ObamaCare: Still a Clear and Present Danger

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If only it were actually were true! According to a recent the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, nearly half of Americans believe that ObamaCare either has been repealed or aren't sure. Just over half correctly understand that this government takeover of health care continues unabated.

It's not surprising that people are confused. The House voted to repeal the law in January by a large margin, and headlines across the country read, "House votes to Repeal ObamaCare." People have read other headlines that say, "Court declares ObamaCare unconstitutional." And they have read news reports about numerous efforts in the House of Representatives to defund the law.

But the Democratic Senate has rejected the House's effort to repeal ObamaCare, and Federal judges have ruled ObamaCare both constitutional and unconstitutional, surely triggering a final U.S. Supreme Court decision.

ObamaCare is alive and well and is the law of the land. Not one word of this 2,801 page law has been changed or repealed. It poses a clear and present danger to America's freedom, prosperity, and health care.

In terms of freedom, ObamaCare may be one of Washington's biggest broadsides against personal liberty in history.

• First and foremost, ObamaCare's "individual mandate" requires Americans to purchase government-approved health insurance, with costs and coverage determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This requirement applies even to those who do not want to buy insurance. If Washington can force Americans to acquire health coverage, why can't it demand that we purchase broccoli, one Federal judge inquired? If the Supreme Court decides the individual mandate can stand, why can't Uncle Sam mandate that every American buy a brand-new General Motors car so the government can recoup some of our bailout money?

• In a free society, laws should be fathomable to any educated layperson. ObamaCare capsizes this principle. This new law spans 2,801 pages. Its dense and baffling text confounds medical, legal, and economic experts alike. Self-contradictory provisions will turn people into lawbreakers, even as they attempt to comply. ObamaCare's rules and regulations replace the doctor's bedside manner with bureaucratic dictates. The Secretary of Health and Human Service is even going to issue rules for dentists about how they must conduct "tooth-level surveillance."

As the economy struggles to get back on its feet, ObamaCare is a sucker punch to our prosperity.

• The health law was supposed to lower health costs. And yet, insurance premiums continue to rise - up 20 to 35 percent, in some cases - straining cash-strapped citizens while discouraging employers from increasing their workers' salaries, much less hiring them in the first place.

• According to Americans for Tax Reform, ObamaCare has heaped 20 new taxes worth $500 billion onto this country's wobbly shoulders. The administration plans to hire 1,056 new IRS agents and spend $359 million next year alone to help collect these new ObamaCare taxes.

ObamaCare's moral and economic problems are exacerbated by the fact that this new law harms human health - 180 degrees opposite from its stated purpose.

• "If you like your health-care plan," President Obama pledged in June 2009, "you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what."

Promise made. Promise broken. Just ask the 22,000 seniors whose Medicare Advantage policies Harvard Pilgrim Health Care ditched and the 800,000 who had Principle Financial Group's coverage until PFG totally exited the market. Americans already are losing their health plans, even if they like them. Medicare's chief actuary says more than seven million more seniors will lose their private Medicare Advantage coverage because of ObamaCare's cuts.

• The new taxes on drug companies and medical-device manufacturers hammer medical innovation, diverting money to Washington that could finance new and better cures and treatments.

• Thanks to these and other headaches, more than 1,000 companies, organizations, and unions so far have received waivers from HHS that exempt them from certain ObamaCare insurance regulations. While these often politically-connected winners enjoy their waivers, the rest of us are losers under this politically-driven new law.

The good news is that ObamaCare will not be in full force until 2014. Thus, for the next three years, the cure for this disease remains exactly what it was the day the president signed it into law: Repeal the law and replace it with a market-oriented, patient-centered alternative.

Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a non-profit research organization that focuses on free-market ideas for health reform.  Turner is also a co-author of Why ObamaCare Is Wrong for America (2011, HarperCollins).  She can be reached at gracemarie@galen.org

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