Repeal or not, California’s stuck with Obamacare
Even if Mitt Romney is elected president and gets rid of Obamacare, we might be stuck with some variation of it here in California. That’s what’s behind Gov. Jerry Brown this week calling a special session of the California Legislature to deal with health care in December or January.
The Sacramento Bee reported that, according to California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, the Brown administration “is waiting for guidelines from the federal government, delaying the state’s ability to act on legislation now. ‘We won’t get it right if we do it now,’ Dooley said.”
We don’t believe that Obamacare officially the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ever could be done right. But the attempt will be made should many of the Obamacare mandates and taxes go into effect in January. And by 2014, California is expecting to implement most of the legislation. According to a June study by the University of California, Berkeley, those without insurance in this state could drop to 10 percent from 16 percent of the population.
“A lot of things in California are locked in place even if Romney wins and Obama is replaced,” Sally Pipes told us. She Pacific Research Institute president and author of “The Pipes Plan: The Top 10 Ways to Dismantle and Replace Obamacare.” “California will be going ahead anyway. We keep hearing about bills to bring in single payer,” in which the state government would run a single insurance pool.
During his time in office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger twice vetoed single-payer bills passed by the Legislature. No one knows what quirky Gov. Brown after his support of the bullet-train “Browndoggle” might do on single-payer.
“Gov. Brown wants to ensure that, even if Romney wins, Obamacare will be in place in California,” Ms. Pipes said. “There would be a huge expansion in medical costs. The only way to pay for it would be taxes on those who already have insurance.”
Whatever Gov. Brown does will be conducted in the light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. The court found Obamacare constitutional as a “tax.” In California, that probably means a two-thirds vote of the state Legislature would be needed to pass significant reform; which makes the composition of the Assembly and state Senate crucial after the November election.
Currently, two Republicans in each house are needed to join with the majority Democrats to extract more taxes from the state’s bloodstream. If two more Democrats in each house or Republicans more amenable to taxes are elected, then it could be a vampire’s holiday. The court decision also affirmed that each state has great leeway in implementing Obamacare. So more Republican states, such as Virginia, Texas and Florida, could stymie much of Obamacare even should Mr. Obama be re-elected and his program implemented. “The states can’t be forced to expand,” Ms. Pipes said.
Conversely, she said, even should Obamacare be repealed, the states retain powers to expand government medical care. She pointed to Vermont, which in 2011 passed a single-payer law. However, the Vermont law doesn’t go into full effect until 2017.
As usual when government gets deeply involved in our lives, matters quickly become confusing and costly. The 2010 Obamacare law was 2,700 pages. Since then, 13,000 pages of regulations have been written.
California, under Gov. Brown, seems destined to make that plague of costly paperwork even worse.