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Something wicked this way comes

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Part 2

There are so many reasons Obamacare is a disaster it’s difficult to narrow it down to just a few. However, one of the primary ones is the simple fact it’s a first step toward socialized medicine – a camel’s nose under the tent, if you will – and Ronald Reagan warned about that potential problem years ago.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems is the fact that in light of current massive federal deficits this legislation is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost $138 billion. This number of course is nowhere near its true cost. If the costs of cuts in Medicare provider payments, double-counted savings from Medicare and the CLASS Act, indexing benefits to general inflation rather than medical inflation, and the delaying of expensive provisions of the bill, the true cost is estimated to be about $2.5 trillion.

This new law imposes new taxes, and requires employers who do not offer insurance deemed adequate by the federal government to pay a $2,000 per employee fine. Employers having to pay this fine will, of necessity, have to reduce wages, cut jobs or rely on part-time workers for whom they do not have to provide benefits. This new bill also taxes investment income. The IRS becomes the enforcement agent in this whole mess.

Under the provisions of Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services is empowered to define a required benefits package that every health plan in the U.S. must include, and the law empowers the federal government to dictate the prices insurers set through age-rating regulations and medical-loss ratio requirements.

Obamacare will be a burden on the states. The reconciliation bill ensures that the federal government cover the expansion of Medicare benefits in all 50 states (not 58 or so as Obama stated in his campaign) until 2017.

Those matching rates will decrease from 100 percent in 2017 to 93 percent in 2019 and will remain at that level permanently. A little wrinkle in all this is the fact the states are responsible for administrative expenses which are estimated to cost the states $9.6 billion between 2014 and 2019.

Medicare is due to become insolvent in 2016 and its long-term unfunded liabilities exceed $38 trillion, according to various sources. To address this, Medicare provider payment rates are scheduled to decrease annually. Congress votes to suspend these cuts every year, but did not include a permanent way to pay for the cuts in physician reimbursement rates in the new bill.

Low income workers are discriminated against in this law because the employer mandate states if an employer does offer insurance but their low-income workers elect to enter the health exchange, the employer will pay a $3,000 penalty for each employee who makes the choice. Depending on the number of such employees that come from low-income families, it could be more beneficial for employers to drop coverage altogether instead of paying the increased penalty creating an incentive to avoid hiring workers from low-income families. That harms people who need jobs most.

It also creates generous subsidies for Americans to purchase insurance in health exchanges and these subsidies will be available to those falling between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level if these folks are not offered sufficient federally defined assistance from their employers to purchase health insurance. All other Americans will not receive subsidies including those in the very same income bracket thus creating a gross inequity between Americans making similar incomes.

Finally, the most important consideration in this whole mess is the issue of Constitutionality. This new law, for the first time ever, sets a government requirement to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty – forcing citizens to buy a product from a private provider – forcing Americans to purchase a good or product in order to be deemed a lawful citizen. This is an extraordinary extension of congressional power.

On so many fronts Obamacare is bad medicine, and as such it most assuredly deserves to be euthanized. I’m sure Dr. Obama would advise take two aspirin and call him back sometime around 2019.


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Nelson Propane

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