Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

March 26, 2013

A national tragedy: We are learning what is really in Obamacare

— — Many thanks to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi for jamming the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act through the House of Representatives so that finally the people could “find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy,” as Ms. Pelosi so famously said two years ago. This unintentional revelation of what goes on in Ms. Pelosi’s mind came in the heat of the battle between the liberal Congress and the American people, a majority of whom opposed this first step in a government takeover of our health care system. The American people lost that battle.

Of course, now that the odious gunk contained in the Affordable Care Act, now affectionately known as “Obamacare,” has started oozing out, even the people who voted to approve the measure now realize how little they knew about it when the vote was taken.

Searching President Barack Obama’s florid promises for a truthful statement about all the wonderful things the ACA would do for us is more challenging than Diogenes’ trying to find an honest man.

Like your doctor? You can keep your doctor. Nope!

Like your insurance? You can keep your insurance. Nope!

It will lower costs. Nope!

After all the broken promises, there are also some new goodies in Obamacare:

There are 18 new taxes, estimated at about $800 billion, that will mostly affect America’s middle class. And inflation, the cruelest tax on the poor, will increase as businesses find their operation burdened with added costs brought about by higher taxes and onerous government mandates, and pass those costs along to the consumer in the form of higher prices.

Obamacare will add $6.2 trillion (That’s “trillion” with a “t"!) to the long-term deficit, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Medicare providers will be expected to continue to provide services despite a cut of $716 billion in payments. Added bureaucracy will make applying for health care even more burdensome than it already is; worse than that, an estimated 7 million people will lose their employer-provided health insurance; and worse yet, thousands of workers will find their hours cut or will lose their jobs entirely.

Just what we need: another government mandate that keeps unemployment unacceptably high.

Opponents of Obamacare warned that forcing companies employing 50 or more full-time workers to buy health insurance for their employees would result in a loss of jobs overall, and many full-time workers would have their hours reduced below the 30-hour weekly threshold. Even though the employer mandate does not go into effect until next January, employers are required to track worker’s hours for up to 12 months prior to that, meaning that job and hours cuts have already begun so that employers can escape the $2,000 per-worker fine for uncovered employees, or have to bear the even higher costs of providing health insurance to full-time workers.

So, rather than increasing the number of employees getting insurance from their employers as advertised, Obamacare has instead caused employees to have their hours reduced, or cost them their jobs entirely.

These decisions are being made by more than a few businesses. The International Franchise Association finds that 31 percent of franchisees plan to cut staff to avoid Obamacare’s 50-employee mandate, and a study by Mercer consulting firm found that half of businesses that don’t presently offer health insurance plan to reduce employee hours to avoid Obamacare’s penalties.

The food industry has been particularly hard hit, including: Kroger, Wendy’s, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Burger King, McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell, and Papa John’s Pizza. Also affected are government workers across the nation, for the same reasons.

If not keeping your doctor or your insurance policy if you wanted to is not bad enough, or if thousands of Americans losing the jobs or having their hours reduced to less than 30 a week isn’t bad enough, how about thousands of doctors taking down their shingles? According to a survey from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, six in 10 physicians said they expect many of their colleagues to retire earlier than planned in the next one to three years.

Another 55 percent of doctors surveyed believe many of their colleagues will cut back on their hours because of the way medicine is changing, and 75 percent believe the best and brightest may not consider a career in medicine, up from 69 percent in 2011.

How could the smartest man every to inhabit the Oval Office have been so desperately wrong? Curious people want to know: Did Barack Obama just not have a clue about what the law that now bears his name would actually do, or did he deliberately deceive people about what it would do in order to gain their support for it?

There is a faction that firmly believes that if people lose their private sector insurance coverage, or can’t afford it, that is precisely what Mr. Obama wants, thus making his dream of a single-payer government health care system a reality.

So, will our public servants act to relieve us of this “Obomination?” They should remember that there are Senate and House elections in 2014. And so should we.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.

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