Sunday, March 23, was the fourth anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”). Cascade founder and senior policy analyst Steve Buckstein predicted then that ObamaCare would “represent much more a violation of individual liberty than an improvement in American health care.”
Four years later, the law remains mired in controversy, confusion, and dysfunction. The ACA has been challenged from numerous constitutional, philosophical, and moral angles; and the Supreme Court will hear a case this week challenging the ACA on First Amendment grounds.
Buckstein wrote in 2010:
When we founded Cascade Policy Institute in 1991, our mission was, and still is, to promote public policy alternatives that foster individual liberty, personal responsibility and economic opportunity. This bill threatens to set us back in all three areas:
Individual liberty will be violated as the federal government takes away even more of our options regarding what insurance, if any, we choose to purchase and how we purchase it.
Personal responsibility will be decimated as the federal government tells us “don’t worry about taking care of yourself; we’ll do that collectively from now on.”
Economic opportunity will be stifled as the tax burden on individual workers, employers and investors go up, not down. Without meaningful cost controls, health care costs will spiral, leading to higher federal deficits and to even more government involvement in the economy.
When the bill’s supporters tell us that every other industrialized country has national health insurance, our response should be, “America is not every country; America is supposed to be the land of the free.”
We now see that most of these predictions are coming all too true. Not even considering the HealthCare.gov website disaster, and the totally dysfunctional Cover Oregon website debacle, it appears that more people may be losing their health insurance coverage than have gained new coverage under this deeply flawed law. The Congressional Budget Office now estimates the law will cause the equivalent of two million jobs to be lost by 2017. The 2013 PolitiFact Lie of the Year was President Obama’s oft-told fib, “If you like your health care plan you can keep it.” Only a fraction of those who have signed up under ObamaCare exchanges are the “young and healthy” the scheme needs to pay higher premiums to subsidize the “old and sick.” It seems that younger people would vote for Obama, but they won’t follow him off a health care cost spiral cliff.
With the first ObamaCare open enrollment period ending on March 31, its flaws will certainly be hard to gloss over.* Rather than carve out even more exemptions to the law, the administration should admit that they got it wrong. Then we can have an honest discussion about how to move toward real insurance reform using market principles that offer true affordable alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, which has proven anything but.
* The administration is now expected on March 26th to announce an extension of the March 31st open enrollment deadline for certain individuals.