The 219 House Democrats who voted to pass ObamaCare may think their vote puts health reform behind them so they can move on to other issues.
Dream on. President Obama’s reassurances that the public’s opposition to this massive overhaul legislation will turn to approval are pure fantasy.
The American people have rejected the substance of the health overhaul legislation, they are repulsed by the special deals and pork used to get it passed, and they are outraged that Speaker Pelosi jammed the bill through with threats and promises to members despite the deafening disapproval of the American people.
Democrats issued a list of the Top Ten Immediate Benefits the bill will offer, but they are either too modest to affect many people or likely will cause unintended consequences. Everything bad that happens next in our health sector will be blamed on the inevitable failings of this top-down, centralized approach to reform.
The uninsured rolls will continue to swell, it will be harder and harder to find a doctor as many quit the practice of medicine altogether, deficits will continue to soar, and the quality of care will get steadily worse as doctors and hospitals become more responsive to bureaucrats than to patients. In addition:
1. Cost: Health insurance costs will continue to soar. Premiums will continue to rise and will likely rise faster because of new mandates on insurers that add costs to policies.
2. Medicare: The added drug benefit will assist a few, but at least 10 million seniors are threatened with losing their Medicare Advantage benefits and plans because of deep cuts to the program. When they lose their coverage, they will blame ObamaCare. And it will come sooner rather than later.
3. Jobs: Employers will face new taxes as well as fines and penalties if they don’t provide insurance or if one or more of their employees seeks coverage in the new government exchange. Hiring new workers, particularly entry-level employees, will be a risk fewer employers will be willing to take.
4. Coverage: Many people who value their job-based insurance could lose it. Employers will face huge risks if they continue to offer health insurance, and already are considering dropping health benefits altogether. Many will find it is cheaper to pay the fine and send their employees to the exchanges or other government plans than to pay for increasingly-expensive, government-defined insurance for their workforce.
Members who voted for this bill, boasting of its benefits, should expect to find themselves perpetually on defense in explaining the cascade of problems it creates. An electorate that has been so ignored in this process will look for every opportunity to remind them of the high cost of false promises.
Published in National Journal Expert Blogs: Health Care, March 22, 2010.