‘Obamacare’ is happeningPublished 9:35am Friday, July 12, 2013
Whether you like “Obamacare” or not, every indicator is that the program is a “done deal” and will remain the law of the land and the basis of all future health care changes.
And yet, one can admire the efforts of the loyal, but failing opposition.
Republicans hated Obamacare from Day One, some for it being from Obama their sworn enemy and planned for one term president; some from a concern about “Big Government” though they had no problem with defense spending doubling in a decade or voting for Medicare part D; and some because they were shut out of the process by virtue of rejecting any contribution, even if it was a previous Republican argument, like individual responsibility.
Regardless of their individual reasons, virtually every Republican has united in condemning Obamacare, and in 2010 it may have been an excellent issue for Republicans recapturing the House of Representatives.
So many Republicans hope Obamacare will be a gift that keeps on giving, at least giving opportunities to stay in opposition.
Yet that can sometimes result in laughable ironies, like last week’s Republican outrage that the Obama administration postponed implementation of the business mandate to require coverage for companies with more than 50 employees.
Some Republicans called it communism, ignoring the constitution with dictator like power. An interesting claim by those who want the entire law repealed. Sort of “Kill Obamacare but how dare you delay it” logic.
But beyond Republican angst about all things Obama have Republican criticisms and claims about Obamacare been substantiated since its passage in 2010?
Claims included that Obamacare would cause health care costs to rise far faster than current costs; Obamacare would result in employers dropping coverage for their workers; Republicans had better ideas for solving the serious issues with healthcare; voters did not like Obamacare in polls.
On the prediction of healthcare rising costs, so far at least Obamacare has had the opposite effect, reducing healthcare inflation. In May of 2013 healthcare costs fell 0.1 percent and costs for the last two years have been less than inflation. In California, where the healthcare exchanges have started, the policy costs are significantly lower than before Obamacare and far lower than conservative estimates.
This claim seems without merit.
In terms of employers dropping coverage, statistically, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 94 percent of employers with over 50 employees offer healthcare insurance, and they do so as an incentive to hire and retain.
Some have suggested that employer penalties are lower than healthcare coverage costs which may be a disincentive to continue coverage. Yet in Massachusetts, a Republican forerunner to Obamacare, with much smaller penalties, employer coverage actually rose after the program began. Again, no evidence here to support the claim of dropping coverage.
As for Republican ideas on healthcare we need look no farther than Majority leader Kantor’s bill this spring to help families pay for pre-existing condition insurance; this popular idea was widely rejected by his own party.
Finally, polling does still show a majority of the public opposing Obamacare, but liking the many provisions already in place like the shrinking Part D donut hole; no pre-existing conditions refusals; no more cancellations for being sick; and keeping children covered until age 26.
Obamacare does still have issues to be solved, like the 30 hour work rule which is, at best, an idea that will encourage business to cut work hours; states not cooperating in setting up health exchanges; states refusing to expand Medicaid; and Republicans in congress refusing to tweak Obamacare to fix these issues.
The goal of Obamacare was two-fold; first to expand access to insurance; second to lower the rate of inflation in healthcare. Today both goals look to be on target to be attained.
Obamacare is here to stay even when the House votes for the 40th or 100th time to repeal it.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.