Watching the Coming Obamacare Train Wreck
By Phil Kent
2011 was a year that, instead of heralding popularity for President Barack Obama’s expensive and tyrannical healthcare law, chronicled its unraveling month by month.
Last January Kansas became the 26th state suing the federal government to block implementation of the healthcare overhaul. By the end of that month, a second federal judge had declared the law unconstitutional. (The U.S. Supreme Court now decides whether part or all of Obamacare is unconstitutional, and it should rule sometime before or around early June.)
It was also last February when the Health and Human Services secretary made the embarrassing announcement that the CLASS Act, a key portion of the law that was supposed to “save” $70 billion, was “totally unsustainable.” And the bad news kept on coming.
The law turned a year old on March 23, the same day a U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce reported that the temporary Early Retirement Reinsurance Program would spend its allotted $5 billion far earlier than its January 2014 expiration date. By the end of March, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that Obamacare will ultimately cost over $1.1 trillion—an increase of $90 billion from its February estimate.
Last May the media reported that 20 percent of Obama administration waivers from the law were going to gourmet restaurants, nightclubs and swank hotels in Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s district. The AARP, which betrayed members with its shameless cheerleading for Obamacare, was also granted a waiver from the law along with various Obama-supporting labor unions.
When June rolled around a McKinsey & Company survey of over 1,300 private sector employers found that 30 percent of employers would definitely or probably stop offering insurance to their employees if the law is fully implemented by 2014. At the end of June, another embarrassment in the law emerged: a glitch allowed middle-class Americans to get subsidized healthcare intended for poor people—and Medicare’s chief actuary flatly declared that the section in question “doesn’t make sense.”
By mid-September Republican lawmakers said “we told you so”— accusing congressional Democrats who voted for the law of recklessness for promoting the CLASS Act stipulation despite knowing that it would eventually blow up the budget. And by October, Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services admitted “we do not have a path to move forward” and announced it was giving up on pursuing CLASS (although that law section remains on the books).
Last November dozens of congressmen wrote to the Internal Revenue Service commissioner objecting to a new IRS rule authorizing subsidies for participation in the yet-to-be-created federal healthcare exchange program. They argued that the agency was seeking to rewrite Obamacare, and experts noted the IRS was attempting to cover up a glitch in the original law that provides subsidies for people enrolled in state exchanges, but not federal exchanges. That problem is still unresolved.
On Nov. 10 Belmont Abbey College, a Roman Catholic school, filed a lawsuit claiming violation of its religious freedom if forced to buy contraceptives for its students. It specifically objects to a Department of Health and Human Services ruling outlawing all insurance plans that don’t fully cover the cost of all contraception, including pills that cause abortions.
Then came another shocker that month. On the heels of a Gallup poll showing almost half of the American people favor repeal of Obamacare, even ultraliberal Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., joined the effort to repeal the unaccountable Independent Payment Advisory Board, a key portion of the law that would recommend levels at which Medicare recipients, including seniors, can be reimbursed for health care expenses.
As Christmas dawned, The Washington Post reported that healthcare exerts doubted the law’s federal insurance exchange program would be fully operational by the Jan. 1, 2014 deadline. That’s because many states have refused to implement the state exchange program, hoping the Supreme Court will rule Obamacare unconstitutional .
As 2012 dawned, sticker shock was becoming evident. Seniors looking at Medicare Part B costs found that the per person Medicare insurance premium will increase from the present monthly fee of $96.40, rising to: $104.20 in 2012; $120.20 in 2013; and $247.00 in 2014. That’s an increase of 156 percent in just three years. Those provisions are embedded in Obamacare, but were delayed by the Democrat bill writers until after the 2012 election so as to hide them from voters.
In light of this oncoming train wreck, it will indeed be a happy new year if the Supreme Court declares the whole law unconstitutional. It would save Congress the time and trouble of defunding or repealing it.
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Phil Kent is the CEO of the Atlanta-based American Seniors Association