The sweeping health care financing overhaul known as Obamacare is proving to be a pivotal moment in American politics and a seminal turning point within the political culture in America, but not in ways its proponents had imagined.
Galen Institute’s Grace-Marie Turner has written a quick summary of the drip, drip, drip of news and information made available to the public AFTER Congress voted on the plan.
Americans consistently said controlling health costs was their top priority for health reform. But Washington didn’t listen, and independent experts now say the new health law actually will drive up the cost of health care and insurance premiums.
Federal and state governments as well as businesses, consumers and taxpayers are finding they cannot afford this massive and unpopular health overhaul law.
The Congressional Budget Office recently issued a revised estimate showing the law will cost $115 billion more than it projected the week before it was enacted. That puts the CBO’s initial price tag at $1 trillion, still a conservative estimate that is based upon unrealistically high assumptions about cuts in Medicare spending and unrealistically low assumptions about the cost of the new law.
Further, the CBO says that preventive care and pilot projects designed to modernize care delivery, while important, are unlikely to reduce costs and may actually increase health spending.
A report by the Obama administration’s own actuary, issued a month after Congress passed the reform legislation, showed it will increase federal health spending by $311 billion over the next decade and likely much more.
The chief actuary for the administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Richard Foster, also predicts higher health insurance premiums for individuals and businesses.
One reason is the billions of dollars in new fees and excise taxes the law imposes that Foster says will “generally be passed through to health consumers in the form of higher drug and devices prices and higher premiums.” These include more than $20 billion in taxes on medical devices, $60 billion in taxes on health plans, and $27 billion in taxes on prescription drug companies.
Foster’s report also highlights the shaky financial footing of the new long-term care insurance program – the CLASS Act, which Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., has described as “a Ponzi scheme of the first order.” Foster says the program faces “a significant risk of failure” and finds the program will result “in a net federal cost in the long-term.”
The CBO estimates that individuals and businesses also will face at least $120 billion in fines and penalties for failing to comply with the law’s new health insurance mandates. And it says families purchasing health insurance in the individual market will pay $2,100 a year more for coverage by 2016 than they would had the measure not passed.
States also fear a flood of red ink. Indiana has released a study showing that the health overhaul law could cost the state an additional $3.6 billion over 10 years – money that Hoosiers don’t want to spend for a law that polls show they strongly oppose.
And major companies also face tax hits, fines and huge risks. Large, publicly traded companies have issued reports showing reduced earnings as a result of tax changes.
However, proponents have been quick to argue that there are broad tax cuts and incentives for small businesses that will ease the pain!
Ah, not so much.
As the AP reports:
When the administration unveiled the small business tax credit earlier this week, officials touted its “broad eligibility” for companies with fewer than 25 workers and average annual wages under $50,000 that provide health coverage. Hoffman’s workers earn an average of $35,000 a year, which makes it all the more difficult to understand why his company didn’t qualify.
Lost in the fine print: The credit drops off sharply once a company gets above 10 workers and $25,000 average annual wages.
It’s an example of how the early provisions of the health care law can create winners and losers among groups lawmakers intended to help—people with health problems, families with young adult children and small businesses. Because of the law’s complexity, not everyone in a broadly similar situation will benefit.
(Note: Small business owners can go to the NFIB website and use their online calculator to see just how much ‘help’ they could receive from the government.)
In Wisconsin, Republican congressmen Paul Ryan and Jim Sensenbrenner discuss a ‘Repeal and Replace” strategy regarding the health care financing overhaul. US Senate Candidate Ron Johnson said Obamacare’s passage was the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ that inspired his involvement in both the Tea Party movement and electoral politics. The Left continues to belittle those who push repeal, mocking their efforts as right-wing folly at best, and economically-devastating at worse. However, it is undeniable that the more the public knows about what was really in the health care bill, the less we like it.
It is clear that Sensenbrenner, Ryan, Johnson and others who favor repeal are not alone.
According to Rasmussen Reports:
Support for repeal of the new national health care plan has jumped to its highest level ever. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 63% of U.S. voters now favor repeal of the plan passed by congressional Democrats and signed into law by President Obama in March.
Prior to today, weekly polling had shown support for repeal ranging from 54% to 58%.
Currently, just 32% oppose repeal.
The new findings include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal of the health care bill and 25% who Strongly Oppose it.
While opposition to the bill has remained as consistent since its passage as it was beforehand, this marks the first time that support for repeal has climbed into the 60s. It will be interesting to see whether this marks a brief bounce or indicates a trend of growing opposition.
Thirty-three percent (33%) of voters now believe the health care plan will be good for the country, down six points from a week ago and the lowest level of confidence in the plan to date. Fifty-five percent (55%) say it will be bad for the nation. Only three percent (3%) think it will have no impact.
The Political Class continues to be a strong supporter of the plan, however. While 67% of Mainstream voters believe the plan will be bad for America, 77% of the Political Class disagree and think it be good for the country.
The Tea Party movement is a tangible symbol of the chasm between the general public and the political class. Supporters of the behemoth health care plan are siding with the political class. Those who voice support for repeal are siding with the more broad general public.
If I were an elected offiical, or perhaps more significant, a candidate this fall, I know in whose hands I would want to place my fate.
By Brain Fraley
A MacIver Institute Perspective