Chronicle of a federal policy calamity

Published Nov 20, 2013 at 6:42 am (Updated Nov 18, 2013 at 10:33 am)

President Obama pushed omnibus federal health care legislation which he asserts will benefit all Americans, reducing cost and expanding the ability of individuals to receive treatment for virtually any physical ailment plus preventive care, making the blanket assurance that we can retain our insurance policies and health care providers if we wish.

The legislation passes without Republican support, influential Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi telling members of Congress that they can learn what is in the bill after it passes.

The nation gradually comes to learn that the devil is in the details: the bill will throw millions of Americans onto the Medicaid rolls as the program reaches the point at which expenses cripple it; it contains a host of new taxes, including a 2.3 percent levy on the gross revenue of medical device manufacturers, incentives for employers not to have 50 or more individuals on the payroll and for them to reduce hours worked per week to less than 30, a nominal penalty which makes it worth the while of healthy young people not to purchase insurance until they become sick.

Problems in implementing the law crop up, necessitating that the president unilaterally delay the employer mandate to provide coverage.

As the health care website is to go live, it is virtually non-functioning, frustrating myriad consumers that are told that it will be weeks or months before the multiple problems with it can be corrected.

The law triggers the cancellation of health insurance policies for millions of Americans, bringing about angst and anger among the insured.

The president is forced to issue a mea culpa and to attempt to pave the way for the cancelled policies to be restored, at least for one year, this within just weeks of when the new policies are to go into effect, this to occur only after state insurance commissioners approve the policies.

Insurance company executives indicate that it is not feasible or desirable for them to restore the former policies at this point, and they huddle at the White House in a hastily arranged meeting with the president to brainstorm about how they can get him off the hook for making a bogus promise.

We squandered the opportunity to study the health care delivery systems of countries that have succeeded and to adopt their best practices; we did not do that. A deeply flawed plan which has not had the support of a majority of the American people and which is now widely condemned lies in ruins, but the president and his loyalists tell us that we must go forward with it. It will be interesting to observe the changes made to the president’s plan before the mid-term congressional elections to occur one year from now, one in which most of those that voted for the “Affordable” Patient Care Act will be in danger of losing their seats.

The president’s approval rating and the number of citizens that find him to be truthful are at all-time lows, threatening his legacy. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Oren Spiegler

Upper St. Clair

Chronicle of a federal policy calamity

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