This commentary originally appeared in The Hill on January 13, 2017.
News outlets are replete with stories of how Americans will supposedly lose their insurance if the incoming administration repeals The Affordable Care Act( ACA), commonly known as ObamaCare. What about the gains from repeal?
Start with the millions who lost insurance they liked as a result of the ACA: could they get their old, affordable insurance back? And the spouses who were cut out of employer-supported health policies because of ACA: maybe they can regain coverage after repeal? Obamacare wiped out existing health care plans in ten states: they could come back.
When ACA's imposed massive new costs on insurance carriers, most simply cannot afford it. UnitedHealth, Humana, Aetna, and Anthem lost over a billion dollars in 2015 and had to stop selling insurance. ACA is why Tyler, Texas, like hundreds of other counties nationally, has only one carrier selling health insurance. These companies have federally created monopolies just like Mylan, the EpiPen manufacturer and gouger of the public purse.
With repeal of ObamaCare, carriers can re-enter the market to sell insurance, compete with each other (no monopolies), and drive down prices. They would no longer After repeal, carriers would be released to sell insurance we like and can afford, instead of being forced to sell only Obama’s unnecessary, unwanted, and unaffordable policies.
As a result of cancelling ACA, we will take home more money. Repeal will eliminate ObamaCare’s 16 taxes as well as the employer mandate. This will leave more money in our wallets and reduce business costs allowing employers to hire new people. More jobs mean fewer people who need financial assistance from government. Many who simply gave up during the recession could re-enter the workforce.
Why do we see none of these gains-by-repeal in the media?
Having more money in our wallets and creating jobs are certainly attractive benefits to a repeal of ACA. However, there is a greater gain we can acquire: access to care.
ObamaCare did increase the number of insured Americans by giving away no-cost-to-patient health insurance with “better” (Obama’s word, not mine).
More than seventy percent, one source says ninety-seven percent, of the newly insured got their insurance through Medicaid expansion. This expended lots of money, hundreds of billions of dollars in fact.
Now add the costs of the ACA’s expanded bureaucracy: eleven million words in the first round of regulations in the Federal Register; consultations by Jonathan Gruber and others; six new federal agencies in an organizational chart that resembles the Los Angeles freeway system; new verification, authorization, and compliance procedures; risk corridors; failed co-ops; and tens of thousands of newly hired ACA bureaucrats.
ACA expended more than two trillion “healthcare” dollars for unwanted benefits, incomprehensible processes, and unnecessary bureaucracy. Where did Washington get those $2,000,000,000,000? Observe the real world to find out.
By expanding Medicaid, the state of New Mexico added more than 300,000 enrollees, swelling their list to 830,000 individuals: 41 percent of the state population. Despite more than $3 billion additional dollars from Washington, New Mexico Medicaid had a $416 million budget shortfall for 2017.
The only thing they could do while remaining compliant with the ACA was to cut reimbursements to doctors, which they did. When you cut reimbursements to service providers, you cut services to patient.
The same sequence of events has played out in every state, even ones that did not expand Medicaid. This is simple ObamaCare arithmetic: more insured people + more mandated expenses = reduced care services.
Repeal of ACA can reverse this process. It will stop the financial hemorrhage due to the bureaucracy taking healthcare dollars away from health care service. Repeal will give our healthcare system a chance to do what it is actually supposed to do: care for us.
None of the above addresses the second half of repeal and replace. After repeal, what should Washington replace ObamaCare with? Nothing. A real cure would get Washington out of the healthcare business where it doesn’t belong and put healthcare where it can be both effective and efficient: in the states. Maybe that will be our New Year’s present from the incoming administration.