rate increases. The Affordable Care Act was supposed to bend the cost curve down.
The Congressional Budget Office says the 10-year cost of the act’s health insurance subsidies have increased over the original estimate by 8.6 percent to $1.13 trillion.
Funding the law are 18 tax increases collecting $500 billion by 2019, according to an analysis by the Heritage Foundation. Some of the taxes, on investments, are aimed at couples earning more $250,000 a year — the rich, according to liberals, but many of them job creators and investors. Other taxes, like the ones on “Cadillac” health insurance plans, medical devices and tanning salons, and limits on health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts hit the middle class.
More bad news is still to come. Business penalties for not providing health insurance are less than the cost of coverage, a fact sure to lead firms to unload millions of workers into the health exchanges despite ObamaCare’s promise no one would lose insurance they like. Mandates to cover the uninsured through Medicaid threaten to impose new costs on states already staggering under that program’s red ink.
Given that litany of woes, it’s no wonder Americans don’t like ObamaCare any more than when it passed a year ago. By a 44 percent to 39 percent margin, Americans believe the law will make health care worse, according to Gallup. A Rasmussen Reports poll finds that 58 percent of likely voters want the law repealed, with 46 percent strongly in favor of junking it. Once a big supporter, Starbucks boss Howard Schultz told the Seattle Times that the law’s requirements put “too great” a pressure on small businesses.
The law figures to be a major issue in next year’s presidential election. For it to be a winning issue, Republicans can’t just call for repeal. They have to come up with an alternative that is more appealing and easier to explain than the confusing 2,000-page ObamaCare and its load of unintended and economically harmful consequences.