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An Obamacare Plan B

4:15 PM, Jun 21, 2012 • By NOEMIE EMERY
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Among those hardest hit are young people and families, who may not earn much and need no more than bare-bones and high-deductible policies, and people on Medicare, whose payments will be cut so dramatically that many hospitals will be unable to take them, and some doctors will refuse to see them at all. Along with Medicare patients, and the budgets of millions of middle-class families, this act also lays waste to research and development, father of all the innovations that save and improve our lives.

“To pay for the bill, Congress would levy a $2 billion annual tax on the medical device industry, which ardently opposes the legislation,” writes the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger. Add to all this paperwork, new regulations, and the prospect of rationing, and it is not surprising that many doctors may be near suicidal, or, if not this, at least somewhat depressed. A study released in January 2011, found that 78 percent of the 2,958 physicians queried said that “the impact of the law would be negative,” that they were “anxious about the future .  .  . concerned for their practices and their patients,” and that “sixty-five percent said that they expect the quality of health care in America to deteriorate over the next five years.”

And bad as this is, it is just the beginning of what this ill-conceived act has in store. In its effect, it might have been called the Anti-Job Growth, Stagnation Inducing, Recession Extending Act of 2010, for it now sits like a stone on the chest of the country, preventing it not only from moving, but from getting up off its back. “Job creation came to a screeching halt at the time Obama Care was enacted,” Grace Marie Turner informs us. “The low point of the recession came in January 2009, when U.S. employers shed 841,000 jobs,” but the economy began to recover, the high point coming in the April 2010 report, when 229,000 jobs were added. Then the Democrats passed their dream legislation, and the national nightmare began. “In the following months, the economy added an average of just 6,500 jobs per month (net of layoffs)—less than a tenth the pre-Obamacare average .  .  . good reason to believe that the health law is a major contributor to the hiring halt.”

How did this happen? First, the uncertainty of being able to figure how much a new hire will cost, because of the new regulations, and the fact that the coverage has to meet federal standards, which are certain to be more substantial. Turner quotes Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, saying, “We’ve frequently heard strong comments to the effect of, ‘My company won’t hire a single additional worker until we know what health insurance costs are going to be.’ ” Second, the fact that most of these regulations apply to companies which employ 50 or more employees is a powerful incentive to owners to keep companies small, to not expand, and to replace workers where possible with automation. These are the jobs often filled by the poor, by the unskilled, and by young people seeking experience, precisely the people who need to be hired, and for whom liberal hearts bleed so dramatically. “The administration is making it harder than ever for unskilled workers to get started,” Diana Furchgott-Roth has informed us. “Low wage and part-time jobs will start to go, not in 2014, but now.” If we want help them get started, and help the country revive, we will kill this bill before 2014 arrives: January 20, 2013, when a new administration takes over, is the time to do what the Court didn’t do.

And if bad medicine and unemployment don’t really get to you, how about a new and ramped up culture war? As in the case of un-and-underemployment, this is another consequence that was not broadcast when the act was passed, the fruit of liberals’ impulse to meddle in everything; this time their mandate that religious employers include coverage for contraception and/or abortion in all of the health plans on offer in their institutions and schools. Pitting the feminists, the most loyal and fervent interest groups of the Democrats, against their sworn enemies, religious conservatives, this mandate has the effect of conflating the right to buy something from someone with the right to buy it from any and everyone; akin to telling a kosher deli that it has to sell pork rinds, though pork rinds are for sale at neighboring markets, only a short walk away. 

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