Obama’s promises, promises

“How do you know when a politician is lying?”, asks the hoary joke. His lips are moving.

Some politicians are skilled manipulators of words. Recall President Bill Clinton’s definition of what “is” is. Our current president prefers the head-down, right-up-the-center approach.

He campaigned on a promise to decrease health care spending by households by $2,500 per person. His bill will increase it by $2,100 according to the Congressional Budget Office.

He lambasted Hillary Clinton for insisting on an individual mandate. In office, he enthusiastically supported it. By 2016, the mandate will be fully in effect. For those without insurance the fine will be $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater.

He attacked Senator McCain for wanting to impose taxes on health care plans. In office, he made taxes on plans, insurance, drugs, and medical device companies, and on unearned income, a major funding source for his program.

Once in office, he promised the American people that if they liked their health care plan, they could keep it. Now it appears that this too is a lie, at least if his bureaucrats in the administration and at HHS have their way.

According to an 83-page working report leaked last Friday, it appears that the administration is on track to replace one in two employer health plans with the mandates, restrictions, and plan design of ObamaCare. In fact, if the draft regulations would have applied to last year, more than 66 percent of people covered by small business plans would have been forced into the new government designed plans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) assured Americans that Congress had to pass the bill in order for us to find out what’s in it. Now, with no less than three federal agencies hard on the task—HHS, Department of Labor, and the IRS—they’ve discovered that the president’s promise of “not lose your current health plans” means that you may in fact lose your plan if your employer makes any changes to it.

There are all sorts of provisions in the legislation, starting this September, that promise to make health plans more expensive. Next year, for example, employers are estimating cost increases due to the mandates to keep adult children on plans until age 26 and the elimination of lifetime caps. But these are just the teaser changes. The real meat of the $1 trillion over 10 years, 2,000-plus page bill takes effect in 2014. That’s when the mandates are activated. That’s when the bureaucrats start dictating plan design. That’s when working Americans will pay more and get less.

The leaked report shows big government at its worst, which is exactly what opponents of the massive health plan feared. Nothing in the health plan offers the hope of real cost control, the issue with which the majority of Americans and American businesses struggle. As the mandates kick in, employers’ costs will rise, they are already struggling with a poor economy both in the domestic market and internationally. If they take action and make minor changes to their plans—the sorts of routine changes that occur annually such as adjustments to co-pays and cost sharing—the government threatens to take away their “grandfathered” status.

Their employees will find themselves in the new government designed and regulated plans. According to an analysis in the Federal Register, by 2013, 51 percent of Americans will be in plans without “grandfathered” status. Under the worst case scenario, as many as four in five small business employees and 69 percent of American workers overall, will lose their coverage.

Employers will have little choice but to pick up the tab initially, before finding ways to pass it on down the line to employees and customers.

Ultimately, all Americans will pay with smaller paychecks and fewer jobs. The only thing the health care bill will have grown is government.

Sally C. Pipes is President and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is “The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care”.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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