Debate: Was Obamacare Designed to Fail?

Posted: Jan 03, 2014 2:05 PM

Conservatives have long argued that Obamacare is a stalking horse for a fully government-run, single-payer healthcare system, much like the programs in Canada and Great Britain. Tellingly, this suggestion is often met with scoffs and feigned outrage from mainstream Democrats, but eager agreement from more honest lefty ideologues. During the fractious 2009 and 2010 healthcare debate, simply pointing out that Barack Obama has openly endorsed single payer healthcare on video was somehow a "smear." The media has also largely ignored Harry Reid's verbatim admission that Obamacare is an unsustainable program that's really just serving as a place-holder law. The "right-wing conspiracies" of yesteryear are being vindicated by events by the day. The question of whether the "Affordable" Care Act was specifically engineered to fail in order to pave the way for an even more intrusive federal intervention was our topic on Fox News last evening:

I tend to differ from some conservatives in that I don't believe Obamacare was supposed to "fail," per se. I think it was intended to shuffle along in mediocrity for years, as Americans became inured to the proposition of the central government micromanaging the nation's healthcare system. Some promises would be kept, others would be swept under the rug, and ultimately, complaints about Obamacare's flawed structure would give rise to a coordinated lefty push for single-payer. Essentially, the descent of the president's law was supposed to be a gradual glide, not a jarring crash. By bungling the roll-out so badly -- and by making red-letter pledges to the public that have been utterly shattered -- Statists have deeply damaged their credibility with voters. Democrats have historically enjoyed a wide public opinion advantage on healthcare. As a result of the Obamacare debacle, recent polling has shown the GOP achieving parity on the issue. Conservatives need to be careful about how they frame "we told you so" arguments, but those arguments must be made. The left was dead wrong about Obamacare, and the people they pilloried as racist liars were correct. The public will remember how this debate played out if and when Democrats come knocking with a "solution" to the mess they've created. It's the same solution they proffer for virtually every social ill -- real or imagined -- they encounter: More government. In light of how their beloved federal bureaucracy has performed over the last few months, voters will rightly be even less hospitable to the idea of turning over even more responsibility and freedom to the Beltway leviathan. I'll leave you with another high-profile rationale for Democrats' healthcare overhaul circling the drain:

The study, published today in the journal Science, finds that adult Medicaid beneficiaries rely on emergency rooms about 40 percent more than similar uninsured adults. “When you cover the uninsured, emergency room use goes up by a large magnitude,” said Amy Finkelstein, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who served as a lead investigator on the study, in an MIT press statement accompanying the study. There were no exceptions to the trend. “In no case were we able to find any subpopulations, or type of conditions, for which Medicaid caused a significant decrease in emergency department use,” said Finkelstein. We’ve seen real-world evidence that Medicaid increases emergency room utilization before, in states like California. But the Oregon study should settle any lingering debate.

My counterpart in the clip above asserted that Romneycare is working well in Massachusetts. Romneycare was sold as an antidote to uncompensated care and costly emergency room visits -- which increased following the law's passage. Romneycare has also brought about longer wait times for care, as well as the highest health costs in America. Obamacare expands Romneycare on a national scale, adding a boatload of new taxes and a rationing board into the mix for good measure. Will committed liberals (who smugly congratulate themselves for being "pro-science") be swayed by the empirical evidence on Medicaid's efficacy and ER visit data? Don't count on it.

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