When is a fact, not a fact? When the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) threatens you and tells you it isn't. That is exactly what is happening in Washington, D.C., as former allies turn into adversaries. The war of words between HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the industry lobby for health insurers, has taken an interesting turn.
Big insurance companies and the Obama Administration were fighting in tandem just 6 months ago to implement the largest expansion of government-subsidized health care since the establishment of Medicare; a trillion dollar boondoggle of epic proportions very ironically called the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Now they are clearly on opposite sides of the spectrum. Congressional Democrats, the Obama Administration, AHIP, and many other organizations worked tirelessly to convince the American people that the ACA would help the sick, the poor, the middle class, the elderly, and everyone in between. This would lower insurance premiums, provide broader levels of care, increase healthy living, and save the government billions in the long-term.
But what exactly has ObamaCare accomplished in these past six months? The answer is: not much. Just ask the millions of Americans who will see their health insurance premiums increase in the coming months, who are still without insurance coverage but facing higher taxes, whose children will no longer have the health coverage that they have today, who will pay more for their prescription drugs under Medicare Part D, or who will face millions of dollars in fines thanks to onerous IRS rules.
On September 9, Secretary Sebelius took AHIP to task for what she called "misinformation and misleading marketing" by some of AHIP's member companies that had informed their customers about upcoming premium increases due to burdensome new regulations passed in ObamaCare. As everyone knows, the more services you provide, the higher the costs. Everyone, that is, except Secretary Sebelius, who took issue with the facts.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office told us last year that premiums for people in non-group policies would rise by as much as 13% by 2016. It's ludicrous that Secretary Sebelius should act shocked and appalled that the CBO's warning is starting to manifest. She even went so far as to threaten American businesses, saying that the Obama Administration would have "zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases...and would keep track of [these] insurers...[whose] plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014." Certainly something has gone terribly wrong when a member of the President's Cabinet is using school-yard threats against taxpaying American companies instead of reasoned arguments.
ObamaCare has been plagued so far by a slew of missteps and problems; some of which were expected but largely ignored by the Obama Administration and others that were truly unintended consequences as a result of imprudent and rushed policy making. So far, the Administration has missed 5 implementation deadlines, been sued by 22 states, issued over 4,100 pages of rules and regulations, and wrote 9 final regulations that will increase premium costs for individuals and employers. And this is just the beginning of the administrative burden that ObamaCare is placing on taxpayers.
The President's health care law is more than just health care. It is predicated upon the desire for power. For American small businesses, the Federal government's power comes in the form of the IRS. In order to raise $17 billion on the backs of American small businesses, ObamaCare mandates that every small business file a separate 1099 tax form for each company that does over $600 worth of business with per year. This requirement will cost small businesses millions of dollars in compliance costs and countless hours of work; all at a time when unemployment hovers just below 10% and we need our small businesses to revive the economy.
But repealing this example of sheer economic insanity is falling on deaf ears within the Obama Administration. Fortunately, House Republicans have already joined together to push for a repeal through H.R. 5141. Now, if only Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) would bring the bill to the House floor.
And there's more. This past week, major newspapers around the country reported on the most recent failure of government-mandated health care. In direct response to the ObamaCare mandate that all children should be covered by a health insurance plan regardless of existing health conditions, a number of health insurance companies have indicated that they will stop offering child-only plans. These companies will now only cover children as part of a family insurance plan, which is always more expensive than a child-only plan. Again, ObamaCare is driving up costs for the American taxpayer.
As anyone with even a basic knowledge of economics and human behavior can attest, the government's mandate removes any incentive to plan ahead for a child's health care needs. Instead, the Federal government has made it easy for parents to game the health care system and wait until a child is critically ill to sign them up for health insurance. This increases costs for everyone and absolves the need for personal responsibility. I can only imagine that this is a harbinger for what may happen in 2014 when the government forces these companies to completely abandon providing true insurance and turns them into government-controlled health care providers instead.
A Rasmussen poll from September 20 showed that 61% of likely voters now somewhat favor a repeal of ObamaCare, including 50% who strongly favor a repeal. Since late March, support for repealing the law has ranged from a low of 53% to a high of 63%. When over half of likely voters have consistently opposed the Obama Administration's signature law, there is significant cause for concern. Continuing to tinker at the edges of a fundamentally flawed law, as the Obama Administration seems keen to do, will not make the law better. It will only serve the needs of those special interests that have the ear of the Obama Administration, instead of the needs of the American people.
Elections have consequences, and this November is no different. With early voting having already begun in Georgia, I urge every eligible voter to get to the polls and vote for the person who will stand up for the American people, for American small business owners, and for every taxpayer against the continued assault on our pocketbooks and our liberties from the Obama Administration.