Thursday, January 27, 2011
Obamacare Under Attack
if Republicans in the 112th Congress spent the next two years doing nothing but debating the health care law, beginning to dismantle it, and offering alternatives, they would have real momentum heading into the 2012 election.
-- Matthew Continetti, Weekly Standard, 1.31.11
Competition is always an act of aggression toward systems that can survive only by coercion.
--Patrick McIlheran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1.21.11
People favor repeal of Obamacare over its retention by 49% to 43%, according to the latest “RealClearPolitics” average (6 polls). That 6% margin in favor of repeal is down from 11% last May. Still, it’s noteworthy people continue to support repeal.
It’s possible Republicans could overplay the Obamacare issue, focusing on it instead of the job creation the public wants. After all Obama, unlike during his first two years, is now free to emphasize jobs, because health care is law, history, and his signal achievement. He gets to “move on,” while Republicans won’t.
In that context, some Democrats jumped on a recent AP-GfK poll that showed support for Obamacare holding steady at 40% over November-January, opposition dropping from 45% to 41%, and a third choice, “neither support nor oppose,” rising from 11% to 16%. Has the AP poll, by offering a middle choice between support and repeal, smoked out growing indifference to Republican efforts to undo Obamacare?
Perhaps, but perhaps not. In the November AP poll, respondents were 23% liberal, 44% conservative, and 31% moderate. In January, liberals were still at 22%, but conservatives were down to 39%, and moderates up to 36%. That means the 5% gain in moderates answering the survey exactly matches the 5% rise in those answering they “neither support nor oppose” Obamacare. So an apparent shift away from public opposition to Obamacare is merely a poll sample shift from conservative to moderate respondents.
Still, the AP poll has useful information. 59% oppose Obamacare’s requirement that people either buy insurance or pay a fine. Of significance, in addition to the people, 28 state governments oppose the same provision (see chart). It’s important to understand that repealing the requirement to buy insurance will collapse the financial structure needed to pay for Obamacare.
On the other hand, the AP poll finds 59% favor Obamacare’s requiring large and medium-sized companies to offer health insurance. Not surprisingly, people are happy to have someone else pay. And 59% say insurance companies shouldn’t be able to drop anyone who develops a serious illness, a provision Republicans say would be part of their health care “replacement” plan.
While Obama’s 2009-10 fight for health care clashed with the public's contrasting concern about job creation, Republicans want to link Obamacare’s repeal closely to job creation. This is an important difference. The GOP believes that for jobs to grow, government must shrink, and Obamacare is all about making government bigger.
As Charles Krauthammer wrote, Obama’s health care entitlement for 32 million Americans doesn’t kick in until 2014. That delay is deliberate, designed so any 10-year cost projection would cover only 6 years of expenditures. Ten years of collection versus six years of payment does produce a deficit-reducing number, but a fraudulent one. Obamacare’s true 10 year cost—its first 10 years of taxes matching its first 10 years of payments—is $2.3 trillion.
Krauthammer goes after another fake cost reduction: Obamacare’s underreported long-term-care insurance entitlement, possibly the biggest budget buster in our welfare state’s history. Unbelievably, the Obama long-term care entitlement claims to reduce the deficit over the next ten years by $70 billion. How? By collecting premiums now, and paying no benefits for the first 10 years!
Here are other ways Obamacare will cause financial hardship, thus killing jobs:
➢ it has effectively stopped the construction of physician-owned hospitals throughout the country, the 45 under way, and countless others that will never be built.
➢ A Physician's Foundation survey revealed that 40% of doctors plan to "drop out of patient care," and 60% said Obamacare will "compel them to close or significantly restrict" practices devoted to serving Medicare or Medicaid patients.
➢ rules requiring insurers in the individual and small-group markets to spend 80% of premiums on medical claims will push many out of existence, and fewer competitors means survivers will find it easier to raise rates.
➢ because people can no longer use Health Savings Accounts on over-the-counter drugs, they must pay for a doctor's appointment to get a prescription for a pricier drug.
➢ the new $2.5 billion excise tax on pharmaceutical companies means price increases for consumers, as drug manufacturers pass on their new costs.