By Jennifer Popik, JD, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics
Last week, the House of Representatives voted for the 37th time to repeal all or part of the Obama Health Care Law. While all House Republicans and two Democrats supported the measure, the Senate, controlled by the Democrats, is unlikely to allow a vote to repeal the law.
Despite the fact that the Obama Health Care Law was passed over three years ago, and that its most attractive provisions such as keeping adult children on insurance have been in effect, the law remains unpopular. In fact, some of the most aggressive early supporters of the law are turning on it now that major implementations are drawing near. In a May 21st piece titled, Unions break ranks on ObamaCare, The Hill writes,
Months after the president’s reelection, a variety of unions are publicly balking at how the administration plans to implement the landmark law. They warn that unless there are changes, the results could be catastrophic. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) — a 1.3 million-member labor group that twice endorsed Obama for president — is very worried about how the reform law will affect its members’ healthcare plans. Last month, the president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers released a statement calling “for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.” UNITE HERE, a prominent hotel workers’ union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are also pushing for changes.
Another of the law major proponents, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) in a recent hearing told Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius that implementation of the Obama Health Law could become a “train wreck” if the education efforts were not improved.
It is against this growing chorus of worry that one of the major provisions is set to start this fall–the state Exchanges.
Since January, the HHS has been gearing up in a multi-phase effort to roll out state exchanges. The exchanges are designed to be marketplaces through which individuals and employees of small businesses and, later, employees of large employers could choose their health insurance plan for the next year. Originally, state-based “exchanges” were designed to allow comparison shopping among all insurance plans that provided basic benefits.
Instead, there is now grave concern that consumers may only choose plans offered by insurers who do not allow their customers to spend what state bureaucrats deem an “excessive or unjustified” amount for their health insurance. Documentation for this can be found here www.nrlc.org/HealthCareRationing/LifeatRisk112012.pdf
IMPACT OF GOVERNMENT PRICE CONTROLS ON LIFESAVING MEDICAL TREATMENTS
When the government limits what can be charged for health insurance, it restricts what people are allowed to pay for medical treatment. While everyone would prefer to pay less – or nothing – for health care (or anything else), government price controls prevent access to lifesaving medical treatment that costs more to supply than the prices set by the government.
Every state will have a state exchange. They can set one up and run it or run one along with the Federal government, or otherwise the Federal government will set up one for them. Fewer than half of states had indicated they would be setting up their exchanges by the December 2012, deadline, although they would not be prohibited from setting one up at a later date. This means that the Federal government will totally or partially run a majority of state exchanges – and control rules regulating what plans get to participate.
Enrollment for certain groups is set to start this October. As part of this phase, the Administration has a plan to wage a multimillion dollar public relations pitch to advertise the coming health insurance exchanges. When responding to congressional scrutiny as to why the law has not been better publicized, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Marilyn Tavenner wrote, “This phase will include a major launch effort that will engage all media channels.”
It is important to continue to talk about the many dangers of the Obama Health Care law, particularly as they begin to roll out. Now and once this media campaign starts, it is important to warn others about the dangers these health care exchanges pose in restricting what Americans can spend to save their own lives and the lives of their families.
Note: the abortion related provisions dealing with the state exchanges can be found here: www.nrlc.org/AHC/index.html