Starting next year, once it becomes fully implemented, Obamacare will represent one-sixth of the entire United States economy. As such, it will intimately affect every person in America.
Many citizens are rightfully concerned by an alarming amount of evidence showing that this supposed healthcare miracle pill will instead squeeze the middle class, cause insurance premiums to keep skyrocketing, while also negatively impacting job creation.
By Victor Thorn
Beginning in January, approximately 34 million more people will find themselves newly insured under Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). Half of these individuals will be placed on Medicaid, while the remainder should expect to navigate their way through what are called “exchanges.” These exchanges are, in essence, marketplaces established in different regions of the country by the federal government, states, or a combination therein. Supposedly, consumers will be able to shop for the best healthcare plan that suits their needs.
Since these exchanges play such a vital role in the success of Obamacare, it’s unnerving when Sally Pipes, President of the Pacific Research Institute—a non-profit think tank that espouses limited government—wrote on May 27 for Forbes magazine, “An Obamacare train wreck isn’t a distant possibility. It’s actively happening. Delays, wasteful spending and cost overruns have already popped up.”
To better understand these exchanges, on May 29 AMERICAN FREE PRESS spoke with Jane Orient, M.D., a board certified doctor since 1977 and managing editor for the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
When asked about these exchanges, Orient replied, “Nobody understands them, even the people setting them up. They’re complex, high-risk, and you can’t have competition if the government dictates everything.”
In terms of what she envisions for 2014, Orient explained, “The purpose of Obamacare is to hammer the medical system we now have and do away with the patient-physician arrangement. Doctors will eventually be turned into employees of huge medical institutions. My biggest worry is that people won’t be able to see doctors, not to mention rising insurance premiums. Ultimately, socialized medicine will destroy private enterprise. It’s a redistribution of wealth where certain people will be robbed to pay for others in high risk categories.”
These aren’t the only costs that will increase. On May 29 AFP interviewed Nick Kasprak, an analyst for the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan research group based in Washington, D.C. Kasprak commented on what he foresaw. “Anyone that says they know exactly how Obamacare will unfold is making things up.”
He continued, “One thing is certain: there will be lots of hidden taxes. Most people won’t see excise taxes or medical device taxes directly in their paychecks, but it will raise the cost of medical care. In this regard, it obviously undermines transparency.”
Another result of Obamacare is already being felt. Namely, not only do Americans pay more for healthcare than anywhere else in the world, they’re also getting gouged by astronomical increases in insurance premiums.
On May 30 this writer contacted a small business owner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to discuss this subject. He told AFP, “Last September my medical insurance rose 44% compared to the previous year. But that’s not the worst part. An executive from Highmark Blue Cross told me, ‘This is the tip of the iceberg. You’re not going to believe where this is going next.’”
Confusing matters even more are a couple of other factors. First, Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius admitted on April 8 that upwards of 24 million Americans will have to surrender their current insurance policies. Even if they’re able to retain their coverage, according to a May 15 press release by Representative Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Chairman of the the House Ways and Means Committee: “Obamacare will require American job creators, families and healthcare providers to spend over 190 million hours per year on compliance.”
Considering this huge burden on our collective time, Dr. Orient offered her opinion. “Obamacare is a total political game. It should be obvious to anyone paying attention that it will be disastrous, and sadly, medical care will become less available and accessible.”
Four Big Unions Pulling Support for Obamacare
Once staunch advocates, unions see Obamacare as a huge disaster
Once his most ardent supports, four unions touting millions of members have publicly voiced their displeasure with Obamacare. These unions include the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), UNITE HERE, and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers.
The most vocal critic has been UFCW President Joseph T. Hansen, who took issue with Obama’s 2009 pledge to the AFL-CIO in Pittsburgh where he vowed, “Nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change your coverage.”
Hansen sees it differently. On May 21 he complained, “the president’s statement to labor in 2009 is simply not true for millions of workers. You can’t have the same quality healthcare that we had before, despite what the president said.”
The crux of this controversy entails the fact that the lead-up to Obamacare has caused already high insurance premiums to soar even more. As a consequence, many employers will simply not be able to afford these rate hikes, leading them to either offer less expensive insurance plans or dump workers into Affordable Care Act exchanges.
For decades, unions have always used top-notch healthcare benefits as a bargaining chip. But if Obamacare’ takes precedence by providing a substandard alternative, unions will have lost one of their biggest draws in attracting new members. With decreased dues, this could further accelerate the decline of organized labor.
Moreover, in a few years Obamacare won’t allow companies to enjoy tax subsidies for their expensive Cadillac healthcare plans. Thus, businesses will be stripped of any incentive to fork over valuable dollars for these benefits packages. In addition, due to prohibitions against discriminating in favor of one group over another, Obamacare can’t give union constituencies the special breaks they’re demanding.
One point becomes crystal clear in this debate: If Obamacare exchanges were so appealing, why are millions of union members objecting so vehemently to being included in them? If they don’t want any part of these exchanges, shouldn’t that be an indicator to the rest of America?
Employers Cannot Afford Obama Plan
Few statements could better exemplify the predicament that Obamacare has placed American workers in than one uttered on April 11 by Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot.
“If employees are thrown out of their medical plans,” Marcus observed, “where they’re covered in a good plan, [and] if they don’t stay as full-time employees but go to part-time, they’re going to be destroyed. People have to understand that the villain is not their employer. The villain is the U.S. government. Obamacare is the capper. That’s the bullet to the temple.”
The impetus for these remarks revolves around a huge loophole in the ACA. Specifically, if employers don’t provide healthcare for their employees, they’ll be forced to pay a $2K fine per worker. But there are two exceptions: first, the cut-off line for these mandates is 50 employees, while full-time status is defined as 30 hours or more per week.
So, to avoid penalties, employers with less than 50 workers likely won’t expand, whereas entities such as restaurants, hotels and fast food outlets will keep new hires below 30 hours per week.
In a May 2 letter to his employees, Michael Ortner, president of the software company Capterra, Inc., said that healthcare costs now constitute his company’s third highest expense. The situation is even more dire in California. On May 30, healthcare policy adviser Avik Roy revealed what citizens under the age of 40 should expect. “California announced that the ACA would increase non-group insurance premiums by as much as 146%.”
If this figure sounds outrageous, on December 18, 2012, Mark Bertolini, CEO of insurance giant Aetna, disclosed, “We’re going to see some markets go up by as much as 100%.”
The last thing a sluggish economy that has stagnated for at least half-a-decade needs is another job killer. Still, on May 30, U.S. Representative Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) cited none other than our nation’s most powerful financial institution. “A report from the Federal Reserve shows business owners cited Obamacare as their main reason for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.”
Will IRS Derail Obamacare
With expected costs of Obamacare soaring into the trillions, an increasing number of citizens are disgruntled about being forced, under penalty of law, to purchase a service that they don’t want. As if Obamacare’s negatives weren’t already bad enough, reams of evidence prove that IRS officials engaged in political profiling against enemies that has its precedent in the Nixon administration. Democrats and Republicans alike are demanding: do we really want this heavy-handed tax agency to be the enforcement arm of the Affordable Care Act?
Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens, says no. On May 17 he stated, “[Obamacare] gives the IRS new, unfettered access to sensitive medical records. It’s a pretty scary thought considering the revelations of misconduct. You’ve got to ask yourself this question: do we want the IRS to be in control of our medical histories?”
Considering that many of the IRS culprits have actually received promotions and six-figure bonuses for their treacherous snooping activities and harassment, it’s also unnerving that IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House 157 times during Obama’s first term. His predecessor, Mark Everson, only ventured to the White House once over the same four-year period.
Does anyone realistically believe that the Obama administration took a “hands off” approach to IRS pit bulls that targeted pro-life groups, small businesses, religious organizations, the tea party, and members of the media?
On May 20 freelance journalist John Lillpop put the IRS matter into perspective. “Americans are paying hundreds of billions of dollars each year to fund a corrupt, biased, lying gaggle of unaccountable accountants and bean counters whose sole mission in life is to intimidate and harm American citizens.”
Lillpop’s solution: kill two birds with one stone by abolishing the IRS and repealing Obamacare.
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 40 books.