Scrap Obamacare, Reduce Costs

by Lyman Stone
Columnist

Now that Obamacare has entered the courts and has been “repealed” by the House (but obviously not by the Senate), we all get to play a waiting game. Will it become the latest extension of America’s welfare state, or will it be so much printed toilet paper?

As students, we have good reason to be concerned. Potential employers can be fined for not providing us health care, even if we are healthy and choose not to have employer-provided health care — meaning our employment opportunities, already diminished because of the recession, are further imperiled. Moreover, regardless of my youth and comparative health, I have to pay the same premium as a less healthy person entering the system.

To clarify, expensive-to-treat diseases are less common among 20-somethings than 70-somethings. Yet Obamacare mandates that we face the same basic premiums on our care — meaning I am stripped of one of the major economic gains of youth, cheaper health insurance.

Yet, you might say, “Well then, I just won’t purchase any health care. I’ll be on my own!” Not so fast, you rogue, self-sufficient anti-American fiend! If you opt out of health care for yourself, no matter how healthy you may be, you get to pay for someone else’s health care via a “shared responsibility payment,” a fine that was probably given its name by George Orwell.

While the federal courts have thus far ruled ambiguously about the law, some rejecting parts of it, some other parts, and some accepting it wholesale, the issue will likely be decided in the Supreme Court. But even then, Congress can weasel around our Constitution and judiciary. It can make functionally identical laws that achieve the same things, but with more legally hygienic wording.

Thus the reasoning behind President Barack Obama’s recent statement that he, oh generous bipartisan he, would be willing to allow states to opt out of some requirements three years before their current “opt-out” date — if they agree to implement plans that achieve the same thing. Very generous, Obama. Cover your back by saying you won’t force individuals to buy health care, you’ll force states to force individuals. That’s very constitutional.

Sarcasm aside, America does need health reform. But it needs reform that actually reduces fundamental costs of service, not that just squeezes extra money from people, such as employers, young people, higher tax brackets and others. This plan needs to be scrapped. It should be beaten in the courts and beaten in Congress.
That done, Republicans should propose a series of health reform bills dealing with individual measures, with the objective of passing as many measures as possible. If they fail to do this, if they try to make a huge bundle they cannot pass, if they fail to address the issue wholesale, they will suffer in the 2014 elections, and rightly, for we ourselves will suffer.

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