October Fright

October has been a frightening month for supporters of ObamaCare — with the collapse of CLASS, release of a new congressional report showing a tidal wave of destructive effects from one of the law’s provisions, and now a new Kaiser opinion survey showing that support for ObamaCare is cratering.

The Kaiser tracking poll shows that a majority of Americans (51%) now have a negative view of the health law, with just one third (34%) still supporting it. That’s the lowest level of support since the law was enacted in March 2010.

But the bigger story is that much of the decline appears to have been driven by falling support among Democrats. In September, two-thirds of Democrats had a favorable view of the law but just 52% do now. Support among independents dropped from 36% to 32%. And support from Republicans fell from 14% to 11%.

This is terrible news for the White House that convinced reluctant Democrats to put the law over the finish line with the promise that the law would become more and more popular once it passed.

The more people learn about the law, the more frightened they become. Did they not think that people would actually get informed and find out how it was going to affect them?

*****

Massive marriage penalty: And the Kaiser poll was taken before the release of a new congressional report showing the law’s harmful effects in 1) massively increasing the deficit, 2) expanding welfare deeply into the middle class, and 3) severely penalizing marriage.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the study Thursday demonstrating that the law will:

  1. Penalize and therefore disincentivize marriage by providing much more generous health insurance subsidies to people who are single — either because they get divorced or never marry
  2. Harm lower-income people who are much more likely to lose employer-based insurance and be shuttled off to the publicly funded health insurance exchanges
  3. Increase the nation’s debt by $1.4 trillion in the first seven years

There are nearly 60 million married couples in the U.S., but only 2 million of them are expected to get subsidies to help them buy expensive, federally mandated health insurance. (Married couples are more likely to have more than $90,000 a year in family income, which is the cut off for tax subsidies to help offset health insurance premiums.)

Virtually all of the subsidies will go to singles and single parents, according to an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation. Since countless studies show the benefits to society of marriage, especially to children, ObamaCare’s marriage penalty will further erode a key building block of a strong and prosperous society.

This evokes former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s warning in the 1960s about the profound effect that misguided welfare policies were having on social institutions. He said that government welfare payments to single moms erode the institution of marriage and would lead to a generation of fatherless children raised in poverty. Moynihan surely would be shocked that the health law would so dramatically exacerbate this wound to our society and culture.

The tax credits “serve as a backdoor welfare program” and are also “the law’s primary fiscal time bomb,” the report says, because they present businesses with a strong incentive to drop health insurance coverage.

Lower-wage workers will find that their employer has a strong incentive to dump them into the taxpayer-subsidized exchanges. This incentive for companies to stop offering health insurance (and pay the much-less-expensive fines) means that the Congressional Budget Office “may have significantly under-estimated the cost of the PPACA,” the report says.

ObamaCare’s drafters also tried to be far too clever in their impossible attempt to keep the price tag for the law under $1 trillion. Under the law, if an employee is offered health insurance at work that is “affordable” (by the government’s definition) for covering the employee only, then her family won’t qualify for any subsidies in the exchange.

How many of us know women who work at least partly to provide health insurance for their families? Now, the most she can expect is to get a policy for herself. The rest of the family would have to buy insurance on its own at full price.

Chairman Darrell Issa said in the report: “These outcomes may not have been intended, but they are significant collateral damage from the law’s unaffordable addition to the welfare state.”

For the 18% of people in the Kaiser study who think they will be better off under ObamaCare, they may want to think again…

*****

CLASS cancelled: The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee demanded more information from the Obama administration about the failed CLASS program. In a hearing on Wednesday, members wanted to know why the administration spent at least $5 million trying to design a program that was clearly a Ponzi scheme of the first order from its inception, according to Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad.

Administration witnesses evaded clear answers about the program and their decision to pull the plug. Kathy Greenlee, administrator of the program and assistant secretary for aging, told members that CLASS office staff members are being reassigned and implementation has ended. But she opposes Republican plans to repeal the offending measure.

A senior congressional staffer analyzed some of the tactics the Obama administration considered in its attempt to rescue the CLASS program. Among them:

  • Long waits for coverage: Imposing a 15-year waiting period before enrollees in the long-term care program could receive benefits if they had pre-existing conditions. You read that right: 15 years!
  • Limited benefits: Making very low payouts for the first 20 years after enrollment, and only provide the full $50 daily benefit specified in the statute after two decades.
  • High premiums: Charging premiums of between $235 and $391 a month, and possibly as much as $3,000 per month for the long-term care coverage.
  • Cherry picking: Marketing the plan primarily to healthy people, and requiring sicker people to wait longer for benefits.

You can’t make this stuff up!

*****

CLIP OF THE WEEK

Grace-Marie Turner at The Heartland Institute

In this video, Grace-Marie Turner speaks at The Heartland Institute’s Anniversary Benefit Dinner.

GALEN IN THE NEWS

Recommendations for the Super Committee

Grace-Marie Turner
Galen Institute, 10/24/11

Numerous members, committees, and organizations have offered advice to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — the Super Committee — on ways to cut at least $1.2 trillion from federal spending over the next 10 years, and many more have weighed in with warnings on the dire consequences if their industry were to be targeted. This paper offers a concise list of do’s and don’ts that the committee might consider to advance good policy in changes for Medicare and Medicaid. We advise the members to take the long-view and take steps that will grow over time to improve the programs and save taxpayer dollars.
Read More

Why ObamaCare Must Be Repealed So We Can Begin Real Health Reform

Grace-Marie Turner
Networks Financial Institute at Indiana State University
Conference on “The Affordable Care Act: Challenges to Access, Affordability and Availability,” 10/21/11

There is no question that we need changes in our health sector. But numerous independent studies have shown that the Affordable Care Act will fail to achieve its goals and will cause harm by trying to inflict too much change too suddenly. For example, as many as 25 million people will be added to Medicaid’s rolls; this means those already on the program will be competing for the limited number of physicians, especially specialists, who treat Medicaid patients, making it even more difficult for those on the program to access care. The legislation also will cause tremendous disruption in employment-based insurance, with estimates that as many as 80 million people will not be able to keep the coverage they have now and will be forced to have coverage directed by Washington. The law also is deterring employers from hiring new workers until they know the cost of the mandated insurance.
Read More

Other papers presented at the Networks Financial Institute conference:

The Continuing Debate on Health Insurance Reform
Scott E. Harrington, Networks Financial Institute at Indiana State University, 10/11

Repeal and Replace: Ten Necessary Changes
John C. Goodman, Networks Financial Institute at Indiana State University, 10/11

Insurance mandate lacks teeth, WellPoint CFO says
J.K. Wall, Indianapolis Business Journal, 10/24/11

HEALTH REFORM

Obama’s Health Care Gamble
Joseph Rago, The Wall Street Journal, 10/25/11

Another unpleasant surprise from Obamacare
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Washington Examiner, 10/27/11

Examining Obamacare’s Hidden Marriage Penalty and Its Impact on the Deficit
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Health Care, 10/27/11
Testimonies: Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Professor Richard V. Burkhauser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin

Uncovering the True Impact of the Obamacare Tax Credits: Increases the Deficit, Expands Welfare through the Tax Code, and Implements a New Marriage Tax Penalty
Staff Report of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, 10/27/11

Views on the ACA Less Favorable This Month
Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, Kaiser Family Foundation, 10/11

Slashing doc pay
Scott Gottlieb, New York Post, 10/24/11

Reviewing ObamaCare’s Rate Review
Sally C. Pipes, Forbes.com, 10/25/11

Without The Individual Mandate, The Affordable Care Act Would Still Cover 23 Million; Premiums Would Rise Less Than Predicted
John F. Sheils and Randall Haught, Health Affairs, 10/11

Court Ruling Proves: Kagan Must Recuse
Terence P. Jeffrey, Human Events, 10/19/11

Summary of Benefits and Coverage and Uniform Glossary Proposed Rule: Implementation and Annual Ongoing Costs of Compliance
America’s Health Insurance Plans, 10/11

Costly Tradeoffs for Health Benefits: Are Even Lower Wages and Bleaker Futures Ahead?
American Enterprise Institute Event, 10/28/11

MEDICARE AND MEDICAID

CLASS Dismissed
James C. Capretta, The Weekly Standard, 10/31/11

CLASS-less Democrats
Dr. Milton R. Wolf, The Washington Times, 10/26/11

Medicare Part B Drug Reimbursement: Why Change A Market-Driven System That Works Well at Controlling Costs?
Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Han Zhong, American Action Forum, 10/26/11

STATE ISSUES

Mitt Romney may be haunted by Massachusetts health care costs
Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico, 10/26/11

CONSUMER CHOICE MATTERS® NEWS

Insurers, employers offer incentives to promote healthful habits
Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times, 10/25/11

INTERNATIONAL HEALTH SYSTEMS

Spending on Public Health Programs
Livio Di Matteo, Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, 10/27/11

Events

Is ObamaCare Constitutional
The Heritage Foundation’s Preserve the Constitution Series
Thursday, November 3, 2011
12:00pm – 1:00pm
Washington, DC

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

About the author