Obamacare had to be passed pronto. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass it so we could know what’s in it. All 2,000-plus pages were finally passed on March 23 through trickery and procedural hocus pocus.
There were supposed to be provisions that would go into effect right away, like establishing a mechanism for having your 26-year-old offspring on your family plan or covering folks with pre-existing conditions. None of these have taken effect and the reason the popularity of Obamacare continues to decline is that people have been calling their insurance agent asking when this stuff if going to kick in and nobody has the answer.
So let’s take a look at where we are. The missed deadlines include:
• Establishing task forces on breast cancer.
• Alaskan Health Care.
• Publishing a list of new authorities granted under the law, and work on defining “under-
served” areas that receive higher health-care subsidies.
• Identifying high-risk pools. The pools were supposed to provide coverage for individuals who cannot get health insurance due to chronic illness. Obamacare slated the establishment of the pools to occur no later than 90 days after the legislation passed on March 23.
• There is still no mechanism to add children up to age 26 onto the family policy of their parents.
Especially on the high-risk pools, it gets worse. Not only has the secretary of Health and Human Services failed to meet the high-risk pool deadline, but earlier this week the Congressional Budget Office found that the pools will be underfunded by $5 billion to $10 billion.
This blunder could result in 500,000 individuals with pre-existing conditions not receiving the coverage they were promised. Ironically, this is one of the things there could have been bipartisan agreement on. Everyone agrees there needed to be a vehicle to cover pre-existing conditions. This is a travesty that points back to the need to take healthcare one step at a time, not in a comprehensive manner. Whether it’s comprehensive immigration reform, comprehensive financial reform or comprehensive healthcare reform, it’s always too big and difficult to implement. Congress and the government don’t do “comprehensive” very well.
Rep. Dave Camp (R.-Mich.), ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, in hearings last month pointed out the irony in the missed deadlines on service while the White House, HHS and outside groups launched an aggressive public relations push to sell the law.
Camp said, “While the administration is focused on an aggressive, taxpayer-funded public-relations campaign to combat the healthcare bill’s increasingly high disapproval numbers, they have missed numerous implementation deadlines. It is important that we carry out our congressional oversight responsibilities,”
These pushes to sell the bill include a slick promotional mailing to seniors and post cards from the IRS advertising tax breaks under the law. Finally, the government admits to spending $18.5 million on an updated website, healthcare.gov, which promotes the changes in the law with subliminal messages on every page of “Health Care is Getting Better, So Is Healthcare.gov.” Finally, when you add your information to see what the government has to offer for you, it always seems to come up with the same answer, “your plan is bad, the government plan is good.”
According to the Heritage Foundation’s analysis of Obamacare, “It took less than one day for Obamacare to start falling short of its promises. Three months later, the prognosis has not improved. The simple truth is that Obamacare hurts the job market, raises costs, cuts seniors’ benefits, and increases government waste.”
Dr. Paul Broun (R.-Ga.) is a congressman in one of the most diverse districts in Georgia and is a primary care physician. He says he “knocked on the President’s open door” several times during the debate and found it to be closed to him and every other healthcare provider in the Congress.
Dr. Chris Cates, a heart doctor, former candidate for Congress and representative of several professional organizations, had an encounter with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.) leading up to the passage of Obamacare. When Hoyer was asked about including healthcare providers in the crafting of the bill, Hoyer said, “This isn’t about health care.”
Well then, what is it about? It is about control.
Rep. Broun held an America Speaking Out Town Hall on July 8 in Clarke County, Ga., the most Democratic-leaning county in his district. Overwhelmingly, his constituents are fed up with Obamacare.
“Tenth District residents made it clear that they want Washington to repeal Obamacare and now. As a result, Republicans have introduced legislation that would completely repeal this government takeover of healthcare. Unfortunately, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will not allow the House to take an up or down vote,” Broun said.
Broun continued: “House Republicans have not given up. We have introduced a discharge petition. If we can gather 218 signatures, Speaker Pelosi will have to bring our bill to the House floor for a vote. Since Obamacare became law, public opposition has increased. Georgians have demanded something better, and I am fighting to ensure your voices are heard in Washington.”
Missing deadlines could be a good thing. If the bill continues to be behind in implementation, then the new Congress will have less to dismantle in 2011. But let’s not pop the champagne corks yet, Dr. Donald Berwick is on the job through a recess appointment to administer Medicare and Medicaid. He’ll only be there until January through this recess appointment, but a lot of damage can be done between now and then.