Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
Recent actions by the Obama Administration are a sure sign that President Obama's new federal health care law, commonly referred to Obamacare, is in deep trouble. The continued problems with implementation of the federal health care law are indicative that the overall approach of Obamacare is impracticable and unworkable.
Earlier this month, the Obama Administration announced that it was delaying the implementation of the employer mandate. The employer mandate, which is different from the individual mandate that brought about a Supreme Court case last year, will now be delayed from January of 2014 until January of 2015. The Obama Administration's claim that the delay is primarily a response to concerns about the law's effect on business is a false argument because Obamacare hurts businesses, especially small businesses. Additionally, it is apparent that many administrative and technical issues remain unresolved.
The delay of the employer mandate is because the Obama Administration isn't ready to implement the law's complex insurance reporting and verification system requirements on employers, as is required by law. These issues were well known even before the President signed Obamacare into law more than three years ago.
The employer mandate is not the only delay in this flawed policy. Earlier this year, the Obama Administration formally delayed the small business health insurance exchange originally set to begin open enrollment in October. The exchange, formally known as the "Small Business Health Option Program," is now delayed until at least 2015.
Meanwhile, as the Nebraska Department of Insurance and the Nebraska Medicaid Division try to prepare for the implementation of Obamacare as required by federal law, the Obama Administration frequently can't answer questions integral to required implantation from our state agencies and other states. It is clear that the federal Department of Health and Human Services isn't prepared to fully implement this law by January 1.
The inevitable slow-motion disaster of attempting to implement a law that the President's own administration lacks the expertise to do so is clear to others in both parties, too. Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana, who holds the high-profile position of Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, recently told the Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services that he is "very concerned" as the nation approaches Obamacare's implementation and that the implementation of Obamacare is likely to be a "train wreck." Last week, the heads of three major labor unions, including the Teamsters, who had previously supported Obamacare, said the law will "destroy the very health and well-being" and "hurt millions of Americans."
Here in Nebraska, Obamacare will have a toll on taxpayers, through increased premiums for hard-working, middle income Nebraska families. Additionally, the current Medicaid provisions alone will cost the taxpayers millions in coming years.
In Nebraska, the 18th annual University of Nebraska - Lincoln poll of rural Nebraskans found that 54 percent of the respondents believe that the country will be worse off under the new law while only 9 percent thought we would be better off. The poll also found that 58 percent of rural Nebraskans think that the law will not reduce health care costs while 13 percent thought it would.
President Obama and others that supported this law said it would reduce insurance premiums, but the American Society of Actuaries estimates insurance premiums will increase by approximately 30 percent over the next few years. It is being predicted healthy young people will experience insurance premium increases well above 30 percent.
It is time for President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius to admit the new federal health care law isn't ready for prime time. The best option for now would be to delay the implementation of the entire federal law for another year. Or better yet, simply admit Obamacare was a mistake and repeal it.
- Dave Heineman
Governor of Nebraska