Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Well, Congress passed it, and now we are
finding out what is in it

Commentary by James H. Shott

On March 9, 2010, speaking to the Legislative Conference for the National Association of Counties about the health care reform bill, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it ..."

Ms. Pelosi was oblivious to the high degree of arrogance in her statement, and the contempt it displayed for the America taxpayers who pay her salary, and so were her fellow travelers in Congress and the fawning liberals in the main stream media. But it was not lost on most of the American people.

Even though no one knew all of the horrors contained in the 2,700-page document – because no one had had the time to read the thing before it was voted on, including those who voted for it – the measure still managed to garner the opposition of a majority of Americans.

The amended version’s narrow margin of passage in the House of Representatives – 219 to 212 – reflects the unpopularity of the measure, with 34 Democrats joining all of the Republicans in opposing the bill. But the final vote also shows the effects of the 59 percent Democrat majority in the House that dragged the bill across the line, despite the objection of voters.

The bad news continues to roll in, although if you depend upon the main stream media for information, you likely don’t know that.

Citing data from the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Establishment Survey/Haver Analytics, the Heritage Foundation addressed Obamacare’s effect on employment: “Between the recession’s low point in January 2009 and April 2010 net private sector job creation improved by 67,500 jobs a month. President Obama signed his health care legislation into law on March 23, 2010. After April 2010, the improvement in net private sector job creation stalled, dropping to just 6,500 jobs a month.”

The Heritage Foundation's Senior Policy Analyst James Sherk explains that the law discourages employers from hiring in several ways:
• Businesses with fewer than 50 workers have a strong incentive to maintain this size, which allows them to avoid the mandate to provide government-approved health coverage or face a penalty;
• Businesses with more than 50 workers will see their costs for health coverage rise—they must purchase more expensive government-approved insurance or pay a penalty; and
• Employers face considerable uncertainty about what constitutes qualifying health coverage and what it will cost. They also do not know what the health care market or their health care costs will look like in four years. This makes planning for the future difficult.
Kaiser Health News reported recently that contrary to promises of miraculous results from its passage, the health care reform bill will cause spending to grow faster than before the health care overhaul, and that “with that growth, the nation is expected to spend $4.6 trillion on health care in 2020, nearly double the $2.6 trillion spent last year.”

Kaiser based its report on information from the Medicare Office of the Actuary, and further reported that beginning in 2014 when the major coverage expansions of the health care law take effect, the number of Americans covered by their employer’s health insurance will increase to 170 million from 163 million last year, which tends to support the promise of health care reform that it would cover heretofore uninsured Americans.

However, the Medicare Actuary goes on to say that 2 million of those will drop off the roles as some of them age into Medicare, and others lose coverage as employers respond to increased costs.

They expect the penalty for high-cost “Cadillac” insurance plans to convince some employers to provide less generous insurance plans, while other employers in certain industries such as retail sales are expected to reclassify many full-time employees as part-time, allowing the employer to escape the substantial expense of health insurance plans under Obamacare. Further, some large employers with low-wage employees are expected to discontinue offering health insurance to their workers and instead pay the penalty mandated in the Affordable Care Act.

When major provisions of the law go into effect in 2014, the actuaries project a spending increase of 8.3 percent. And as more individuals qualify for Medicare, that program’s spending is predicted to increase by more than 20 percent. “For 2015-20,” according to the actuaries, “national health spending growth is projected to average 6.2 percent per year.”

Furthermore, Obamacare requires the creation of at least 159 new federal commissions and boards for healthcare reform. And a new analysis by the Joint Economic Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee minority staff estimates up to 16,500 new IRS personnel will be needed to collect, examine and audit new tax information mandated on families and small businesses in the reform legislation – just what we need in this economy: more federal employees and red tape.

This boondoggle has few advantages and a multitude of negatives. It is another Obama promise that not only hasn’t materialized, but does real harm to the country. The manner in which it was passed was scandalous and un-seemly, and it must be repealed as soon as possible.

Cross-posted from Observations

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