We recently passed the fifth anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – or ObamaCare, as it is readily known. With most anniversaries, one looks back over time that has passed and celebrates the memories made and good times shared. Unfortunately for many Americans, this anniversary brings with it no cause for celebration. Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the past five years and recount five critical failures of ObamaCare since its passage in 2010.
5. Several state ObamaCare exchanges have failed; Hawaii’s exchange is next. Thus far, state exchanges in Oregon, Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, New Mexico, and Nevada have been shut down. Now it appears that Hawaii’s exchange may be next. Despite having “the most costly exchange in the nation,” enrollment not only failed to meet expectations set forth at the outset of the exchange, it never even met the bare minimum for the program to stay afloat. The amount of money wasted on the creation and maintenance of this failed program? Over 205 million dollars. Those are American taxpayer dollars, spent for naught. On a related note, the Supreme Court is currently weighing whether all Americans are eligible for federal tax subsidies, or only those individuals who live in states with exchanges. If the administration loses at the high court, subsidies in states that did not make their own exchanges could be lost. A decision will likely be made before the end of the month.
4. One of the selling features of ObamaCare was that it was supposed to reduce the amount of money that Americans spend on healthcare. This, so far, has proved untrue. One program set up by the healthcare law created Affordable Care Organizations (ACOs). This program was designed to streamline patient treatment, and, in turn, reward providers monetarily when the process worked, i.e. when money was saved, and penalize participants when it didn’t. In the initial ACO project alone, a third of the participants abandoned the new program for failure to save any more money than their old models. As stated in the Wall Street Journal, “COs are failing because HHS’s regulations are a classic case of counterproductive and arbitrary central planning.” A new government program that does nothing to improve on an old government program is nothing more than a waste of time and money. It appears that a recurring theme is forming.
3. The rollout of the ObamaCare website, Healthcare.gov, was an utter catastrophe. According to the Government Accountability Office in 2014, 840 million dollars was spent by the government on the healthcare website and its related systems. Despite that astronomical figure, the website, in short, simply failed to work from the very first day it launched and took two months before the website was operational. Again, we see an absolute failure of a costly government program and further waste of taxpayer time and money.
2. ObamaCare creates an incentive for employers to cut their employees’ working hours. Finally implemented at the beginning of this year, the employer mandate requires that employers with at least 100 full-time employees must offer health insurance to at least 70 percent of those employees. This offering is quite expensive and, naturally, provides an incentive for companies to employ fewer full-time workers. Unfortunately for the American worker, companies are cashing in on that deal, so far costing employees $22 billion in wages they otherwise would have received.
1. President Obama’s broken promise that even with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Americans could keep their health plans if they chose to do so has been written about many times. Nevertheless, it bears repeating here. PolitiFact declared the President’s promise the Lie of the Year in 2013 as roughly four million Americans received notice that their healthcare plans were being cancelled. The uncovering of this falsehood cost the President his credibility with opponents and supporters alike, in addition to seeing his favorability numbers crash in the polls. Despite the implementation of a “fix” that would have permitted state insurance programs to lengthen the life of current plans, it did not require it. Some states have chosen not to utilize that fix.
Knowing what we know now, with five years of hindsight to make our vision clearer, is our nation’s relationship with ObamaCare a healthy one – one worth celebrating more anniversaries in years to come? One has to ask: with the government losing taxpayer-earned money hand over fist on this program and its counterparts, the American worker losing additional wages at his workplace, and millions of Americans losing the healthcare coverage they formerly had, precisely whom is this program benefitting?
Moreover, if they could go back in time, would our congressional representatives vote differently? And perhaps most importantly, will American voters use the lessons learned in the past five years to influence their voting in the future? Only time, and future elections, will tell.
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