Rod St. Aubyn: Obamacare Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving


So much has happened since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly called Obamacare.  In fact it could be said that Obamacare is “the gift that keeps on giving.”  If you go back in history you will remember that this act never would have occurred without promises from the Obama administration and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for “gifts” to several Democratic Senators.  How can anyone forget that passage was not guaranteed until late night promises for special Medicare and Medicaid provisions benefiting key Democratic Senators from Nebraska (Cornhusker Kickback), Florida (Gator Aid) and Louisiana (The Louisiana Purchase)?

What other gifts have occurred as the result of Obamacare?  Some are good gifts and some not so good.  I would argue that there are many.  Among those gifts are:

  • Gift of loss of several congressional seats and the senate majority by the Democrats – There is no question that passage of Obamacare has resulted in many Democratic losses in both the house and the senate during the past two elections.   Congressman Earl Pomeroy’s vote for Obamacare is often described as the major reason for his loss to Rick Berg.  In this year’s Senate races, Obamacare was a key issue brought up by Republican candidates.  The Republican’s gain in the senate majority is expected to be larger after the upcoming run-off election in Louisiana.  Sen. Mary Landrieu, who cast one of the key deciding votes for passage of Obamacare, is expected to lose that election.  I am not a big fan of polls, but a recent Gallup poll (November 12) showed that Democrats had a record low favorability rating at 36% while Republican’s favorability rating remained steady at 42%.  The current approval rating for the President is at 44%.  Never has Obamacare had a majority support of the public.
  • Gift of Lies and Deception – Who will ever forget those famous comments, “if you like your plan you can keep it” or “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor”, stated by the President in support of Obamacare?  Where are the savings of several thousands of dollars for each family that was promised by the advocates of Obamacare?  Now recent disclosure of controversial comments by MIT professor and a chief architect of the ACA, Jonathon Gruber, showed how deceitful this administration was with the American public regarding Obamacare.  The problem is that these statements did not just occur one time, but 3 or more times.  These statements further erode public confidence in the President and his party.
  • Gift of Loss of Consumer Choices – Fewer insurers are offering insurance products in ND in the Individual market (non-group insurance) post Obamacare.  Currently only 3 insurers (Blue Cross Blue Shield of ND, Sanford Health Insurance, and Medica) offer consumer choices within the Exchange.  Advocates of Obamacare had stated that it would result in more competition and choices.
  • Gift of Constant Changes and an Unknown Future – This administration has illegally delayed several provisions of this Act, illegally mandated benefits (birth control with no out of pocket costs), and made other decisions resulting in numerous court cases.  The administration has won some cases, lost some cases, and some are left to be considered.  The latest one could have a significant impact on ND residents.  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge that the ACA specifically limited health insurance subsidies to only those people purchasing insurance on state-based exchanges.  As on January 1, 2014, only 18 states and the District of Columbia had elected to have their own health insurance exchange.  ND, as well as most other states elected to not operate their own health insurance exchange instead utilizing the Federal Exchange.  It is expected that the hearing will occur this spring and a ruling is expected by the end of June, 2015.  If the Supreme Court decides that subsidies are permitted for only state-based exchanges then millions of citizens could see their premiums significantly increase without these subsidies.  If that were to occur, the public support for this Act will plummet.

Republican candidates during this election promised to repeal Obamacare.  The problem that they have is that they may have control of the House and the Senate, but the President is sure to veto a simple repeal of Obamacare and they don’t have the votes to override a presidential veto.  In addition, there are parts of the Affordable Care Act that people like.  Unless the Republicans do a “repeal and replace” I fear that little will be accomplished.  But the bottom line is that Obamacare does little to actually control health care costs.  Until that is done, nothing is going to ever be accomplished in health care reform.  So until we see TRUE health care reform, we will just continue to have a “gift that keeps on giving.”