By Doug Magill
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has announced that the November ballot will have a measure proposing a constitutional amendment concerning the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) – aka Obamacare.
The ballot initiative would prevent the implementation of the law and would restrict the ability of lawmakers to craft an Ohio version. I won’t wade into the morass of one of the most pernicious pieces of legislation ever passed in the dead of night (if I recall it was Christmas Eve). Still, it is noteworthy that Obamacare has generated enough political passion to produce a plethora of state ballot initiatives and lawsuits. As of now more than 30 states have pending legislation, court cases, or referendums designed to overturn or prevent the implementation of Obamacare.
This public-policy bazaar is unprecedented, and clearly indicates the divisiveness and folly of trying to ram into law such a complex and poorly thought-out piece of legislation.
A lot of national attention will be directed toward Ohio. We are considered a battleground state, along with about seven others. Pollsters, pundits, and forecasters will spend a lot of time trying to determine the future of politics, and perhaps individual freedom.
Expect to see a significant amount of money poured into the Buckeye state and a resultant avalanche of advertising and media scrutiny in the next few months.
As in other states, a furious counterattack is underway in Ohio, as many liberal-interest groups are challenging the validity of a number of the petition signatures which caused the ballot issue to be approved. (Why is it that liberal organizations tend to fear ballot measures and always want to invalidate them rather than debate them?)
As the issues are complex, so will be the arguments, charges, counterclaims and distortions. But this much can be said: we are already feeling the deleterious effects of this legislative fiasco.
A recent study by The Heritage Foundation clearly shows that even during the depths of the recession private-sector hiring occurred. Immediately after President Obama signed PPACA into law, private-sector hiring dropped by 90 percent. The statistical correlation is irrefutable.
General uncertainties around the economic policies of a confused president. Obamacare leads that list. Businesses with fewer than 50 workers are afraid to hire to avoid the mandated government plans if they exceed that number. Larger enterprises face increased costs due to the new insurance program. No one knows yet what qualifying health coverage will look like anyway. All disincentives to hiring.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid released a 10-year forecast which clarifies that spending on health care will increase at a faster rate than if PPACA had not been passed. And that is without the effects of the “doc-fix”. In 1997 Congress established a formula for Medicare reimbursements that everyone knew was unrealistic and would cause doctors to drop out of Medicare. So, rather than fixing the formula to accurately represent the true costs of Medicare – and having to budget appropriately – Congress continues to make temporary adjustments. Obamacare exacerbates this in a big way by assuming that Medicare costs will be reduced by $300 billion when it takes effect in 2014.
No one believes this. No one. And so the basis of PPACA is fraudulent, and yet people keep spouting phony numbers about the cost of the act. No wonder businesses are unwilling to hire.
Contrary to presidential proclamations, small businesses are already losing insurance coverage because of the forecasted costs of Obamacare. Carriers simply cannot expand coverage to new people (to be paid for by whom?), force acceptance of people with prior conditions, and extend the coverage of children to age 26 (many of whom act much younger than that), and not have an increase in costs. Many insurance companies, now terrified of not being able to recover their costs are either dropping coverage or raising rates significantly. The National Federation of Independent Businesses shows that one in eight small companies have had to stop offering insurance coverage to their employees. And the act hasn’t been fully implemented yet.
General Electric has announced it is moving the headquarters for its X-Ray unit to China. Boston Scientific recently stated that it will reduce employment in the United States to free up money for investment – in China. Expect more to come.
This is not a surprise. Hundreds of companies recently lobbied Congress to fix PPACA to eliminate the extra taxes on medical devices as it would cause them to either lose money or have to reduce employment to stay in business. In addition, taxes on companies end up in increased prices to customers. Let’s get this straight: the government increases taxes on companies, which have to increase prices. The cost of medical care goes up – even though the original intent was to restrain costs when we entered the M.C. Escher world of Obamacare.
The prognosis: It will get worse.
A number of recent reports indicate that Britain’s National Health Service is entering the desperation phase of socialized medicine. Hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery, and tonsil removals are now being rationed to save money. This will get worse also. It is where we are headed once the decision about appropriate medical care is ripped from the hands and hearts of patients and placed in the unaccountable dominion of Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board.
As a cancer survivor I can recall how terrifying it is to know that your body is invaded by an implacable enemy. And how difficult it is to make a choice that combines the opportunity for the best treatment with the possibility of maintaining a normal life afterward.
At least that choice was mine, and I can live with the consequences.
Bureaucrats don’t care about your life afterward, only what is cheapest. Imagine being faced with a life or death choice, knowing that your life will be pure hell. And knowing that you are helpless – with no choices, no options, and no ability to be even heard.
As the fires of debate rage on in battleground Ohio, remember that. When the arguments are done and the votes are cast, what we don’t want to see flickering out is hope.
Doug Magill is a prostate cancer survivor, consultant, freelance writer and voice over talent. He can be reached at email@example.com