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Happy Birthday, Obamacare!

Our Boomer-In-Charge at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes about boomer memories and current events... from a boomer’s perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, some-
times a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.

It was two years ago that President Obama put his signature on what would be called Obamacare. For some reason, no mention of the anniversary was made by the White House — no cake and ice cream, no expensive wine, no low-calorie truffles... no nothing. That does not seem right to me. Let’s take a look and see how it has aged. Let’s celebrate!

This essay is available in its entirety to all visitors. Enjoy!

March, 2012:

Why, it seems like only yesterday... Republican and Democratic lawmakers and pundits were arguing endlessly over the cost, benefits, obligations, and consequences of the federal government's biggest initiative since Medicare became the law of the land. Come to think of it, it was only yesterday... as it has been since Congress began churning out the framework of what would officially be called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But, it was two years ago that President Obama put his signature on what would be known by most people as Obamacare. For some reason, no mention of the anniversary was made by the White House -- no cake and ice cream, no expensive wine, no low-calorie truffles... no nothing.

Though... I did notice a fine T-shirt for sale on the Barack Obama web site.

Really; no kidding. (You do remember VP Joe Biden's BFD comment, don't you?)

There's a whole slew of hip merchandise for sale up there:

The absence of a public acknowledgement of the anniversary does not seem right to me. Let's take a look and see how it has aged. Let's celebrate!

Two years ago, I wrote 29 Reasons Why You Should Oppose Obamacare. But I donno... that is so.... so negative.

I want to try to stay out of the thick weeds today, and instead focus on the major features. But everything here is backed by loads of research.

At the time the bill was under consideration, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that, "we have to pass the the bill so that we can find out what is in it." Surely that is a first! Well, they passed the bill; since then, America has found out a lot.
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Promises, Promises

Here are the major promises of universal health care:

1.   Everyone would have health insurance.
2.   If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.
3.   If you like your doctor, you can keep him/her.
4.   The quality of health care will increase.
5.   Health care coverage will expand to include more services.
6.   No federal funds would be used to cover abortions.
7.   It's about jobs.
8.   Cost:
      a. Annual premiums would be reduced by as much as
            $2,500 per family per year.
      b. The "cost curve" would bend down.
      c. The cost for the first 10 years of Obamacare would be
            under a trillion dollars.

It's all well-intentioned. It sounds good in a Pollyanna world. Let's see how it has played out in the real world:

The Real World

1. Universal coverage: No, not everyone will be covered. According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2016, more than 26 million Americans will not have health care coverage. Farther out than that, no one can make a reasonable estimate.

2. Keep your plan: No, you may not be able to keep your plan. As reality has hit the marketplace, some companies have significantly modified the health care plan they offer their employees. Others have indicated that they will stop providing a health care plan to their employees. As reported by Bloomberg News, so far, at least 9% fewer companies are offering health care benefits. Of course, this is exactly as President Obama intended. (2007: "But I don't think we're going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately." )

Though, that is not what he said when he was selling his plan.

In December, 2011, The Galen Institute, a free-market health-care research organization detailed more than a dozen instances in which companies exited the business or ended health-care coverage in as many as 20 states since the passage of ObamaCare. And that's just the beginning.

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"Nobody is trying to change what works in the system. We're trying to change what does not work."

The problem is that, in the mind of Barack Obama, virtually nothing works in the current system.

3. Keep your doctor: No, you may not be able to keep your doctor. Many doctors said that they would cease to work as primary care doctors if Obamacare passed. Many doctors have stopped accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients. With reduced payments and increased costs, they simply cannot afford to treat patients at a financial loss.

Dr. Marc Siegel, M.D., a professor of medicine and news analyst, said that "ObamaCare’s Independent Medicare Advisory Board and other regulatory committees and mandates will make it more and more difficult for doctors like me to practice and to order the tests and treatments we feel our patients need. We will require more staff hours to deal with all the red tape. As more of us drop out and no longer accept insurance, another unconstitutional mandate will become necessary to compel doctors to participate again."

"Keep your doctor"? Not likely.

4. Quality of health care: Though it is too soon to make any firm judgments, this is simply not possible. As is true in any business, as more pressure is placed to reduce costs, quality always suffers. When has any government-mandated or government-controlled entity improved service? Name one... just one.

5. Expansion of health care services: The government can mandate all it wants, but not without consequences that the government is incapable of recognizing. By design, government bureaucrats do not understand that there is a cost for everything that it mandates. Unlike the federal government, companies cannot continue to provide goods and services without receiving adequate compensation. Government bureaucrats have absolutely no ability to determine what constitutes adequate compensation. When Obamacare mandated that insurance providers cover "children" living at their parents' home until age 26, some insurance companies stopped offering facility coverage. When they could, others raised their rates.

6. Federal funding of abortion: State exchanges established under Obamacare, receiving federal funds, will certainly include plans that cover abortion. Both the Congressional Research Service and the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights noted that there was no legal restriction against HHS approving funding for abortion.

7. Jobs: In selling the bill, Nancy Pelosi claimed that the bill was also about jobs. She said the bill would create millions of jobs... "400,000 almost immediately." She offered no basis for her claims. And of course, this too, proved to be phony.

8. Cost:
  a. "Lower your premiums": Barack Obama stopped echoing that promise the day he won the election. He had no basis for making that ridiculous claim. He should apologize for THAT, rather than the myriad of other things for which he has apologized.

b. The "cost curve": No, the cost curve will not "bend down." The laws of supply and demand are as real as the laws of physics. You cannot provide greatly expanded services at less cost.

c. Under a trillion dollars: This estimate was rigged from the beginning. Among other things, it included collecting revenue for 10 years, but providing benefits for only eight years. No business could get away making that kind of jaded financial projection. The projected cost has continued to increase since the ink dried on the bill. The 10 year cost is now estimated to be $1.7 trillion dollars. And after the first 10 years, the costs will increase at a faster rate. How are we going to pay for that? No one has an answer for that. No one. This is the epitome of "unsustainable."

The failure of Obamacare is highlighted in the title of the act itself. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, embodies its most destructive weakness. It does not protect, and it is not affordable.

CLASS Dismissed

One of the first fatalities of Obamacare was the "CLASS Act," -- Community Living Assistance Services and Supports -- a poorly conceived program designed to juggle money -- money coming in now, services to be provided later. Well, the money did not come in now... and never would have. The HHS Secretary killed the program herself when she determined that it was doomed to fail.

Is there a message there?

Drowning in Paperwork

Oh, and as another small example of the reach of this gargantuan bill, the law mandates that beginning this year, businesses will have to report to the federal government any payments in excess of $600 it makes to anyone. For example, when you sell those gold coins you bought in 2002, the buyer will have to report the details of that transaction to the federal government. Big brother is watching. One large company estimated that it will have to prepare 13 million forms to send to the government to comply with this provision. (Aside from the cost to prepare the forms, how much do you suppose it will cost the federal government to process all that paperwork? I assure you, no one in the government has considered that... not for one second.)

Now, what does all this have to do with affordable health care? Why, absolutely nothing, of course. It is simply another part of the power-grab by the Obama administration, buried deep in 2,500 pages of mish-mash called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Last Word

So, how does it look after two years? You do not have to be a financial genius or a policy wonk to call this one. You just need to be a reasonable observer. Obamacare has failed on every one of its major promises.

The promises of Obamacare are a fraud. However well-intentioned the legislators may have been, what they promised is fraudulent.

Oh, and the there is the matter of the insurance mandate -- the legal requirement for every citizen to purchase health insurance. This mandate is unprecedented in the history of our country. Its constitutionality is in question, though its impact on personal freedom is certainly not. If the government can force you to buy something, then it can force you to do anything, in the name of cost reduction, protection, or the perceived national interest.

The more people learn about Obamacare, the less they like it. More than half the population believes that the law should be greatly modified... or scrapped. Of course, that does not matter to the Democrats. As it is with most any issue they support, they think they know better than we do; they think they are better than we are.

Happy birthday, Obamacare!

Obamacare is not about health care. It is about control of the people. As such, it is antithetical to the principles upon which this country was founded, and the factors which have made the USA the strongest, most prosperous, and most free country in the world.

Barack Obama does not like this country as it was founded, or as it was when he took office. He has made that abundantly clear. Obamacare is one tool that he is using to make America more like.... Greece.

Make no mistake; that is what this debate is about.

Think carefully, please.

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