Obamacare is in serious condition. Its symptoms worsen as its vital signs sink like U.S. job-growth figures. Even Democratic candidates are fleeing in fear that its malady is contagious.
The Health and Human Services Department has permitted McDonald's, Aetna, New York's United Federation of Teachers and 27 other well-connected organizations to escape new regulations on minimum-coverage levels and administrative-expense ratios for "mini-med" plans common among low-income employees. HHS granted these waivers because, as "Sub-Regulatory Guidance (OCIIO 2010 - 1)" explains, Obamacare could cause "a significant decrease in access to benefits or a significant increase in premiums."
"There's nothing in the bill that says you have to change the health insurance that you've got right now," President Obama told Iowa voters Sept. 29. He is hopelessly uninformed, frightfully deluded, or totally lying through his perfect teeth. Obama should know that Obamacare already is prying Americans from their health plans.
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC) announced Sept. 28 that, on Dec. 31, it would jettison some 22,000 Medicare Advantage customers in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. "We became concerned by the long-term viability of Medicare Advantage programs in general," customer-service vice-president Lynn Bowman told the Boston Globe. HPHC also worried about Obamacare's requirement that it contract with doctors, rather than let customers choose their own physicians.
"Health care reform has made it more difficult for employers like 3M to provide a plan that will remain competitive," the Scotch Tape dispenser wrote its employees Oct. 1. Come 2103, those who retire too young for Medicare will be barred from 3M's plan. Instead, they will be asked to buy insurance via a "health reimbursement arrangement."
Meanwhile, Obamacare is hiking, not cutting, costs.
Barbara A. Brody Associates reports that next year, Obamacare's restrictions will push health premiums up 30 percent in New York for singles, couples, and families with children.
Things are no sunnier down South. Gov. Haley Barbour, R-Miss., asked Milliman consultants to analyze Obamacare's impact on his state.
"Their findings are staggering," Barbour wrote state legislators Oct. 8. "(Obamacare) will result in a massive expansion of Medicaid, which is projected to cost Mississippi taxpayers up to an additional $1.7 billion over the next decade." Barbour expects Medicaid rolls to expand by more than 400,000 and engulf a third of Mississippi's population. Forty-nine other governors are wondering how to shoehorn Obamacare's Medicaid mandates into their tight or busted budgets.
As Obamacare lies ill, Democrats run in horror.
- "Nevada needs to be vigilant on this issue," said Silver State Democrat gubernatorial nominee Rory Reid, son of Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who dragooned senators into passing Obamacare. Reid the younger added that Obamacare could "put significant pressure on states because Medicaid rates could go up significantly."
- West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, is running for the U.S. Senate and away from Obamacare. "It's overreaching," he said. "It needs to have a lot of it repealed. If you can't fix that, repeal the whole thing."
- "I didn't vote for it, people don't want it, and the taxpayers cannot afford it," said Rep. Gene Taylor. The Mississippi congressman is the first Democrat to sign Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King's discharge petition, promoted by Heritage Action for America. The petition has 173 signatures; 218 would let House members vote on Obamacare's repeal.
Most Americans would applaud this. Among 1,000 likely voters surveyed by Rasmussen Reports last week, 55 percent want Obamacare unplugged; 39 percent disagree. Repeal advocates include 79 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of independents, and even 34 percent of Democrats (error margin: +/- 3 percent). Yup: More than a third of Obama's fellow Democrats would euthanize his biggest achievement.
Amid such sentiments, Republican candidates should be far bolder than heretofore seen. They should pledge that if they secure Congress, their first vote would aim to do what the American people want: Stuff a pillow over Obamacare and take it out of our misery.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at Deroy.Murdock@gmail.com.