Jim Clark: The problems with Obamacare law
Have the Republicans snatched victory from the jaws of defeat? The headlines blaming the GOP for the government shutdown have been instantaneously replaced by headlines condemning the Obama Administration for the abject failure of the government engineered insurance exchanges mandated by the rollout of Obamacare.
It’s overgenerous to credit Republicans with a turnaround. The bail out was more due to the Obama Administration being unbelievably dysfunctional.
It’s inconceivable that Pres. Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Sibelius failed to test the central government-coordinated health insurance exchange before loosing it on the public but that’s exactly what happened.
American citizens are facing fines and the ire of the IRS for not having Obamacare acceptable insurance coverage by early next year yet there is, for now, no means by which to contract for such insurance as long as the Obamacare web site remains non-functioning.
Making things worse, millions of citizens who do have health insurance are receiving notice of cancellation of their existing policies because of non-compliance with Obamacare’s minimum coverage standards (yes, 60 year old widows are required to have coverage for child birth plus free birth control).
Let’s hope Republicans don’t blow it again. Rather than reversing or defunding the entire law at a time when they control only one house of Congress GOP leaders should concentrate on securing Democrats’ support for fixing the patently objectionable parts of the law.
Mandating that insurance companies craft policy coverage that large cohorts of people do not want and do not want to pay for should be modified to give customers more choices.
Another “fix,” one that already has some Democrat support, is to repeal the 2.3 percent medical device tax. Initially it was thought that it was some sort of sales tax but it is in fact a tax of the gross revenues of medical device manufacturers.
As such, it translates in most cases to an approximate 15 percent surtax on net profits according to CPA John Solari. And being a gross receipts tax it applies whether or not a company is profitable. This will stifle startup medical device companies and impair competition.
Finally, the costs of this tax will just be passed on to device users many of whom will be on Medicare, Medicaid or government-subsidized policies (that is if they ever get the exchanges working) and thus just drive health care costs up further.
Still another problem that needs fixing is the negative incentive provided by Obamacare’s policy cost subsidy scheme. Families earning between 138 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level income can receive policy cost subsidies.
A family with income slightly more than 400 percent receives nothing but is mandated to purchase insurance so they’re better off to reduce their income and receive a subsidy.
The Kaiser Family Foundation offers the example of a husband and wife in their 60s making $64,000 per year and currently paying $7,200 per year for a bare-bones Kaiser Permanente policy with a $5,000 deductible.
Since the plan does not cover maternity, healthy child visits or dependent coverage to age 26 (which they don’t need) they must now get an Obamacare compliant Kaiser plan costing $15,000 per year which still has a $5,000 deductible.
Twice the premium for no additional coverage. But if they reduce their income to $62,040 (400 percent of the poverty level) they will get a subsidy of $1,207 per month.
Obamacare is chock full of idiotic provisions such as these that inevitably occur when Congress passes a bill without reading it.
Republicans should concentrate on common-sense solutions to these kinds of problems, which many Democrats will support, rather than trying to repeal the entire law when they control only one house of Congress.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates, and has served on the Washoe County and Nevada state GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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If Israel and the United Kingdom are any indication, widespread vaccination will knock the pandemic down to … normal life. Something near.