Editor's Note: Debra J. Saunders is off. The following column is by Betsy McCaughey.The Clinton campaign is finally owning up to what most Americans learned the hard way. The Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable. In fact, its costs are "crushing" people who have to buy health insurance. Hillary Clinton vows to fix the problem, but don't count on it. Clinton's remedies are bad medicine. Some are so preposterous she can't possibly believe they'd work. She could use a dose of truth serum.
Six years in, President Obama still boasts that his health law saves people money, but Clinton sees that claptrap doesn't sell on the campaign trail. Voters know otherwise. This year, premiums for Obamacare plans soared 15 percent on average, and deductibles (what you have to pay out-of-pocket before your insurance kicks in) increased in 41 states. The average individual with a silver plan has to spend more than $3,000 before getting anything covered, while a bronze plan holder has to fork over nearly $6,000. That's insurance?
No wonder many Americans are putting off seeing a doctor, despite having insurance.
Clinton's offers pie-in-the-sky remedies. First, she'll force insurers to cover three doctor visits for "free" before you have to pay a deductible. This would simply push up premiums across the board, even for people who don't need to see a doctor. She must think voters are stupid.
Same is true regarding her pledge to cap out-of-pocket drug costs at $250 a month. Sounds wonderful, but the tooth fairy isn't paying the rest. Your insurer has to and will hike your premiums.
Next, she's vaguely vowing to get tough with insurers. Huh? UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Cigna and other large insurers are already bleeding red ink trying to sell Obamacare plans, and are signaling they may drop out of Obamacare altogether. Getting tough on them would backfire. In fact, insurers are pressing the Obama administration for more taxpayer funded subsidies, and suing the administration to be reimbursed for their losses. It's quite possible the administration will settle the lawsuits rather than fight.
Clinton is also promising bigger subsidies (tax credits) for people who sign up for Obamacare. Never mind that Obamacare is already hugely in the red. According to the latest Congressional Budget Office report, released last week, over the next 10 years Obamacare will add $1.4 trillion to the nation's debt -- that is, if Obamacare survives. The signs are it is teetering toward collapse. But remember when the Obama administration promised its health law was "paid for?" That was a whopper.
Hillary Clinton is bashing her primary competitor, Bernie Sanders, for proposing a Medicare-for-all health plan that she calls unaffordable. She warns it would have to be paid for by middle-class tax hikes. But she's not saying how to pay for her own Obamacare fixes. Her proposed 4 percent tax on millionaires would yield only $150 billion over 10 years, a tiny fraction of what her additional new tax credits would require.
Not to mention that she wants illegal immigrants to be eligible for Obamacare, adding between $22.5 billion and $37.5 billion a year in costs. Mind-boggling.
Here's a reality check. Insurers struggling with Obamacare are already drastically reducing your choice of doctors and hospitals to cut costs. It's called narrowing networks. Expect even fewer choices in the future.
Clinton urges voters to make history by electing her, but they should remember her history. As first lady, she proposed making health reform work through sheer coercion, automatically enrolling people who hadn't signed up and garnishing their wages if they didn't pay. Never mind whether they considered her plans affordable. If Clinton returns to the White House, expect her to show her true colors, not the phony fixes she's proposing now.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of "Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution." To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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