Obama’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009: What You Don’t Know May Kill You
By Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.
Yesterday, the people of Denver demonstrated that they have far more sense than their Congresswoman does when 700 of them rallied on the State Capitol steps to voice their opposition to President Obama’s health care bill.
The President has been working hard in recent weeks to persuade us that such opposition is unfounded. In his recent prime time press conference, he soothingly told us that this legislation would help reduce the costs of health care. He went on to assure us that we would all be able to keep our current health care plans and would not be forced onto government programs. In conclusion, he promised that health policy would be free from congressional meddling, as it would be overseen by a nonpartisan committee of medical experts whose recommendations would have to be accepted or rejected in their entirety by Congress. He said all of this with a straight face. None of it is true.
As a former Constitutional Law instructor, Mr. Obama knows that Congress’s legislative authority cannot be limited in such a way. Had Mr. Obama actually read the text of the bill, he also would have known that it allows people to keep their own health care plans only so long as they stay with their current plans. If they try to change their plans, they are indeed forced onto the government’s program. He certainly knew, though, that the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, estimated that the bill actually increases costs of health care and enlarges the federal deficit by billions of dollars.
Denver Representative Diana DeGette, apparently a very credulous person and far too busy to read the 1000+ pages of the bill for herself, has taken the President at his word and maintains that there is a need to pass the bill immediately. Unfortunately, the arguments she uses to support the urgent need for legislation are rooted almost entirely in myths about our health care system; myths Dr. Clifford S. Asness easily and entertainingly debunks in his essay, “Health Care Mythology.” Fortunately, the American people are not so easily duped.
Money Morning and Stephen Hyde both point out some of the most egregious financial problems with this bill. As Hyde asserts, “The bill requires virtually all employers to offer minimum health benefit plans that far exceed anything most of them offer today.” This will necessarily increase insurance costs. As Money Morning shows, it also has a more devastating aspect. Under the legislation, any business that cannot afford to provide the extensive coverage the bill requires will be taxed up to 8% of its payroll. This will almost immediately result in severe wage reductions and layoffs as businesses attempt to defray that cost. This hardly seems like the best idea as the nation struggles for economic recovery. Yet, this is not the worst the bill has to offer.
Peter Fleckstein (aka Fleckman), has diligently combed through the legislation and assembled a brief, line-by-line cheat sheet. His full analysis, “The HC Monstrosity-All 1,018 Pages,” can be found at his blog. While somewhat cursory, Mr. Fleckstein successfully highlights some alarming details in the legislation. To list just a few, the bill provides for:
- Nationwide government access to our private healthcare and financial records, as well as our bank accounts.
- Exemption from judicial review of the prices government sets on health care.
- Government wage controls over physicians, as well as limitations on physician ownership of hospitals and other health care providers.
- Mandates for end of life care and consultations without benefit of legal counsel.
- Government interference in marriage counseling and childcare.
- Government appointed standards and rationing for what treatments we may receive.
- No private option if you leave your current insurance carrier.
These are just a few of the many devilish details hidden within Mr. Obama’s Affordable Health Choices Act. It seems unlikely that any sane person, after reading this bill, could support its passage. That may be exactly why Mr. Obama and the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate wanted to push it through so quickly.
The American people need to know the horrors contained within this bill. Health care represents 20% of our economy. That economy is now suffering a soft depression. If we truly desire health care reform, we deserve much better than what Mr. Obama is offering. This bill’s financial aspects alone have the potential to drive us into an unbearably hard depression, to say nothing of the damage it does to personal liberties. We cannot afford to make such massive changes to such a large portion of our economy with so little knowledge or time to review. All concerned Americans should contact their congress people and demand an end to this abominable and irresponsible legislation.