Unlike Social Security or Medicare, which produced few if any losers and a vast population of winners, the ranks of ObamaCare losers are growing with every price increase and mandate imposed. Which means that no matter who is elected in 2016, Americans are likely to want the next Congress to overhaul this mess rather than merely preserve a law that is doing at least as much harm as good.
We believe it is time to reform the filibuster once again. Specifically, it should be eliminated for all appropriations bills and for all judicial nominations, though retained for other legislation. We would also abolish the filibuster for any vote on the repeal of a federal law. These changes would not revolutionize our system of government, but would help restore Congress to the role it is supposed to have in the Founders’ design. To see why, we must recur to the first principles of our Constitution.
As passed by the House and following enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015
Less than a third of Americans support the individual mandate, three-fourths oppose Obamacare’s tax on high-end health-care programs, and more voters oppose the law categorically than support it. A quarter of voters say the law has hurt them personally. The question isn’t why Republicans haven’t gotten around to repealing and replacing it — the answer to that question resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a while, still — the question is when Democrats will get around to admitting that, purity of their hearts notwithstanding, they and they alone — not one Republican voted for Obamacare — have created a mess that has introduced nothing to American health care except chaos.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin is the president of the American Action Forum and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. He also served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. With the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces beginning their third open enrollment this week, RealClearHealth talked to Holtz-Eakin about what’s working, what’s not working, what can be done today to address problems with the law, and what should be on the agenda of a new administration in 2017.
For the press, the debate over ObamaCare is over. There may be a few proverbial Japanese soldiers wandering on isolated islands yammering on about the failure of ObamaCare, but word will eventually filter down to them, too.
This assumption is so deeply embedded that it is impervious to new evidence that ObamaCare is an unwieldy contraption that is sputtering badly. Yes, ObamaCare has covered more people and has especially benefited those with pre-existing conditions (to be credible, Republican replacement plans have to do these things, as well), but the program is so poorly designed that, surely, even a new Democratic president will want to revisit it to try to make it more workable.
Then there is another problem: It is easy to avoid or limit exposure to the penalty with some simple tax planning, as there are 30 different exemptions (which 12 million people claimed last year) and the IRS collects the penalty by reducing an employee’s tax refund.
The uninsured also know they can receive medical care at the emergency room. And if they fall ill, they can always purchase insurance during the next enrollment period, because ObamaCare eliminated existing conditions as a justification for denying coverage.
Our employees are smart enough to figure this out. Of our company’s 5,453 eligible employees, only 420 enrolled. Our experience isn’t unique, according to press reports. A March survey by the consulting firm Mercer found “virtually no change between 2014 and 2015” in the average percentage of employees signed up for employer-sponsored health plans. Mercer found a 1.6% increase in the absolute number of enrolled employees, but that happened thanks to a growing workforce, not the law.