Obamacare is unhealthy for America | PostIndependent.com

Obamacare is unhealthy for America

James Kellogg
Right Angles

James Kellogg

Passage of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, was celebrated by Democrats in 2010. When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law in 2012 against constitutional challenges, President Obama declared the decision as "a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law."

Now implementation of Obamacare is looming on January 2014, and the Obama administration and allies are looking to duck responsibility for the impact on American households and businesses.

When Obamacare was rammed through Congress, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, declared, "We have to pass the bill so you can find out what's in it." Middle class citizens and employers are beginning to discover that "what's in it" takes a big bite out of freedom and prosperity.

Obamacare contains close to 20 tax increases, most affecting the middle class. The Treasury's inspector general called it "the largest set of tax law changes in 20 years."

The law also requires a health care insurance exchange in every state by Oct. 1, to offer "affordable" insurance to those without employer-sponsored coverage. They will be set up and run by the federal government in 33 states that have chosen not to incur the expense of creating their own. With billions of dollars in federal grants and subsidies, exchanges will help people "pay" for insurance.

Despite the influx of taxpayer dollars and new federal debt, nobody knows how much insurance will cost. According to a recent analysis by the Wall Street Journal, healthy consumers could see insurance rates double or triple to cover the expense of older, sicker people. The young and healthy are critical to the health insurance exchange markets.

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The White House wants nearly 3 million young people enrolled in the exchanges by early 2014. That's why the individual mandate forces citizens to buy government-approved health insurance or pay fines. To soften the blow, a vast White House public relations campaign encourages America's youth to suck it up and finance a new entitlement for others.

For businesses, Obamacare includes a requirement that companies with more than 50 full-time workers must provide "affordable" health insurance coverage. An employee's share of cost can be no more than 9.5 percent of household income. At the same time, insurers cannot consider pre-existing medical conditions and must offer dozens of medical services for "free."

It's no surprise that the Federal Reserve predicts overall employer health costs for 2014 will rise by more than twice the rate of economic growth. Additionally, companies face fines of at least $2,000 for each worker that ends up in a health care exchange. Many companies will avoid costs and penalties by moving workers to part-time positions. Surveys indicate 25 percent of businesses will likely stop offering coverage within five years.

Ultimately, Medicaid will provide coverage for millions of additional people. Currently, the program reimburses doctors about 58 percent of what private insurance pays. An expansion of Medicaid beneficiaries will strain state budgets, result in hospital provider fees, and further diminish compensation for doctors.

As Obamacare deluges hospital emergency rooms and causes more providers to refuse Medicaid patients, rationing of health care is inevitable. Dr. Ezekial Emanuel, brother of President Obama's former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, advises the administration to make rationing decisions based on value to society "as determined by the government."

Faced with reality, the White House and Congress admit that putting Obamacare into practice is a debacle. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana), chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, said implementing the law would be "a huge train wreck." An Obamacare-induced shellacking, reminiscent of the 2010 election, may be pending for Democrats in 2014.

To minimize consequences at the ballot box, President Obama decided he has the constitutional authority to selectively implement the provisions of laws passed by Congress. Earlier this month, he announced he will delay the mandate on employer-provided insurance until after the 2014 election. The individual mandate requirement will move forward to bolster health care exchanges and the illusion of affordable coverage.

Candidate Obama asserted health care is a right. Today, President Obama claims he has the right to enforce a law, which ostensibly secures the right to health care, in a manner that suits his party's political purposes. Funny how every new right manufactured by politicians infringes on those rights clearly stipulated in the Constitution. That's decidedly unhealthy for America.

James D. Kellogg is a professional engineer in Glenwood Springs, the author of the thriller Radical Action, and a freelance writer. Visit jamesdkellogg.com or email james@jamesdkellogg.com.