The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 8, 2013

Health care reform law problems coming to bear

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Recently John Fund wrote in conservative National Review that Health and Human Services will pay the public relations firm of Weber Shandwick $3.1 million to improve the public image of the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare).

A few days later liberal Politico wrote that “Congressional leaders in both parties are engaged in high level talks about exempting lawmakers and Capital Hill aids from the insurance exchanges they are mandated to join...” as part of the ACA. That was expeditiously denied the next day. Maybe it’s time for some reflection on the ACA. Prior to passage the influential Kaiser Family Foundation advocated for the ACA.

After passage in March 2010, on a straight partisan vote, the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll displayed an ACA approval rating of 46 percent.

In March 2013, three years after passage, the same Kaiser Health Tracking Poll displayed the ACA’s overall approval rating had declined 9 points, to 37 percent. Disregard Kaiser’s poll results if you choose, but it has always been an outlier poll finding support for the ACA when it was almost impossible to glean from other polls.

Then Speaker Pelosi’s shocking comment prior to passage that we need to pass the ACA so we can find out what’s in it was prophetic. We have since learned the 2,700 page law includes at least 21 new taxes.

More than 15,000 pages of regulations have been added since passage. Moreover, it will not be completely phased in until 2014, maybe even 2020.

Since passage the initial cost projection of $938 billion (after a $712 million cut in Medicare) has increased to $1.3 trillion; numerous “temporary waivers” have been granted; the cost of health care continues to skyrocket; insurance premiums are increasing significantly rather than decreasing as promised.

Doctors are considering early retirement rather than try to comply. The cost to set-up exchanges has doubled to $4.4 billion. Tens of thousands of health care professionals, union workers and community organizers are to be hired by federal and state governments to act as “navigators” to help Americans determine eligibility and choose options because the process is so complex (some businesses may have only one option). Thousands of additional IRS agents will be hired to monitor compliance — and on and on.

On April 8 speaking at the Harvard School of Public Health, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius conceded that implementing the ACA has been more complicated and frustrating than expected. On April 9 Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., one of the towering architects of the ACA, said: “I believe the Affordable Care Act is probably the most complex piece of legislation ever passed by the United States Congress. Tax reform obviously has been huge too, but up to this point it is just beyond comprehension.”

On April 17 Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, who voted for the ACA, told HHS Secretary Sebelius: “I just see a huge train wreck coming down.”

I believe the ACA is a job killer, unpopular, unaffordable and probably unworkable. Trying to fix it by tinkering around the edges is not the solution, in my opinion.

Bob Jentges is a former teacher, coach and insurance claims superintendent and is part a team of Free Press readers invited to comment more frequently on issues of the day. He lives in North Mankato and considers himself a conservative.