Data released last week by two federal agencies — the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) — stripped the Obama health law of its constitutional and economic justifications, like an emperor with no clothes.
The new facts should seal a victory for the parties challenging the Obama health law in the coming U.S. Supreme Court showdown and ignite voter rage next November against the president who lied to get the law passed.
The AHRQ report on who consumes healthcare shatters the Obama administration’s constitutional justification for compelling all Americans to buy insurance. The president’s legal team claims that all Americans consume healthcare, therefore all Americans are engaged in healthcare commerce, and consequently Congress can use its Commerce Clause power to compel them to pay for their care via insurance.
Not so fast. The AHRQ report shows that half of Americans consume almost no healthcare. Fifty percent of the population needs so little healthcare that they accounted for only 2.9 percent of healthcare spending in 2009. Looking only at Americans under age 65, the percentage of nonconsumers is even higher.
Most Americans don’t need much healthcare until they reach retirement age. People who are nonconsumers one year are likely to be nonconsumers the next. They are healthy. Previous AHRQ reports confirm that this is the case year after year.
Why should a majority of the under-65 population be subject to a health insurance requirement when they consume little or no healthcare? That is the reasoning behind the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision last August to strike down the Obama health law’s mandatory insurance provision.
Judges Frank Hull and Joel Dubina called the Obama administration’s claim that everyone needs healthcare “a convenient sleight of hand,” meaning a lie. This week’s AHRQ report gives the Supreme Court Justices solid evidence to uphold the 11th Circuit ruling.
Judges Hull and Dubina said that the Obama health law forces healthy people to buy expensive health plans so that insurance companies can afford to provide unlimited coverage to people with chronic illnesses and pre-existing conditions.
The mandate turns insurers into private tax collectors, collecting mandatory premiums from the healthy to pay for politically popular benefits for the sick.
The startling AHRQ data confirm that “we the people” were bamboozled, but it’s not too late to act on this new information. New data from CMS uncover another big lie behind the campaign for Obamacare.
To frighten the nation into passing the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the president falsely claimed that healthcare spending was “spiraling” and “skyrocketing.” He labeled it the domestic crisis of our time.
Contrary to the president’s alarming words, healthcare spending was growing more slowly in 2009 and 2010 than at any other time in the last half century. A new report by CMS actuaries shows that spending inched up only 3.8 percent in 2009 and 3.9 percent the next year.
The recession slowed spending somewhat, but another reason is that more employers and consumers switched to insurance plans with high co-pays and deductibles that encourage patients to think twice before going to the doctor or seeking elective surgery.
This positive trend will likely end soon. Federal actuaries forecast health spending jumping a whopping 8.3 percent in 2014, the year most of the law takes effect, with annual increases thereafter averaging 6.2 percent until 2020. One reason is that people with private health plans will be compelled to prepay for more of their care with insurance, rather than opting for high deductibles and copays.
The new law limits cost sharing, just the opposite of what’s needed to deter health consumption. Spending also will leap ahead because of the vast expansion of Medicaid.
The Obama health law makes more people eligible and enriches benefits so that Medicaid spending will top $900 billion in 2020 (state and federal), up from $343 billion in the last year of the George W. Bush administration.
Before Congress enacted the Obama health law, healthcare spending increases were at historic lows. If only Congress had demanded the facts, instead of falling for the president’s alarmist rhetoric.
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