The Affordable Care Act — or as Barbara Walters recently called it, “The Formidable Health Act” — is truly the gift that just keeps on giving. Oh, sure, it’s poised to destroy the American health care system and the private insurance industry, but hey, look on the bright side — it’s been an embarrassment of riches for cartoonists, satirists, comedians, columnists, and humorists. All hail Tyrannosaurus Rx!
“At the time Nancy Pelosi famously remarked that the Affordable Care Act would have to be passed before we knew what was in it, I didn’t realize that by ‘we,’ she was including Barack Obama.
“I should have guessed, though. After all, this guy is as lazy as that kid who always tried to hide out in the eighth grade by sitting in the last seat in the back row, praying never to be called on. It’s only right that it’s referred to as his signature piece of legislation because the only role this goofus played in creating this monster was signing it.
“Although everything is still up in the air when it comes to ObamaCare in spite of the White House moving back one deadline after another and attempting to get insurance companies to break as many laws as Obama has, the fact remains that we could end up with 315 million people with health insurance, but with nary a hospital or doctor to treat them.
“In one county in Florida, there will be only seven pediatricians for 260,000 children. All I know is that I wouldn’t want to be sitting in one of those seven waiting rooms. You know how cranky a five-year-old can get, especially after sitting there since he was a three-year-old.
“At this point, I’m betting even Marcelas Owens, the 11-year-old black kid who was standing at Obama’s elbow when he signed the Affordable Care Act, wishes he’d yanked the pen out of Obama’s hand and stabbed Henry Waxman with it on his way out the door.” —Burt Prelutsky, Obamacare: Our Very Own Titanic
“[Last week] Health and Human Services unilaterally and without warning changed coverage deadlines and guidelines. It asked insurers to start covering people on January 1 even if they signed up as late as the day before and even if they hadn’t paid their premiums. And is ‘strongly encouraging’ them to pay during the transition for doctor visits and medicines not covered in their current plans (if covered in the patient’s previous – canceled – plan).
“On what authority does a Cabinet secretary tell private companies to pay for services not in their plans and cover people not on their rolls? Does anyone even ask? The bill itself is simply taken as a kind of blanket authorization for HHS to run, regulate and control the whole insurance system.
“Three years ago I predicted that Obamacare would turn insurers into the lapdog equivalent of utility companies. I undershot. They are being treated as wholly owned subsidiaries. Take the phrase ‘strongly encouraging.’ Sweet persuasion? In reality, these are offers insurers can’t refuse. Disappoint your federal master and he has the power to kick you off the federal exchanges, where the health insurance business of the future is supposed to be conducted.
“Moreover, if adverse selection drives insurers into a financial death spiral – too few healthy young people to offset more costly, sicker, older folks – their only recourse will be a government bailout. Do they really want to get on the wrong side of the White House, their only lifeline when facing insolvency?” —Charles Krauthammer, Story of the Year
“Things do not go nearly as smoothly with the rollout of Obamacare, which turns out to have a lot of problems despite being conceived of by super-smart people with extensive experience in the field of being former student-council presidents. The federal website, Healthcare.gov, is riddled with glitches, resulting in people being unable to log in, people getting cut off, people being electrocuted by their keyboards, people having their sensitive financial information suddenly appear on millions of TV screens during episodes of ‘Duck Dynasty,’ etc.
“Fortunately, as the initial rush of applicants tapers off, the system starts to work a little better, and by the end of the second week U.S. Secretary of Blame Kathleen Sebelius is able to announce that the program has amassed a total enrollment, nationwide, of nearly two people, one of whom later turns out to be imaginary. But this is not good enough for a visibly angry and frustrated and, of course, surprised President Obama, who promises to get the website fixed just as soon as somebody answers the Technical Support hotline, which has had the White House on hold for 73 hours. —Dave Barry, 2013 in Review
“The Obama administration isn’t doing very well with putting an empathetic face on its calamitous health-insurance law, is it? First, we had Julia, the creepy, eyeless, vision-of-horror from Brave New World whose life was run from cradle to grave by the federal government. Then, we had Adriana, the painfully neutral and carefully ambi-racial stock-model-from-everywhere whose face became so synonymous with HealthCare.gov’s hilarious launch that she had to be replaced with a graphic plugging an 800 number. And now, courtesy of Organizing for Action, we have Pajama Boy, a metrosexual hipster in a plaid onesie who wants you to spend your precious Christmas days talking to him about the president’s vision for health insurance.
“Unlike your average Jehovah’s Witness, Pajama Boy has evidently managed not only to get into the warmth of your house to do his proselytizing, but to make himself a cup of hot chocolate and to get into his bedtime clothes to boot. That is to say, Pajama Boy is staying over — priggish facial expression and all — and he won’t leave until you’ve relented. The Founding Fathers certainly couldn’t have envisioned Obamacare, but one suspects that if they had possessed even the slightest inkling that the growth of government would lead to this, they might have expanded the underused Third Amendment to include Advocates of Change™, too. These, suffice it to say, are people you do not want quartered anywhere near you. …
“To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to screw up one Obamacare personification may be regarded as a misfortune; to screw up them all looks like carelessness. Or, perhaps better: ignorance. The harsh truth is that the advertising machine behind the Obama administration seems not to really know what normal human beings are like.” —Charles C. W. Cooke, Pajama Boy: The Obama Machine’s Id
“Among these unanswered questions, the most disturbing pertain to the demand that millions of so-called Millennials must purchase health insurance — estimated at about $1,700 a year — that they will hardly use. Their premiums supposedly will subsidize older, in-need Americans who cannot pay the full costs of coverage that they will draw on frequently.
“We forget that young people are already targeted for a number of government redistribution plans. Of America’s age cohorts, the under-30 bunch is the least likely to be employed, and the most likely to work at low-wage or part-time jobs. Millennials alre dy pay high payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare coverage for the elderly. Yet most economists predict that both programs will soon prove insolvent and will not be able to extend the present level of benefits to young contributors when they retire.
“We are currently in the greatest economic slowdown since the Great Depression. The now normal 7 percent unemployment hits the young especially hard. Their jobless rate typically ranges from two to three times higher than the national average. Requiring employers to provide Obamacare coverage will spike unemployment and, again, do the most harm to those who are just entering the workforce. …
“Obamacare will not, as the president promised, ‘lower the cost of your premiums by up to $2,500 a year.’ Most estimates suggest that the Affordable Care Act will add trillions to the already huge national debt. The current $17 trillion aggregate debt is largely a result of out-of-control entitlement obligations that skyrocketed over the last 20 years and largely were paid out to those over the age of 30. When interest rates creep up, the cost of servicing the national debt may claim one-third of the yearly federal budget. The millennial generation will come of age in time to pay higher taxes and receive fewer government services to cover for prior generations who wanted more things on credit billed to their grandchildren.” —Victor Davis Hanson, The Obamacare Generation
“In the real world, most cancellations up to this point have been of ‘bad apple’ policies that fell short of Barrycare’s lofty moral standards for acceptable coverage, including maternity benefits for menopausal women. But on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and similar precincts, the problem is the opposite. Their policies are plenty generous, but they have to die so as not to ‘siphon off’ the healthy folks whose participation in the exchanges is vital to keeping the absurd scheme solvent. But hey, there’s good news — some of those artists and writers and doctors and lawyers may qualify for government subsidies! …
“The reality of it is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that one can only postpone the Consequences of No Consequences for so long before ugly reality finally arrives. This puts the Left in the terrible position of being forced to choose between its principles and its pocketbook, a life situation for which they are almost wholly unprepared. On some level, they are all Pajama Boy.” —Michael Walsh, The Death of Little Nell
“Instead of ruining so many people’s lives with poorly written mandates and blowing billions of dollars on bug-riddled federal and state exchange websites, Obama could have been honest in 2009 and simply proposed a huge Medicaid expansion, plus the tax increases needed to fund it. But that level of honesty is anathema to socialists. Their schemes always have to be dressed up as technocratic masterworks, brilliant plans that will not only fix the problems they love to exaggerate – in this case, the number of Americans who were involuntarily uninsured – but restructure and improve everyone’s life, at no cost to the Sainted Middle Class.
“Obama’s Big Lies were designed to fool voters into thinking ObamaCare would be essentially voluntary – you’d be able to keep everything the way it was if you wanted to. You probably wouldn’t want to, because ObamaCare would be so super-awesome that its plans would go flying off the virtual shelves, but if you weren’t sold on entering the system, you could keep your old plan and your preferred health care providers.
“In reality, none of that is true, and you won’t be able to escape the ObamaCare tax avalanche, either. This is just the beginning, too. Wait until insurance companies caught in the death spiral of expensive, older, sicker customers buying Affordable Care Act policies, while the young and healthy take a pass on their planned shakedown, causes the industry to come looking for a bailout… which will probably be financed with deficit dollars… which will turn into irresistible demands for tax increases in a couple of years. Wait until the federal government pulls the Medicaid rug out from beneath your state, obliging the state government to soak you for more tax revenue. Wait until an army of desperate low-income ObamaCare policy holders begins crying out for relief from their huge deductibles, shaken at last from the delusion that Obama was going to give them ‘free medicine.’” —John Hayward, Here Comes the Obamacare Tax Avalanche
“Regarding Obamacare, the administration has issued 1,231 waivers to unions, businesses, trade associations and others. In a display of government by decree, the administration has delayed or altered the law no fewer than 14 times (as of this writing).
“After a string of denials, HHS announced that employers would not be required to offer health insurance until 2015 instead of 2014 as the law provides. Next, Obama decreed that small businesses would not have to enroll in online exchanges next year. HHS high-handedly ruled that next year’s enrollment deadline for individuals would be Nov. 15, not Oct. 15 (I can’t imagine why). After the outcry over canceled policies, the president unilaterally allowed that insurers could go ahead and offer last year’s policies. Accelerating retractions and corrections come daily now — most without legal foundation. Individuals can take an extra week to sign up for plans; those who’ve had their policies canceled can sign up for ‘catastrophic’ policies. It all depends upon Obama’s whim.
“This last bit of executive caprice creates the illogical and utterly unjust outcome that people who could not afford insurance at all in 2013 are still subject to the mandate, whereas those who did have insurance but saw their plans canceled are not. The law contains a ‘hardship exemption’ from the individual mandate, which had included the homeless, members of Indian tribes, those who’d filed for bankruptcy within the previous six months and so forth. Now, according to the White House, having your insurance plan canceled because of Obamacare is itself a hardship. They’re getting warmer.
“The president and his secretary of HHS seem to be playing a federal version of Whac-A-Mole. No sooner do they bat at one problem with the law than another pops up.” —Mona Charen, Obamacare Whac-A-Mole
“What’s failing across America right now isn’t President Obama’s promises about Obamacare. It’s Obamacare itself.
“For example, as you read this you have no idea if people who signed up for Obamacare through either the Massachusetts Health Connector or the federal HealthCare.gov website will have coverage in place next week. You may have missed the deadline and not realized it because the deadline has been changed so many times.
“In fact, there may not be a deadline. In Rhode Island, the deadline for buying coverage to take effect Jan. 1 went from Dec. 15 to Dec. 31 — to, USA Today reports, Jan. 10. That’s right — you can buy your coverage 10 days after it started!
“But what if you don’t buy until Jan. 11? Or Jan. 21? Or the second full moon after the vernal equinox? Will you have to pay the ‘individual mandate’ tax penalty then? A White House spokesman last week refused to say if anyone, ever, would have to pay.
“This isn’t a computer glitch or calendar problem. This is a federal government in full meltdown mode on the biggest project of the past five years. It would be like finding out on the day of the first moon mission that the windows on the capsule won’t shut and nobody remembered to fill up the fuel tank.” —Michael Graham, If You Like Your Big Government…
“With the December 23rd deadline ominously looming for Americans to sign up for insurance policies at HealthCare.gov, President Obama last night granted executive pardons to “potential ObamaCare criminals” whose insurance carriers cancelled their policies, but who have thus far failed to enroll in new plans.
“The White House said newly-pardoned ‘imminent offenders’ will be allowed to purchase sub-standard plans, or to continue without health insurance through 2014, and to perform 40 hours of community service to atone for their ‘crimes of omission.’
“Although the federal government will officially view the pardon recipients as full citizens, ‘with all rights customarily conferred upon them by the executive branch,’ nevertheless, the stigma might be tough to shake.
“‘Let’s face it,’ said White House press secretary Jay Carney. ‘These people were about to violate a federal law, so their neighbors might be justifiably wary of them.’
“The president emphasizes that there’s little likely threat to public safety, but encourages all law-abiding citizens to ‘take the ordinary precautions of locking doors, and of keeping an eye on your children until all your neighbors have fully obeyed the Affordable Care Act.’” —Scott Ott, Obama Pardons Potential ObamaCare Violators
“A proper reform of the health-insurance sector would eliminate (or at least greatly reduce) the footprint of third-party payers in most routine care, as well as transform health insurance into what it should be — a protection against catastrophe, not a club for medical care. That would introduce price transparency to the consumer, relieve most providers of a ridiculous amount of overhead, and reduce premiums to a realistic level for catastrophic coverage.
“This, however, is the worst of both worlds. The law forces people to pay higher premiums for largely unnecessary comprehensive coverage — especially the middle class — and then forces them to pay for the routine care out of pocket anyway. Health-savings accounts that might have shielded consumers from the pain are now being discouraged, which means this comes out of their checking accounts, right along with the higher premiums.
“The result? People will pay more for less coverage, and then spend thousands of dollars before seeing the first dollar in benefits, except for certain preventive tests that HHS deemed mandatory. This will discourage people from getting normal wellness care and quick intervention on illnesses, forcing them to wait until they’re very sick to see a doctor. And even that might be not so bad, considering how often people fill waiting rooms for cold and flu symptoms that could easily be handled with over-the-counter treatment, but it’s not what the Obama administration and Democrats promised. And it’s certainly not ‘affordable care.’”—Ed Morrissey, Surprise! Bronze Plans May Cost a Lot More Than You Expect
“Health insurance should be individual, portable across jobs, states and providers; lifelong and guaranteed-renewable, meaning you have the right to continue with no unexpected increase in premiums if you get sick. Insurance should protect wealth against large, unforeseen, necessary expenses, rather than be a wildly inefficient payment plan for routine expenses.
“People want to buy this insurance, and companies want to sell it. It would be far cheaper, and would solve the pre-existing conditions problem. We do not have such health insurance only because it was regulated out of existence. Businesses cannot establish or contribute to portable individual policies, or employees would have to pay taxes. So businesses only offer group plans. Knowing they will abandon individual insurance when they get a job, and without cross-state portability, there is little reason for young people to invest in lifelong, portable health insurance. Mandated coverage, pressure against full risk rating, and a dysfunctional cash market did the rest.
“Rather than a mandate for employer-based groups, we should transition to fully individual-based health insurance. Allow national individual insurance offered and sold to anyone, anywhere, without the tangled mess of state mandates and regulations. Allow employers to contribute to individual insurance at least on an even basis with group plans. Current group plans can convert to individual plans, at once or as people leave. Since all members in a group convert, there is no adverse selection of sicker people.” —John H. Cochrane, What to Do When ObamaCare Unravels
For further enlightenment:
Eight Ways to Opt out of Obamacare, by Susan Berry
Not Every Health Condition Is Insurable, by David Howden
New Obamacare Fees Coming in 2014, by S. A. Miller and Geoff Earle
Medical Experts Tell Congress about the Obamacare Damage to Come, by Rodrigo Sermeño
Bunny Ranch Sex Workers Praise Obamacare, by Warner Todd Huston
Oklahoma Doctors vs. Obamacare (video)