Tom McClintock My Turn: When the Obamacare fever dream breaks
It has become obvious over the past few weeks that we are now watching nothing less than the collapse of the American health care system. Millions of Americans are losing their health plans and are being set adrift into a dysfunctional system where they cannot find comparable affordable policies.
Few are signing up on the Obamacare exchanges. How few we don’t know, because the numbers are so embarrassing the administration refuses to release them. There are published reports that some 80 percent of the signups are pushed into the Medicaid system, which is itself nearing functional collapse as doctors simply opt out.
Those who are able to keep their health plans are seeing their rates skyrocket to unaffordable extremes. The few who can find affordable policies often discover that they are losing their doctors.
Many employers are dropping their employee health plans, or reducing salaries, or cutting back on work hours, or laying off workers as they try to cope with the increased costs. A constituent of mine reports her employer cut her salary 23 percent as it tries to deal with Obamacare costs.
The Obamacare website is a monument to governmental incompetence. This is a website designed to sell a single product that has been under development for more than three years at a taxpayer cost of more than $600 million — more than was spent developing Facebook or Twitter.
And yet it does not work.
But that’s not the big problem. The big problem is that today there are fewer people with health insurance — apparently a lot fewer — than before this program began less than one month ago.
This is the disaster that Republicans tried to prevent or at least delay. Now that disaster is unfolding before our eyes with dire consequences for millions of Americans.
With all its flaws, the American health care system was the finest in the world: it was the most innovative, the most advanced, the most adaptable and the most responsive to the individual needs of patients.
And now we are losing it.
The one question I keep hearing is, “Well, what do the Republicans propose?”
In fact, Republicans have had a comprehensive alternative for years. Spearheaded by Dr. Tom Price of Georgia and Dr. Phil Roe of Tennessee and sponsored by the Republican Study Committee, this package would bring within the reach of every American a health plan that they could chose according to the individual needs of their own families, that they could own and they could control.
But this package has never passed the House. And it is high time that it did.
• It extends the same tax breaks we currently give to companies to individual employees so they can afford to buy their own health care again according to their own needs.
• It expands Health Savings accounts so people can meet their needs with pre-tax income.
• It restores to people the freedom to shop across state lines to find the best policies to suit their needs.
• It restores flexibility so that health plans can accommodate people with pre-existing conditions while expanding risk pools to provide for those conditions.
• It attacks cost-drivers like medical liability law that helping to make health care unaffordable.
• It restores pricing flexibility to plans — so that a healthy young person can again purchase a catastrophic plan for next to nothing.
I realize this reform will be buried in the Senate — but it is important that the House pass it so that the American people can see that there is still hope to save what was once the finest health care system in the world, once this fever dream of Obamacare finally breaks.
We have just been through a government shutdown because Democrats refused even to consider delaying the Obamacare train wreck. They got their way. And that train wreck is now upon us.
I believe in coming months, the American people will recognize the urgent warnings that the Republicans tried so desperately to convey. And they will be looking to us for a way out.
Congressman Tom McClintock represents California’s 4th District, which comprises portions of Nevada (including Truckee), Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras, Alpine, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties, and the eastern Madera and eastern Fresno counties.
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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.