John Rowerdink, Chairman - Republican Party of Moore County
In the last several weeks, we’ve all heard about the failed startup of the Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov. This has been a major embarrassment for the Obama administration but serious as it is, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. They will eventually get the website fixed but the coming months will reveal much more serious problems with Obamacare, which has fundamental flaws so serious that it cannot succeed. Eventually, the health care system Titanic will hit the Obamacare iceberg and it will go down. Unfortunately, millions of Americans will be affected.
The problems trace back to the very inception of Obamacare. Health care reform was not the nation’s top priority in 2009 and 2010 when the law was written and passed. The American people said their top priorities were jobs and the economy (and still are) but Democrats made health care their top priority, ignoring the will of the people. Polls have consistently shown that the majority of Americans do not and have never supported Obamacare. The President ignored them.
Even after Democrats made health care their top priority, they misunderstood the primary problem with the health care system, which is the high cost. The government’s long term Medicare and Medicaid costs are unsustainable and businesses have long said their biggest problem is the cost of health care. But Democrats ignored this, paid no attention to cost and focused on expanding access to health insurance and expanding insurance benefits. Both will exacerbate rather than solve the problem. If you don’t understand the problem you’re not likely to find the right solution.
Such pervasive legislation should never be passed without bipartisan support. In Massachusetts, Governor Romney worked with the opposite party to pass their health care bill overwhelmingly in a legislature controlled by Democrats. But President Obama refused to do this and as a result, not a single Republican voted for the bill. This should have given the President pause but it did not. He had the votes so he rammed it through. And we now know that he played fast and loose with the truth in order to sell it. In spite of repeated assurances from President Obama, millions of Americans are having their health care plans cancelled. So far, more than five million have been cancelled and there’s another ten million coming.
One of the fundamental provisions of Obamacare is the idea that people who couldn’t get insurance because of preexisting conditions would now be able to do so. This, plus the elimination of annual and lifetime maximum expenditures, expansion of benefits, etc. (including maternity coverage for your grandparents), are the things that supporters of the law have long touted. These things are very nice. But they are also very costly and Obamacare prohibits charging prices that will cover the cost. The insurance companies went along with this because they were assured by the administration that Obamacare would require millions of young, healthy people to buy insurance. This is the “individual mandate”. That might have worked, except that Democrats didn’t have the political will to assess a penalty large enough to get the job done ($95 or 1% of the person’s income). So if you’re one of the young healthy people who never had insurance and it’s going to cost you $5,000 per year; are you going to buy the insurance or pay the penalty? Keep in mind that the “preexisting conditions” provision of the law says that you can always buy insurance if and when you get sick. Millions of them will pay the penalty rather than buy insurance. As a result, the older, sicker people who now have insurance will end up paying higher premiums. There is no free lunch.
Then there’s the “employer mandate”, which also has serious fundamental flaws. This is why Republicans have always said Obamacare is a job destroyer. More than a year ago, in reaction to the employer mandate, employers across the country began cancelling their employee insurance plans, reducing workers from full time to part time and taking other steps to protect themselves. Once these issues started to rear their ugly heads, the President bought time by delaying the employer mandate until 2015. Does anyone think it’s coincidental that the new effective date is after the 2014 election?
Then, there’s the cost. The original projections said Obamacare would cost $1 trillion over the first 10 years. Current projections are $1.7 trillion and it’s not even implemented yet. In 1967, Congress estimated that Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990. Actual 1990 cost - $110 billion. Actual current cost - $523 billion. Draw your own conclusions.
Finally, back to the website. I spent the majority of my working career managing large software projects and IT organizations for a major company. I can tell you that private industry would never even think about implementing a large, complex system without extensive end-to-end testing. Secretary Sebellius said they didn’t “have the luxury of doing this”. Believe me, this is no luxury; it’s a necessity, as we have now seen. Private industry would also never consider implementing a large system across the entire nation at one time. They would phase the implementation in, addressing and correcting problems as they went. And incredibly, the government never assigned implementation responsibility to one overall project manager. The President’s mismanagement of his own top priority is simply breathtaking.
Because of Obamacare’s serious fundamental flaws, it cannot succeed. The biggest problems are still coming. Democrats are going to learn this the hard way but Republicans have known it all along, which is why the House of Representatives voted more than forty times to repeal it. It’s not too late to repeal Obamacare and that’s what we should do.