Skip to comments.Obamacare’s Hidden Costs - Democrats have unleashed a tidal wave of unintended consequences.
Posted on 05/17/2010 12:06:39 PM PDT by neverdem
While the full cost of President Obamas health-care legislation wont be apparent until federal subsidies to the uninsured start flowing in 2014, Americans are getting an early glimpse of some of the unintendedbut very costlyconsequences of rushing through a 2,400-page bill affecting 17 percent of the economy. Since the president signed the bill into law on March 23, dozens of companies have reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission the losses that they expect to take as a result of the legislation. (Companies that offer drug benefits to their retirees will now be taxed for the partial federal subsidy that they receive for each retiree.) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that as many as 40 major companies will take a hit, for a total of $3.4 billion; other cost estimates run even higher.
After the firms made headlines with these reports, the White House and Democratic members of Congress slammed them for exaggerating the tax changes effect. Congressmen Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak even demanded that four of the companiesAT&T, Deere & Company, Caterpillar, and Verizonturn over all documents relating to the financial impact of health-care reform, along with an explanation of their accounting methods. In late April, though, Democratic staffers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee vindicated the firms, saying that they acted properly and in accordance with accounting standards. The independent Financial Accounting Standards Board confirmed this interpretation, as did the American Academy of Actuaries.
Heres the irony. When Democrats removed the tax exemption for the subsidy, they claimed to be striking a blow against corporate welfare. What they ignored, however, was that the subsidy was actually a previous Congresss attempt to protect taxpayers. In creating the Medicare Part D drug benefit in 2003, Congress added the subsidywhich amounted to about 28 percent of the cost of coverageto encourage companies that already offered drug benefits to retirees to keep paying those benefits, rather than dumping them onto taxpayers. By taxing the subsidy, Democrats are effectively encouraging companies to scrap the benefit entirely and ask Uncle Sam to foot the bill.
The same corporate documents turned over to Congress also show that companies may be thinking about more than retiree drug benefits. They may, for example, be considering dropping employee health coverage and sending workers directly into the health exchanges provided under the new law. According to Fortune, a report that Hewitt Resources, an HR consulting firm, prepared for AT&T notes that even though the proposed assessments . . . are materialthat is, even though firms that choose not to provide health insurance will be finedthese assessments are modest when compared to the average cost of health care. . . . Employers may consider exiting the health care market and send employees to the Exchanges. The same Fortune article suggests that if 50 percent of people covered by company plans get dumped, federal health care costs will rise by $160 billion in 2016, in addition to the $93 billion in subsidies already forecast by the CBO.
Companies already expect that Obamacare will increase health-care costs as 32 million uninsured people enter the health-care system and drive up prices, new regulations add to the cost of insurance premiums, and new taxes levied on drugs, medical devices, and health insurance get passed along to employers.
Still more costs are likely to ripple out from the legislation over the next few years. Democrats have set aside just $5 billion to fund new high-risk pools for the chronically ill and uninsured until the exchanges are up and running in 2014; the chief actuary for Medicare recently estimated that the money would run out in 2011 or 2012, resulting in substantial premium increases to sustain the program. The CBO also recently nearly doubled its initial estimate of the legislations implementation costs, to $115 billion over ten years.
Another $5 billion fund set up to offset health-care expenses for early retirees may turn out to be the biggest fiscal problem in the legislationand eventually transform into a massive backdoor bailout for cash-strapped states. The fund is open to employees from both government and the private sector and is also set to expire in 2014though the actuary expects it, too, to run out before then. The Obama administration claims that this subsidy will keep private employers offering early retirees health-care benefits, but thats largely a smoke screen, since relatively few private-sector firms offer early retirement benefits. State and local governments, on the other hand, are hemorrhaging red ink for promises that theyve made to public-employee unions: a November 2009 GAO report estimated that states and localities had more than $530 billion in unfunded liabilities for post-employment benefits, primarily for retiree health care. States like New York and California will undoubtedly leap at the chance to offload their early retiree costs onto the feds, and public-employee unions will push hard to expand funding for the program and make it permanent. Democrats envision union retirees transferring into the exchanges in 2014, but its hard to imagine unions surrendering their gold-plated plans when someone else is picking up the tab.
Finally, Congress is likely to pass a bill repealing massive planned cuts for physicians payments under Medicare. Current law projects a 21 percent drop in reimbursements, starting on June 1. To secure the American Medical Associations support for health-care reform, Democrats promised to pass a doc fix rescinding those cuts. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that doing so would cost $276 billion over the next decade, nearly twice the savings that the CBO projected for Democrats health-care reforms over the same period.
In short, Obamacare is barely two months old, and the nation is already discovering what opponents of the legislation argued all along: that it will cost taxpayers far more than expected and send health-care spending into the stratosphere.
Paul Howard is director of the Manhattan Institutes Center for Medical Progress.
Can we just get a “do over”? They can say it was a practice vote...
The content is irrelevant! Obamacare on its face is unconstitutional since Article 1 Section 8 does not specifically grant Congress the power to regulate health care! People need to keep this in mind and remind their Congress critters the people are not bound to comply with any unconstitutional act!
“Unintended”? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
“...unleashed a tidal wave of unintended consequences.”
How can we be sure that they were ‘unintended’?
IT’S VERY INTENDED.
Think William Goldman regrets inventing that brilliant line yet? :>
It’s “unintended” as far as the idiot democrats who pushed this stupid plan on all of us...
They weren’t unintended. They are getting just what they planned.
when carter was in office
i never thought this could be true, but as ridiculous as your statement is, it is hard to believe that even rats are this dumb.
It's not just brilliant, it's practically Yogi Berra.
You see, at first I just thought they were the world's biggest idiots as well. But then the dems just kept piling one idiot thing upon another. It got to the point where I realized, no one is that stupid, not even democrats. But if the dems aren't acting out of idiocy then the only other available conclusion, no matter how extreme it may sound, is that they are attempting to crash the system.
I don't know if you're familiar with the Cloward and Piven strategy, but the efforts of the democrats match it quite well. Here's a snippet of the strategy...
First proposed in 1966 and named after Columbia University sociologists Richard Andrew Cloward and his wife Frances Fox Piven (today Piven is an honorary chair for the Democratic Socialists of America), the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" seeks to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse. source: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=7522
The best thing about Obamacare? His name attached to it forever and ever like a block of cement around the feet of a drowning man.
Bingo!! It;s INTENDED to crash the economy!! Cloward and Piven Strategy!!! It’s working!
I think they'll succeed. It's easier to destroy something than build something.
The way to beat the Obamunists is to "be there" when they succeed in crashing the economy. By that I mean, be prepared. They expect to take advantage of the chaos at the collapse to move into the power vacuum. Conservatives need to be prepared to block the fascists.
As with most things these fools get involved with...we may note that this was all so “UEXPECTED””
shal we try “UNEXPECTED” Mo?
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