The Obamacare Disaster — Time to Stop Gloating and Get Serious About Reform

Ever since President Obama released the news last week that he was delaying implementation of Obamacare’s employer mandate requirement, there has been an awful lot of gloating from Republicans:

“Obamacare is so poorly designed, it can’t even be implemented in 4 years!”

“The big government philosophy is collapsing under its own weight!”

“Even Obama is now forced to acknowledge that the law is unpopular and an unacceptable drag on economic growth!”

“He’s undermining the Constitution to avoid the consequences of his own major domestic policy ‘achievement!’”

It’s like the GOP has won the lottery.  After failing to kill Obamacare in Congress and in the courts, Obamacare might nonetheless die because President Obama is unwilling and unable to implement it (and he’s had 4 years, folks — *four* — with an army of federal workers and private contractors at his disposal).

Republicans are now looking at other strategies designed to sink the law before it even gets started — they’ll push for a delay in the individual mandate (after all, if it would be burdensome and unfair to require employers to comply, why make individuals?), and absent a such a voluntary concession from Washington (which really would kill Obamacare for good, one would think) Republicans might attempt to pass a law that prohibits the government from providing subsidies for mandatory health insurance without income and employer verification (essentially eliminating the subsidies that would make care under the “Affordable Care Act” somewhat affordable because employer verification will be difficult to impossible given the delay in implementation on the employer mandate).

Yeah, America! USA! USA! USA! . . . .

Now, anyone who has read this blog knows that I’m not particularly fond of Obamacare.  I thought it was poorly designed and standards for implementation were unclear and relied too much on implementation by the laws avowed enemies.  It wasn’t an actual solution to the problems restricting Americans’ access to healthcare so much as it was an attempt to achieve a longtime political goal — universal coverage.  I mean, c’mon — the solution to rising healthcare costs is subsidizing premiums paid to private insurers and imposing economic costs on employers who don’t fire employees or cut their hours??!!  Obamacare was unpopular when it was passed, and implementation was delayed to avoid potential political consequences.  It was passed in the midst of a financial crisis only with the understanding that “this is a first step” and “we’ll fix it later.”  That’s a recipe for success . . . .

Don’t get me wrong — Obamacare does some nice things.  But government gets into trouble when it tries to do nice things instead of solving problems (a byproduct of which are some nice things).  Heck, government often gets into trouble sometimes when it actually sets out to solve a problem . . . .

Somewhat predictably, the effort at healthcare reform has degenerated into a near disaster (President Obama’s attempts at damage control notwithstanding).

  • It’s a disaster that Obamacare hasn’t been implemented nearly four years after it was passed.  I mean, really, how does this happen?
  • It’s a disaster that companies have spent all this time and money — and already laid people off or cut their hours, don’t forget — getting ready to comply with a law whose key provisions have now been delayed.  And why was the law delayed?  Because compliance is too complex and too costly?  Under what rationale do those problems go away in a year?
  • It’s a disaster that despite that with all of Obamacare’s problems, shortcomings, and practical obstacles, the Democrats are inflexibly committed to a law that’s a sinking ship.
  • And let me also say that it’s a disaster, that despite four years spent fretting, complaining, attempting to repeal, and litigating, the GOP still has no alternative proposal.

Yes, GOP — you don’t get off easy on this, either.  You’ve spent the last three years obsessively trying to sink this law –ostensibly for the good of the country rather than your own political benefit — and have yet to seriously pursue or promote a single meaningful alternative to solve the real problems of rising healthcare costs and restricted access, especially to preventative care.  This country is suspicious and wary of Obamacare (and rightfully so, in my view) but it is crying out for solutions to the problem of rising healthcare costs — for healthcare reform that actually makes sense.  And your only response is to make sure that President Obama and the Democrats “own” a bad law??!!  That’s unacceptable.  Oh, and it’s a losing strategy in the end.  Want to make sure that Obamacare survives, is resurrected, or reincarnated?  Keep on keeping on with the opposition only . . . .

We make fun of Canada and England for socialized medicine, and yet this is what our “best efforts” are getting us?

There are some alternative paths out there, including national health.  But take a look at the links below, which discuss some more market-oriented reforms to get you started thinking (most of which, by the way, contain components of Obamacare):

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/05/30/what-real-health-care-reform-looks-like/

http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/how-to-replace-obamacare

http://money.cnn.com/2009/08/18/news/economy/obamacare_alternative.fortune/

http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/30/what-is-reform-conservatism/

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/03/29/the-health-care-disaster-and-the-miseries-of-blue/

It’s beyond time to get serious about real reform to the problem of healthcare costs.  Put aside cherished political goals and solve the problem.  It’s solvable, so let’s get going.

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About Curt Bentley

is an attorney practicing commercial litigation, non-profit law, and intellectual property law in Utah at his firm Bentley Briggs & Lynch. In his spare time, he attempts to impersonate a jazz pianist, gardens, and dodges rattlesnakes and stirs up other trouble while running on Utah's amazing trails.

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  • http://attackofthebooks.com/ Daniel Burton

    I don’t think any one opposes healthcare reform, including Republicans. However, it’s hard to reform the system when there’s a giant “slug,” a metaphore that Daniel Henninger recently used with colorful effect in the WSJ, sitting in the middle of the road to reform. You can’t just keep doing the things you’ve always done and expect the same results.

    You call it “gloating;” I call it pointing out to the voting public that big, complex government programs are not “reforms” or “solutions.” Until that’s understood, we’ll just keep creating new problems to solve the problems that we created ourselves in the first place. Further, it’s hard to reform without pulling out and removing another problem, first. In this case, the problem really is the solution, and I see little wrong with Republicans doing their best to point out that the solution is bad for America and fighting it’s implementation. At the very least their methods of fighting it are political and legal rather than dubiously constitutional.

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