Last week's 5-4 healthcare decision by the Supreme Court was undoubtedly a short-term victory for President Barack Obama and has brought with it the requisite bump in poll numbers. Unfortunately, the win came at the price of revealing to all Americans the fact that the president's plan clearly breaks his promise not to raise taxes on the middle class. As this reality seeps through the consciousness of the country, his already unpopular plan is likely to fall further in the polls. Keep in mind that a poll released at the end of June showed that, if the Supreme Court upheld the law, 77 percent of Americans wanted Congress to go back to work to fix it. Even after the decision was made, a Gallup poll showed 49 percent of independents wanted all or part of the law repealed while 40 percent did not.
Now, the law was written purposefully to back-load the taxes—in other words, enjoy the upside now, pay the price later. It’s like eating a large pizza with extra cheese and finding out two weeks from now that you don’t fit into your jeans anymore. Only much, much worse: In fact, according to the Joint Economic Committee,
The "Cadillac tax" on high-cost health care isn’t scheduled to take effect until 2018. But because the tax is linked to general inflation, and not medical inflation, it will hit more and more health plans over time – not just "Cadillac" insurance plans, but "Chevy" plans and even "Yugo" health plans.…The "high income" surtax is not indexed for inflation at all – it’s designed to hit more and more middle-income families every year. Page 87 of the 2010 Medicare trustees report notes that the tax will hit only 3 percent of workers next year, when the tax takes effect – but a whopping 79 percent of all workers by 2080.
Let's take the American public's concerns with the law and see how they fare in the post-Supreme Court decision world:
The law is too expensive. A study released in April by Chuck Blahous, one of only two trustees to Medicare, reported that an accurate price tag on the law was $1.15 trillion and that, rather than lowering the deficit, it could cause it to increase by nearly $530 billion (lower range estimate $340 billion) by 2021. Blahous was appointed to the Medicare Board of Trustees by President Obama. Since the decision, the court's ruling on Medicaid has this same expert now predicting that the law may have changed "in such a way that is will add substantially to federal deficits from almost any vantage point." In fact, Blahous goes on to infer that the court's change to the law "could … result in substantial cuts, later in this decade, to the subsidies for low-income individuals who are compelled to buy health insurance under the law."
- The law is irresponsible. See above. It does virtually nothing to reverse the problems inherent in the current system or enact sensible, patient-centered reforms (see below). Instead, it plays fast and loose with the "pay-fors" in the plan, essentially spending the same "savings" … twice.
- Those implementing the law are unaccountable. Destined to go down in history as one of the most intrusive laws never read prior to passage, Americans are finding out that, buried in nearly 3,000 pages, was the creation of a new board. The Independent Payment Advisory Board will be comprised of 15 nonelected bureaucrats who will be in charge of making decisions about our access to healthcare. For a taste of what is to come, just remember back during the healthcare debate when a similar group recommended that women under the age of 50 should no longer get mammograms. This was shocking, of course, because many women who contract premenopausal breast cancer die, and the greatest way to reduce fatalities is to catch the disease early. Although quickly reversed because of the political clout of the breast cancer lobby, it provides a frightening harbinger of things to come.
- We may lose our current healthcare providers. As one ad done by a family practitioner so eloquently puts it, "President Obama promised my patients that they could keep me, but what if because of this new healthcare law, I can't keep them." With unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats empowered to cut doctor reimbursements for Medicare patients and even more red tape to wade through, more and more doctors may have to stop seeing Medicare patients.
The president deserves credit for trying to improve our system. Unfortunately, the so-called cure is worse than the disease. As this debate progresses through the crucible of a presidential campaign, ultimately Americans will decide this is not the change we were hoping for.
- Read Mary Kate Cary: 5 Reasons the Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling Helps the GOP
- Follow the Thomas Jefferson Street blog on Twitter at @TJSBlog.
- Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.