So why does “Obamacare” (officially known as the “Affordable Care Act”) remain so irresistible for so many of our fellow Americans? Because at its core Obamacare is not about health care, so much as it is about the redistribution of wealth, and for those who are on the receiving end of the redistribution the agenda is completely irresistible.
When the federal government doles-out cash, it’s difficult to say “no.” That’s why many of our nation’s top business consulting firms are cashing-in, as state government officials hire the consulting firms to figure out how to set up the new federal health care bureaucracies, complete with their own state-specific websites and call centers.
How difficult and costly could it be, do you suppose, to set up a website and a call center for the residents of one individual state? In the world of private enterprise, most small to midsize companies doing business within a specific region of the U.S. would be foolish to spend much more than a hundred thousand dollars for their customer service website and the infrastructure for a call center, and in many cases the project could be completed for much less.
But with Obamacare, the “customer service” element has become more of a “corporate welfare” element. Companies, careers, and personal fortunes are being made by people who are the states, as firms bill the individual states millions of taxpayer dollars for the website and call center set-ups (and the Obama administration frequently offers to reimburse the states for the set-up costs).
Take for example a company called Leavitt Partners, LLC. Founded by the former Republican Governor of Utah (and former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services) Michael Leavitt, the company describes itself as a “healthcare intelligence business,” and is focused solely on state-by-state Obamacare compliance (they have already completed Utah’s insurance exchange start-up).
We’re talking here about Michael Leavitt, the former Utah Governor who last year endorsed and campaigned on behalf of Mitt Romney, the presidential candidate who pledged to “end” Obamacare. Yes, that Michael Leavitt is making millions advising the states on how to comply with the monstrosity that his pal Mitt wanted to eliminate.
How much money is in play for these companies? Consider that last fall representatives from Leavitt’s company traveled north and proposed to build an exchange for their tiny nieghboring state of Idaho, a state with a population of less than 1.7 million people. Once the Leavitt representatives unveiled their proposed price tag to build an exchange - $70 million-an incredulous member of Idaho’s state insurance task force asked “does Governor Leavitt really believe that this is a good idea?”
Company associate Brett Graham replied with the nuanced explanation that “Governor Leavitt doesn’t like the feds dictating to the states,” however, the Governor also believes that the states should “stand inside the circle with the feds rather than stand outside of it”- which was an artful way of saying “yes, Governor Leavitt likes this and wants to get paid to show you how to do it.”
Leavitt’s proposal was not the most expensive that the sparsely populated Idaho received. The global accounting and consulting firm KPMG weighed-in with a price tag of $77 million, and when a state official asked what the residents of Idaho would get in return for such a large expenditure, KPMG representative Andrew Gottschalk was vague: “It’s hard to explain exactly what you get…It’s hardware, it’s software, there’s infrastructure, there’s people and staffing” he stated. “There would likely be a call center. It’s all kinds of things… there’s a lot of stuff….but it’s hard to be specific.”
States spending millions of taxpayer dollars, and receiving “all kinds of things” and “a lot of stuff” in return. That’s our present-day reality with Obamacare. Along with Leavitt Partners and KPMG, global consulting firms Maximus and Mercer are also cashing-in. These firms employ well educated, highly skilled professionals with JD’s, MBA’s, and advanced degrees in information systems and healthcare management, most of whom would undoubtedly reject the idea that they are welfare recipients. As the Maximus corporate website states, “we leverage our extensive experience and strong commitment to ethics to provide high quality services and solutions.”
Along with the Obamacare cash that’s flowing in to private consultants’ accounts, there’s the money that’s being handed-out to state and county governments under the auspice of Medicaid expansion. A key component of Obamacare was to have mandated that the individual states reduce eligibility requirements for Medicaid, and expand the number of participants in their respective programs. However, the United States Supreme Court overturned that component of the Obamacare law, so expansion of Medicaid is an elective choice for each of the states.
But not to worry, the President has made the expansion of the federal Medicaid welfare program irresistible, as the Administration is offering to pay 100% of the expansion costs for the first three years, for states that agree to the expansion this year. That’s why, for example, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has refused to allow an Obamacare insurance exchange in his state, nonetheless agreed to the Medicaid expansion – when you can get the fed’s to pay for people’s “free” healthcare, that alleviates the state and county agencies from paying for it. It creates an addiction to federal spending, but if you’re in charge of a state or federal agency, it makes sense on some level.
This is the reality of Obamacare. It’s wildly unpopular for the masses, but irresistible for those on the receiving end of the money grab.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.