Weekly Standard: Affordable Care Act Plan B

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Mitt Romney speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' 29th Annual Conference on June 21 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The health care debate presents a tricky situation for Romney, the law he signed as governor of Mass. contains many similarities to Obama's reforms. i i

hide captionMitt Romney speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' 29th Annual Conference on June 21 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The health care debate presents a tricky situation for Romney, the law he signed as governor of Mass. contains many similarities to Obama's reforms.

Gerardo Mora/Getty Images
Mitt Romney speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' 29th Annual Conference on June 21 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The health care debate presents a tricky situation for Romney, the law he signed as governor of Mass. contains many similarities to Obama's reforms.

Mitt Romney speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' 29th Annual Conference on June 21 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The health care debate presents a tricky situation for Romney, the law he signed as governor of Mass. contains many similarities to Obama's reforms.

Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and a columnist for the Washington Examiner.

In the event the Supreme Court does not put Obamacare out of our misery next week, Mitt Romney ought be ready to roll with the punches and come out at once with Plan B. Plan A was to have the Court sever it neatly with one swing of the axe, but there was always the possibility the Court would not follow the returns of the recent elections. Plan B should be the political process, which involves not the minds of nine, but the intent of millions, expressed in the usual ways. Thus, Plan B should be to elect politicians who will undo Obamacare with the tools given their branches of government. And so, Romney ought to say this:

MY FELLOW AMERICANS: It is now up to us. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — which protects no one, and which will bankrupt the country — is not unconstitutional, but that does not mean it is good. A number of things that are legal are in many ways bad: It is legal to lie (except under oath), or to stay home all day watching TV in your skivvies; but it's best not to do so, and we'd rather you'd not.

And legal or not, this health care act is a disaster — born in deceit, passed in arrogance in the face of the will and the rage of the people, it has caused dissent and contention since its inception, and this has hardly worn off over time. People have not learned to love it: Their anger has deepened. Resistance hasn't diminished: It has grown. The problem is not that it expands coverage; that intention is laudable. The problem is that it is a 2,700 page blunderbuss that tries to assert central control over 16 percent of a $14 trillion economy, over the choices and actions of nearly six million health care professionals, and over the health care decisions and choices of the more than 300 million American citizens with whom they all interact. This country is drowning in debt, (along with everyone else in the first-world community), and this bill will cost much, much more than was claimed when they passed it, and that, let us remember, was quite bad enough.

When it was passed in March, 2010, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected its cost at $940 billion for the ten years to follow (2010-2019). That was the estimate that members of Congress heard when they voted for the bill. But the legislation was always designed to put the highest costs in more distant years: Its coverage provisions are estimated to cost $66 billion in 2014 but will rise to $265 billion by 2022. And so CBO's latest ten-year projection has grown to $1.76 trillion (for 2012-2022), which is simply debilitating for the federal budget. Large parts of this law have been proven unworkable, waivers have been showered on hundreds of cronies; businessmen, doctors, patients, and governors have all pleaded for relief from its mercies. It is already inflicting dire harm.

It is having a catastrophic effect on the practice of medicine, with hospitals closing, health care more expensive, fewer companies selling insurance, fewer choices among the options remaining, and those more expensive, and more and more doctors and health care professionals either quitting the business, or planning to. In just a few instances since the bill passed, a firm based in Iowa stopped selling health care insurance, stranding about 840,000 former consumers; construction was stopped on 45 new physician-owned hospitals; and the research group the Galen Institute cited more than a dozen instances in which companies either stopped selling health care insurance or went out of business in no less than in 20 states. As options are narrowing, prices have soared, owing to (a) the bill's insistence that all people be covered, regardless of pre-existing conditions; and (b) its simultaneous insistence that all policies be comprehensive (i.e., expensive), covering contingencies that most people don't want and don't need.

As a result, as Karl Rove tells us, "MIT professor Jonathan Gruber... hired to consult on the creation of the state insurance exchanges... has advised at least three states that health coverage premiums in the individual market would increase 19% to 30%" and the CBO has reported that by 2014, the millions who purchase their own insurance will pay at least $2,100 a year more than they do at present, and "If you own or work for a small business... you can expect the coverage to cost $19,200 a year for a family by 2016... and you must buy a policy or face federal fines."

Among those hardest hit are young people and families, who may not earn much and need no more than bare-bones and high-deductible policies, and people on Medicare, whose payments will be cut so dramatically that many hospitals will be unable to take them, and some doctors will refuse to see them at all. Along with Medicare patients, and the budgets of millions of middle-class families, this act also lays waste to research and development, father of all the innovations that save and improve our lives.

"To pay for the bill, Congress would levy a $2 billion annual tax on the medical device industry, which ardently opposes the legislation," writes the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger. Add to all this paperwork, new regulations, and the prospect of rationing, and it is not surprising that many doctors may be near suicidal, or, if not this, at least somewhat depressed. A study released in January 2011, found that 78 percent of the 2,958 physicians queried said that "the impact of the law would be negative," that they were "anxious about the future... concerned for their practices and their patients," and that "sixty-five percent said that they expect the quality of health care in America to deteriorate over the next five years."

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