The Supreme Court's decision last month to uphold the Obamacare mandate tax did not vindicate the propriety or efficacy of the law itself, a point Chief Justice Roberts explicitly stated in his ruling. "It is not [The Court's] job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices,” he wrote. As we learn more about Obamacare's practical consequences, the urgent need for repeal becomes increasingly apparent. Consider the following news items from the past week alone:
The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that in 2015 the country will have 62,900 fewer doctors than needed. And that number will more than double by 2025, as the expansion of insurance coverage and the aging of baby boomers drive up demand for care. Even without the health care law, the shortfall of doctors in 2025 would still exceed 100,000. Health experts, including many who support the law, say there is little that the government or the medical profession will be able to do to close the gap by 2014, when the law begins extending coverage to about 30 million Americans. It typically takes a decade to train a doctor.
“We have a shortage of every kind of doctor, except for plastic surgeons and dermatologists,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, the dean of the new medical school at the University of California, Riverside, founded in part to address the region’s doctor shortage. “We’ll have a 5,000-physician shortage in 10 years, no matter what anybody does.” Experts describe a doctor shortage as an “invisible problem.” Patients still get care, but the process is often slow and difficult. In Riverside, it has left residents driving long distances to doctors, languishing on waiting lists, overusing emergency rooms and even forgoing care. “It results in delayed care and higher levels of acuity,” said Dustin Corcoran, the chief executive of the California Medical Association, which represents 35,000 physicians. People “access the health care system through the emergency department, rather than establishing a relationship with a primary care physician who might keep them from getting sicker.”
The article goes on to mention the draining pool of doctors who are accepting new Medicaid patients, which will throw up another obstacle to care for indigent Americans -- especially after the entitlement program undergoes a massive, Obamacare-mandated expansion. As opponents of the law repeatedly warned, access to health coverage does not equal access to health care. In Canada and other countries with socialized medicine, everyone is "covered," but doctors are scarce, innovation is curtailed and treatment is limited. This can lead to long waiting periods, government rationing, perverse doctor lotteries and denied care. Furthermore, Democrats chose to exclude meaningful tort reform from their 2,700 page bill, further hanging physicians out to dry. This is why older doctors are quickly shuffling towards retirement, and many promising young students eschew medical school in favor of other careers. Obamacare takes our demographic struggles on this front and makes them even more acute, much sooner.
About one in 10 employers plans to end workers' health insurance as the new healthcare law takes effect, according to a new study. The finding could bolster opponents of the law, who argue that its changes to the healthcare system will force workers out of insurance plans they like. Supporters of the law say most people will keep their current coverage. Surveying 560 U.S. companies, consulting firm Deloitte found that 9 percent of employers are planning to drop employee health benefits within three years. Eighty-one percent said they would continue covering employees, and 10 percent said they were not sure.
Is your employer among the 19 percent that are either planning to drop coverage, or are still considering it? Let's also recall the president's verbatim promise during the healthcare debate: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”
The latest CBO scoring of Obamacare, in the wake of the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision upholding the overhaul's individual mandate as an allowable (although seemingly unprecedented) tax on inactivity, shows that President Obama's centerpiece legislation would cost about $2 trillion over its real first decade (2014 through 2023). The CBO also says that — despite its colossal cost and its unprecedented expansion of power and control over Americans' lives — Obamacare would, as of a decade from now, leave 30 million people uninsured. At the time of Obamacare's passage, Democrats touted the fact that the CBO had then said that the gross cost of Obamacare's insurance coverage provisions would be "only" $938 billion.
Moreover, the CBO and/or the Medicare chief actuary have previously said that Obamacare would raise health insurance premiums, would raise overall U.S. health costs, would raise taxes on Americans and on American businesses, and would siphon something approaching $1 trillion (from 2014 through 2023) out of Medicare. In the process (according to the Medicare chief actuary), Obamacare would reduce reimbursement rates for Medicare providers to the point where they'd be lower even than the notoriously low reimbursement rates paid to Medicaid providers — therefore jeopardizing seniors' access to care. Oh, and Obamacare would also establish the unelected and largely unaccountable 15-member Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to institute further Medicare cuts.
“None of this was allocated three years ago when we created a strategic plan to become profitable,” CEO Mike Minogue told the House Committee on Small Business last week. Minogue testified the amount Abiomed will pay for the excise tax is the equivalent of 15 percent of the company’s research and development budget, 10 percent of its employee head count, or almost double what it spends on health care for hundreds of employees. “This tax will affect jobs. It will mix health care reform with tax policy and it will be extra detrimental to companies that are not yet profitable and need every dollar to survive,” he said. Minogue also cited logistical concerns. The exact regulation, still not finalized, goes into effect Jan. 1 2013, and Abiomed’s books have to be closed and audited by March. According to the medical-device industry’s national association, the field employs more than 400,000 Americans, and 70 percent of medical device companies are small businesses.
This is merely one small component of a larger picture, which led the CBO to conclude that Obamacare will cost the US economy 800,000 jobs. The latest NYT/CBS poll shows public approval of Obamacare underwater by a 36/50 margin. Rasmussen's new numbers reflect an enduring majority in favor of legislative repeal. The vast majority of national Democrats continue to support the even-less-popular Obamacare mandate tax, in lockstep with the president. The only way to rid the country of this costly governmental intrusion and its related repercussions is to defeat those who back the law and replace them with public servants who do not.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography