Obamacare: Not too late to take back this lemon

Several states have "lemon laws" to protect purchasers of cars and other consumer goods. Others require a cooling-off period for major purchases or financial decisions - a specified period of time during which the buyer has the right to return goods for a refund or to cancel a contract without penalty.

Admittedly, three years is probably too long for a cooling-off period. But with the arrival of Obamacare's third birthday, it isn't too late to at least wish we had a federal lemon law for acts of Congress.

We need not argue whether the health care law's advocates misled their "customers" when they claimed it would "lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year," not add "one dime to our deficits" and "bend the cost curve." After three years, we know all of these claims to be false.

The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation has shown that from 2009 to 2012 premiums climbed $2,370 for the average family with an employer-provided plan-a rate faster than during the previous four years under President George W. Bush.

A recent analysis of cost projections made by the Government Accountability Office shows that unless current policy is changed, Obamacare is likely to add $6.2 trillion to the national debt.

And Medicare's actuary showed (within a month of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act being signed into law) that Obamacare would increase national health expenditures by more than $300 billion just in its first decade, bending the cost curve upward.

President Obama made other false promises as well. For example: "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what." Or who could forget his "firm pledge" that "under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes." And his promise that "Medicare is a government program, but don't worry: I'm not going to touch it."

Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin has demonstrated that a substantial fraction of the $2.4 trillion in new taxes the law will impose between now and 2030 will be borne by middle-class taxpayers. The CBO has projected that up to 20 million workers will lose their employer-provided coverage and be forced either onto Medicaid or into state health insurance exchanges.

As for Medicare, Obamacare takes $716 billion out of the program to finance a $1.9 trillion expansion of coverage. This will drive many doctors out of Medicare and (according to the program's own actuary) threaten the financial viability of up to 40 percent of the nation's health facilities.

Add to these broken promises a tsunami of unintended consequences - roughly 1 million lost jobs; full-time workers cut to fewer than 30 hours a week by employers evading the employer mandate; a looming doctor shortage that the law will worsen; large numbers of poor people who will be forced off private coverage and onto Medicaid (America's worst health care program); and the devastating adverse impact on medical innovation that will result from the tax on medical device manufacturers and the creation of accountable care organizations.

Americans deserve a chance to take back the law Congress rushed to pass three years ago.

Some believe that repeal of Obamacare is an impossible pie-in- the-sky idea. But they would do well to remember the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act. That law was repealed 16 months after its 1988 enactment when seniors literally took to the streets to make their anger known. With the exception of a few minor provisions, Congress repealed the entire act.

The people spoke. Congress listened. What a concept.

 

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Christopher J.
Conover

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