Rushing Into Obamacare Not Prudent

Friday, 07 Aug 2009 07:50 AM

By Ralph Hostetter

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Obamacare, much like Hillarycare of the mid-1990s, dominates the news today. The rhetoric, after nearly 15 years, remains the same.

Prudence should dictate, at this point, that both sides of the debate step back and review the present situation.

According to Economist Arthur B. Laffer, writing in the July 26 issue of The Wall Street Journal, “A recent CNN poll reveals that 70 percent of Americans are satisfied with their current health care arrangements, and for good reason. They work.”

However, 55 percent of the respondents think the U.S. healthcare system needs a “great deal of reform.”

According to Bloomberg.com’s Kristen Jensen, President Barack Obama’s effort to revamp the healthcare system is drawing increasing disapproval from all citizens worried about higher deficits.

The results of a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University (July 27-Aug. 3) show 52 percent of American voters disapprove of the way Obama is handling healthcare while 39 percent approve. This compares to 46 percent disapproval and 42 percent approval in June. Nearly 75 percent don’t believe Obama’s claim that he can add healthcare without adding to the budget deficit.

An impressive 57 percent say the healthcare bill should be dropped if it adds significantly to the deficit.

A major consideration are small businesses, those employing 100 or less workers, that represent 50 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Fewer than half of small businesses, those with three to nine employees, offer any health insurance.

Ninety-nine percent of large companies, 200 workers or more, do offer health insurance.

Small businesses are burdened with higher costs of healthcare, in some instances 18 percent more than for large businesses, giving credence to Obama’s comments regarding small businesses being “crushed by skyrocketing healthcare costs.”

One of the most frightening provisions insofar as small business is concerned is the penalty on small businesses with payrolls of more than $400,000 per year. Those who fail to provide health insurance will suffer an 8 percent penalty. Businesses with payrolls of $250,000 to $400,000 will pay a lesser penalty. Businesses with less than a $250,000 payroll would be exempt.

No action has been taken by either the House or the Senate prior to the August recess.

A national healthcare plan is not a new idea for those who remember the Clinton Administration years of the mid-1990s, particularly the year 1994 when President Bill Clinton had designated his wife Hillary to head the development of a national healthcare program.

A law was enacted and became known, at the time, as Hillary’s Health Plan Law.

The provisions of the law, without going into great detail, were about the same as they are today, with the exception of the provision dealing with citizens 65 or older. The medical plan at that time provided for appointing a medical board to review all applications for healthcare for those 65 or older.

According to procedures outlined for the board to follow, any medical treatment for an individual 65 or older that was determined not to significantly prolong the life of a patient, treatment could be withheld. This one provision is credited for the most part for the defeat of what had become “Hillarycare.”

Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein draws a comparison between the strategy of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as follows:

“Where Clinton and his team crafted their health-care reform plan in the executive branch, Obama has left the details almost entirely to Congress. Where Clinton pursued an ambitious reconstruction of the entire sector, Obama has sought to preserve existing insurance arrangements and win the support of industry players. Where Clinton spent a year developing his bill before even getting to Congress, Obama lashed his efforts to a tight timetable. Clinton’s big push for reform came in a 1993 speech before Congress in which he offered painstaking details; Obama made his argument at a recent news conference, addressing concerns more than specifying proposals.”

Obamacare will soon be put to the test when Congress comes back into session after the August recess.

Speculation has been that chances for passage of the Obama healthcare legislation have been less since it failed acceptance before the August recess.

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