Broken Promises and ObamaCare Realities
Roger Stark, MD, FACS, Health Care Policy Analyst, October, 2012
We now have two-and-a-half years experience with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or, as the President calls it, ObamaCare. During the debate in 2009 proponents told the American people to expect many benefits from the law in the following years.
First, we were told ObamaCare would reduce health care costs and lower the country’s level of debt. Back then the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the cost of the legislation would be $940 billion and that it would decrease the national debt by $100 billion over the first 10 years. These estimates were based on the President’s plan to collect ten years of taxes while providing only six years of benefits, starting in 2014.
Two months ago, however, the CBO updated its financial projection. For the ten years starting in 2012, the new cost estimate has jumped to $1.76 trillion, though the law will supposedly still lower the national debt by $100 billion.
Unfortunately, these new numbers are based on increasing the President’s Medicare cut from $450 billion to $716 billion. These reductions in Medicare payments are virtually all directed against providers. Medicare already pays doctors and hospitals only 70 percent of what private insurance pays. As a result providers are reducing the number of Medicare patients they can treat simply because they can’t pay their overhead with these low reimbursements. As ObamaCare kicks in it will make this situation worse, making access to health care still more difficult for our Medicare patients.
A further tax increase composes the remainder of the increasing cost of ObamaCare. Taxes on all taxpayers are set to increase from the original $490 billion to over $1 trillion in the next ten years. The chief Medicare actuary, Richard Foster, now estimates that, once ObamaCare is in place, the cost of health care will rise from 18 percent of our economy to 21 percent by 2020. In no way will ObamaCare reduce the cost of health care for the country.
Second, the President told Americans we could keep our present health insurance if we liked it. A recent national survey, however, finds that 50% of small business employers and 30% of large employers will either drop or consider dropping employee health benefits once ObamaCare takes hold. The CBO now estimates at least 14 million Americans will lose their current employer-provided health insurance under ObamaCare.
And because of the draconian cuts to Medicare, it is now estimated that 7.5 million seniors will lose their Medicare Advantage Plan and be forced into traditional Medicare Parts A and B.
Third, proponents of ObamaCare guaranteed the law would cover health insurance for every American. When the debate began in 2009, an estimated 50 million people did not have health insurance for one reason or another. In spite of passage of ObamaCare, estimates now predict that at least 20 million people will remain uninsured.
Fourth, the American public was assured ObamaCare would eliminate or severely reduce waste, fraud and abuse within our health care system. Research shows that at least 10%, and perhaps as high as 30%, of the costs in Medicare and Medicaid (our two large existing government health insurance programs) go to waste, fraud and abuse. Unfortunately, there is nothing in ObamaCare that will eliminate this expensive waste.
Lastly, we were told that ObamaCare would improve the quality of our health care. Decreasing access to care for our seniors in Medicare and adding 16 to 20 million more people to the bankrupt Medicaid program will in no way improve the quality of health care for these patients.
ObamaCare has become increasingly unpopular since it passed two-and-a-half years ago. Experience with the law and concerns about the future make this growing unpopularity warranted.