Prior to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as ObamaCare, the Congressional Budget Office issued an analysis of the bill stating that it would result in a reduction in federal deficits of $143 billion between 2010 and 2019. This projected deficit reduction was never very convincing. It relied on politically untenable cuts in Medicare and Medicaid physician reimbursement — cuts that have already been forestalled for another year by Congress and the President. It counted as savings minor reductions in enormous future outlays. It was skewed because the tax increases in the bill began almost immediately while much of the spending — including, for example, a long-term at-home healthcare benefit that the CBO projected would “add to future federal budget deficits in a large and growing fashion” — will not commence for several years. And it did not include $115 billion in probable additional spending because of the speed with which the bill was rammed through Congress. (Most of these matters were raised by Richard Foster, chief Medicare actuary, in a pair of reports, one during the congressional debate on the bill and one last August.)
Benjamin Franklin is supposed to have said, quite presciently, “When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” Americans found out in a big way during the 20th century that they could rob their neighbors via the voting booth. And senior citizens, among the most regular and outspoken voters, made sure they got the lion’s share of the loot with two huge entitlement programs: Medicare and Social Security.
Back in September, when Republicans first floated the idea of starving the ObamaCare beast, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius argued that "what the Republicans will be faced with" when they try to defund ObamaCare "is really taking those benefits away," something the Obama administration was counting on to be a losing proposition for the GOP. The "benefits" to which Sebelius was referring include such things as the prohibition of denying health insurance to persons with pre-existing conditions, the extension of dependent coverage for children up to age 26, and the ban on lifetime coverage caps.
When, in 2009, the American Medical Association (AMA) endorsed President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform bill, many Americans probably assumed that most physicians therefore backed the legislation. In fact, that was not the case at all.
In the original Star Wars, rebels fighting for freedom from the Empire destroyed Darth Vader’s Death Star, which was capable of obliterating an entire planet. The Empire was reluctant to part with such an instrument of death, however, so the Death Star was rebuilt in Return of the Jedi.
Score one for the Constitution. U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson, in Richmond, Virginia, ruled December 13 that the ObamaCare individual mandate and its related penalties are unconstitutional, a welcome change of pace from two earlier rulings in favor of the Obama administration.
You win some; you lose some. In October, a federal judge in Michigan dismissed a lawsuit challenging ObamaCare’s individual mandate, arguing that Congress has the power to impose such a mandate under the Commerce Clause. A week later a federal judge in Florida permitted a similar lawsuit to proceed because he believed that the individual mandate stretched the Commerce Clause beyond the breaking point, saying that for him it “is not even a close call.” A Virginia federal judge had previously permitted another lawsuit to proceed on similar grounds.
In a November 20 New York Times story, Robert Pear writes: “Consumer advocates fear that the health care law could worsen some of the very problems it was meant to solve — by reducing competition, driving up costs and creating incentives for doctors and hospitals to stint on care.”
“They passed it without even reading it. But we’ve read it now. And it’s even worse than we thought.”