Kathleen Parker says that we should at least delay the implementation of Obamacare (the major provisions of which kick in October 1). Her reasons provide a good summary of what all is wrong with the program.
●Many companies are cutting worker hours to below the threshold (30 hours) at which they’re required to comply with Obamacare. (SeaWorld is cutting hours for thousands of workers.)
●Others are cutting workers completely to avoid compliance or to reduce costs associated with the expanded coverage. (The Cleveland Clinic cited Obamacare as one reason for offering early retirement to 3,000 workers and hinting at future layoffs.)
●Many young people, unemployed or earning little, will have trouble paying premiums once open enrollment for health insurance exchanges begins Oct. 1. Even discounts won’t be enough for some, who then will face fines or have to turn to parents who face their own insurance challenges. List-price premiums for a 40-year-old buying a mid-range plan will average close to $330 per month, according to a recent Avalere Health study. For someone who is 60, premiums will run about $615 a month. Forget retirement.
One of the most popular aspects of Obamacare has been that children can remain on their parents’ policy until they’re 26, but there’s nothing magical about 27 if you don’t have a job, are still in school or are otherwise dependent. Expect many under-30s to decline to buy insurance, whereupon America’s youth will be under the thumb of the Internal Revenue Service. Remember, the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate to purchase insurance is a tax.
The other most-popular item was the requirement that preexisting conditions not preclude insurance coverage. Under a proposed alternative plan unveiled recently by the Republican Study Committee — the American Health Care Reform Act (H.R. 3121) — this provision would be protected and funded through state-based, high-risk pools and other reform measures.
The biggest concern across all demographics is the likely effect on the larger economy. What happens when so many people lose hours and work and, therefore, income?
Moreover, the law is being applied unfairly and unequally, with exemptions and delays offered to special groups and the brunt of the strain falling directly on middle-class Americans.
Larger employers, for example, have been given a one-year reprieve on fines for leaving workers uncovered. No such grace for individual citizens. The incentives to cut employees and hours prompted three powerful former supporters to write a strong letter of dissent to Democratic leaders. The letter writers, saying the ACA would destroy the backbone of the American middle class and “the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans,” also lamented the falsehood that employees could keep the insurance they like. This is obviously not true, despite Obama’s repeated assurances to the contrary.
The authors were all union leaders, including James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Finally, in a tweak not likely to inspire admiration, the president is offering Congress a break other Americans won’t get. Obamacare requires congressional leaders and staff to enter the exchanges like everyone else, but Obama has offered a special dispensation to soften the blow. Their employer — you — will pay part of the premium, a compensatory option not offered to non-federal employers and their befuddled, underemployed staffs.
Delay may feel like one more Republican strategy, but that doesn’t necessarily make it unwise. If we can delay sending cruise missiles to Syria pending a better solution, perhaps there’s some sense to delaying a health-care overhaul that creates unacceptable collateral damage to citizens and that is not quite ready for public consumption.
The Republican lawmakers trying to defund Obamacare seem to be displaying an ironic belief that the program is going to work. They say that this will be our only chance to kill it, since once it gets going people will become “hooked” on government-mandated insurance. But if it works that well, why kill it at all?
I say, bring it on. I think Obamacare will be an unmitigated disaster. These problems cited by Kathleen Parker are huge, and I can see no way they can be avoided. The travails of Obamacare might put Americans off of intrusive government social programs for a generation and would very likely sweep Republicans back into power.
But maybe I’m wrong and Obamacare will work beautifully and solve all of our health care and even economic problems (as Democrats preposterously claim it will).