Obamacare is in serious condition. Its symptoms worsen as its vital signs sink like U.S. job-growth figures. Even Democratic candidates are fleeing in fear that its malady is contagious.
The Health and Human Services Department has permitted McDonald’s, Aetna, New York’s United Federation of Teachers and 27 other well-connected organizations to escape new regulations on minimum-coverage levels and administrative-expense ratios for “mini-med” plans common among low-income employees. HHS granted these waivers because, as “Sub-Regulatory Guidance (OCIIO 2010-1)” explains, Obamacare could cause “a significant decrease in access to benefits or a significant increase in premiums.”
“There’s nothing in the bill that says you have to change the health insurance that you’ve got right now,” President Barack Obama told Iowa voters Sept. 29. He is hopelessly uninformed, frightfully deluded or totally lying through his perfect teeth. Obama should know that Obamacare already is prying Americans from their health plans.
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC) announced Sept. 28 that, on Dec. 31, it would jettison some 22,000 Medicare Advantage customers in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. “We became concerned by the long-term viability of Medicare Advantage programs in general,” customer-service vice-president Lynn Bowman told the Boston Globe. HPHC also worried about Obamacare’s requirement that it contract with doctors, rather than let customers choose their own physicians.
Meanwhile, Obamacare is hiking, not cutting, costs. Barbara A. Brody Associates reports that next year, Obamacare’s restrictions will push health premiums up 30 percent in New York for singles, couples and families with children.
Things are no sunnier down South. Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss., asked Milliman consultants to analyze Obamacare’s impact on his state.
“Their findings are staggering,” Barbour wrote state legislators Oct. 8. “[Obamacare] will result in a massive expansion of Medicaid, which is projected to cost Mississippi taxpayers up to an additional $1.7 billion over the next decade.” Barbour expects Medicaid rolls to expand by more than 400,000 and engulf a third of Mississippi’s population. Forty-nine other governors are wondering how to shoehorn Obamacare’s Medicaid mandates into their tight or busted budgets.
As Obamacare lies ill, Democrats run in horror.
“I didn’t vote for it, people don’t want it, and the taxpayers cannot afford it,” said Rep. Gene Taylor. The Mississippi congressman is the first Democrat to sign Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King’s discharge petition, promoted by Heritage Action for America. The petition has 173 signatures; 218 would let House members vote on Obamacare’s repeal.
Most Americans would applaud this. Among 1,000 likely voters surveyed by Rasmussen Reports last week, 55 percent want Obamacare unplugged; 39 percent disagree. Repeal advocates include 79 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of independents, and even 34 percent of Democrats (error margin: +/- 3 percent). Yup: More than one-third of Obama’s fellow Democrats would euthanize his biggest achievement.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.