Obamacare and the government shutdown

October 9, 2013

“Jimmy Kimmel Live” recently did interviews asking people whether they preferred the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. Obviously this is a nonsensical question since they are one and the same. Nonetheless the interviewer found a number of people who launched into an explanation of why they preferred one versus the other. It is a small proof statement that many of our uninformed voters nonetheless have opinions and it is those opinions on which they base their vote; how scary.

Most people when asked by a research firm about the various sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, said they like most of them. However this misses several key points. One is that ACA is a massive combination of these parts so those answering the questions have no idea of the total cost. Further they don’t understand there are better alternatives such as those for people with pre-existing conditions where various states have created reasonably priced insurance.

Personally I believe ACA unless repealed, delayed or totally revised with less government the end result will go down in our history as THE worst bill ever passed! For starters it does not address the key problem of health care which is affordability. It along with accessibility and quality are the foundations of good health care. In my educated opinion accessibility and quality are already adequately addressed but ACA doesn’t address affordability because:

• It does not reduce the causes that make health care so unnecessarily expensive. Serious tort reform will not only lower premiums health care providers have to pay but more importantly it would reduce a huge number of unnecessary procedures which are ordered just in case the provider is sued. Excessively high administrative costs and what insurance companies charge above and beyond reimbursement are yet more of many ways to reduce what it costs you and I for our insurance and out of pocket costs.

• While ACA makes it affordable for some it significantly increases the cost for most through various taxes and premium increases. Despite that the Congressional Budget Office has already raised the estimated debt that ACA will add to the unconscionable $17 trillion debt we already have. Further history shows this is the tip of the iceberg. Medicare has created an unfunded liability (very different than debt) of $70 trillion; think what ACA will do!

• The best way to decrease health care cost is to increase personal responsibility but ACA is largely silent on this. As a case in point, the most logical and cost-effective way to insure yourself, if you are reasonably healthy, is through a Health Savings Account (HSA). But I don’t see that addressed. A few of many other ways is a wellness vs sickness model, requiring all to pay a deductible as those on Medicaid are supposed to do but many providers usually do not do anything if someone refuses, and smokers and seriously overweight people should be required to attend behavior modification classes until they lose enough weight and stop smoking.

Contrary to what Obama says, it is not the radical element of the Republican Party who is leading this vital fight, but instead most Republican members of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been so nasty in his comments about the Republicans that he was reminded of the Senate Rules of civility and had to apologize.

Former House Speaker Tip O’Neil is fondly remembered as the great conciliator but while he was speaker there were 12 government shutdowns!

As we witness absolutely unnecessary actions by the Obama administration with the government shutdown, such as closing parks where rangers are not needed plus his divisive rhetoric, I hope you begin to see what some have described as “Chicago thuggery.” Despite bills passed by the House to continue funding other areas of the government where there is presently an inconvenience because of the shutdown Obama and Reid have refused to vote on them.

Let’s be honest and admit Obama/Reid have refused to negotiate so they are at least as responsible for the shutdown as Boehner and the House Republicans. Therefore I think it is going to take a “grand deal” to end this. Congressman Westmoreland’s says, “I think you will see at least some change to ACA, a long term savings on debt, possibly some tax reform, some immediate savings and possibly something on the farm bill and maybe even immigration and you will see all this coming out of 2 conferences with the Senate on the 2 budgets and the Continuing Resolution”

Meanwhile I encourage our Representatives and Senators to continue this courageous effort to defund or delay ACA and/or get our debt under control otherwise I believe we are heading to a disaster!

Rep Jeff Brown (Retired)