With ObamaCare still as unpopular as ever — the latest Rassmussen poll shows Americans favoring repeal of the new health-care law by a 53-40 margin — the Obama administration has developed a new theory as to why. We simply don’t trust government enough.
Donald Berwick, who is leaving his post this month as director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services, told The New York Times that health-care reform was a lot like the moon shot. Americans weren’t rocket scientists, he noted. They didn’t understand everything the government was doing, but they still believed in the government’s ability to send men to the moon. Why couldn’t it be the same with health-care reform, he lamented.
Well, perhaps because NASA wasn’t trying to shoot most of us into space. On the other hand, all of us will be impacted by this health-care law. Indeed, health care involves some of the most personal, private and important decisions in our lives.
Or maybe its because we’ve already seen enough results of ObamaCare to have a pretty good idea that it’s not going to work.
For example, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows family premiums increasing by a whopping 9% this year, three times more than the previous year’s increase. The average family policy now costs more than $15,000 per year. Not only has ObamaCare failed to slow premium growth, but at least 2 percentage points of that increase is directly attributable to the health-care law’s provisions.
ObamaCare is also already reducing our health-insurance choices. The new law has already driven a number of insurance companies out of the market, meaning there will be less competition and fewer choices. Moreover, the new law has already cut back on flexible-spending accounts used by some 30 million workers, slashing permissible contributions in half and limiting what account funds can be used to pay for. And just released regulations from HHS may well eliminate most health savings accounts, effecting another 10 million workers and their families. And, of course, once the individual mandate kicks in, in 2014, assuming its not struck down by the Supreme Court, all of us will have to purchase a government-designed insurance plan, even if it is more expensive or contains benefits that we don’t want.
We also know that ObamaCare is going to cost us more in debt and taxes. A new study from the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the subsidies in the bill will add $1.36 trillion to the national debt over the first seven years after the bill is fully implemented. And at a time when 47% of Americans already pay no income tax, the bill’s tax credits will remove as many as 8.1 million more Americans from the tax rolls.
And we know that the health-care law will slash payments to physicians and hospitals, meaning it will be more difficult for us to find and see a physician. The government’s own actuaries estimate that these payment cuts could force as many as 15% of hospitals to close.
Finally, we should remember that ObamaCare contained a Ponzi scheme-like, long-term program, the CLASS Act, that was so actuarially unsound that even this administration had to pull the plug on it.
“Trust us,” just doesn’t seem like an adequate response to these problems.
On issue after issue, the Obama administration has made it clear that they believe they know better than the average American. We should just turn our lives over to them and trust them to make decisions for us.
No doubt we all make mistakes in our lives. But in the last few years, we’ve seen the government invade a country that turned out not to have weapons of mass destruction, ran up $15 trillion in debt, all but bankrupted Medicare and Social Security and nudged us toward a housing bubble that nearly brought down the economy. Should we really trust a government that thought shipping guns to Mexican drug lords and giving $535 million to a money-losing solar panel company were good ideas?
In fact, that will ultimately be the big question in next year’s elections. Whom do you trust to run your life, yourself or the self-appointed experts from the government? And that’s not rocket science.
Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.
This article originally appeared in New York Post.