Fixing the failure

Replacing monstrous Obamacare must not be done hastily

How soon they forget.

 

Like passengers complaining about leaving a sinking ship, some citizens in the middle of our nation’s health care debate fear dire consequences of Obamacare being taken away.

It took a listening session with President Trump at the White House on Monday to give Americans a refresher course in precisely why Obamacare needs to be taken away.

Because Obamacare is failing.

Or has failed, to use the past tense in a Chicago Tribune editorial last September, unapologetically titled “Why Obamacare failed.” We’ll get to that point-by-point takedown shortly.

But on Monday the Trump administration heard stories from the front lines. Overwhelmed Americans sat with the president to tell him, and remind the media, what the Orwellian-named Affordable Care Act wrought after being signed into law in 2010.

“Our rates are three times what they were before Obamacare started. We have one provider in the county,” said Carrie Couey of Colorado. “We have very little options for what we can and cannot do. We are a small business, but we aren’t brick-and-mortar. We are cattle ranchers. We can’t afford our equipment anymore if we’re paying these rates year after year after year. Our food source is in jeopardy because of this health care law.”

Closer to home is Brittany Ivey of Toccoa, Ga. She has said her premiums under a mid-level Obamacare plan devoured 65 percent of her monthly gross income – and that was after getting a federal subsidy. Neither her doctor nor her children’s doctors even accepted the plan.

“It’s been hard,” Ivey said. “It’s almost put our family into financial ruin.”

Multiply stories such as these into the millions and you’ll begin to detect the full scope of Obamacare’s failure.

Who else remembers how Obamacare fared with the public in 2014? A whopping 82 percent of respondents in a Rasmussen poll said Obamacare needed to be either improved or repealed.

And despite the furious liberal spin, love for Obamacare has not drastically skyrocketed. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from just last month found that 52 percent of respondents feel Obamacare either requires a “major overhaul” or should be “totally eliminated.”

How many said Obamacare is “working well the way it is”? Four percent.

Apparently amnesia is one of the ailments that can’t be treated under Obamacare. How else can America’s collective forgetfulness be explained? From its clunky rollout with its website mishaps to premiums climbing more than 20 percent this year alone (so far), it’s been a front-to-back disaster.

Why? The Chicago Tribune, as we mentioned, compiled a comprehensive list of reasons. Many other sources confirm them.

“It wasn’t flexible enough so that people could buy as much coverage as they wanted and could afford – not what the government dictated.” The New York Times backed that up in its Upshot blog last August: “So much for choice. In many parts of the country, Obamacare customers will be down to one insurer when they go to sign up for coverage (in 2017) on the public exchanges.”

“Obamacare failed because the penalties for going uncovered are too low when stacked against its skyrocketing premium costs.” A lot of people drew this conclusion almost simultaneously. Just one example: A 2015 analysis conducted by the consulting firm Avalere Health found that healthy middle-income people would be inclined to pay the penalty for not having insurance instead of buying insurance assisted by low, unattractive subsidies.

“Obamacare failed because it allowed Americans to sign up after they got sick and needed help paying all those medical bills.” The very idea of insurance is to protect against something that might happen. Being allowed to sign up for Obamacare – to borrow a common comparison – is like being allowed to sign up for auto insurance after totaling your car. Permitting that rubs out the legitimate incentive to buy insurance and overwhelms the system.

“Obamacare failed because it hasn’t tamed U.S. medical costs.” This isn’t free health care. Someone pays, and insurance companies and the government have pretty much determined, one way or another, it’s going to be you. Brian Blase reported in Forbes magazine last July that University of Pennsylvania economists – using actual pre-Obamacare data – estimated that the cost of premiums and out-of-pocket payments increased by 14 to 28 percent as a result of Obamacare.

It took years for the current government system to corkscrew American health care into the hole it’s in. Extracting it and changing it for the better clearly is going to take time.

That’s why we urge Republican leaders not to ramrod a hastily assembled plan through Congress. Constructing a viable national health care alternative must be done slowly and deliberately and, above all, correctly.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky rightly points out that the current plan proffered by House Republicans doesn’t fix Obamacare’s fundamental problem: Individual market premiums are going through the roof.

Paul sees enough components in the GOP plan to call it “Obamacare Lite”: continued subsidies (called tax credits); continued Obamacare taxes; continued mandates; and a $100 billion insurance-industry bailout.

Everyone appreciates the intent of covering pre-existing conditions. But as Paul told CBS’s Face the Nation, “You can’t have an insurance model where people wait till they’re sick to get insurance. It doesn’t work.”

Paul urges his fellow lawmakers to look at the advantages of group insurance-buying – and to the free-market competition and choice that is the hallmark of our capitalistic system.

“We have to believe in what made our country great,” he says.

The legendary pollster and campaign strategist Robert Teeter observed many years ago that health care is a losing issue for whichever political party owns it.

Republicans should be wary of moving forward precipitously: There’s no sense in creating another disaster.

They’d own this one.

 

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