McConnell op-ed: Down with Obamacare

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON – On the two-year anniversary of Obamacare, Republicans in Congress are more committed than ever to repealing this unconstitutional law and replacing it with commonsense reforms that put health care back in the hands of individuals and doctors, instead of bureaucrats in Washington.

President Obama was right when he argued upon taking office that the U.S. health-care system was in critical need of reform. Among other problems were the rising cost of health care to private and public payers, the exposure of too many families to potentially catastrophic health-care costs, and the lack of coverage for millions of Americans.

Yet rather than solving the most pressing problems in the old system, Obamacare has made many of these problems far worse. Costs and premiums are rising, Medicare has been weakened, states now struggle to keep pace with even costlier federal mandates, and the economy is being sapped as new mandates dissuade employers from creating new jobs.

For these reasons and others, those of us who fought against Obamacare’s passage look forward to making our case before the Supreme Court next week.

Americans continue to oppose Obamacare in large numbers. Indeed, a recent USA Today/Gallup poll showed that 72 percent of Americans, including most Democrats, believe that Obamacare’s core, a government mandate to buy health insurance, violates the Constitution. This, along with a growing list of unintended consequences, are reason enough to repeal it.

But nearly two years after passage, Americans continue to find more things to dislike. Far from curing a rise in health-care costs, Obamacare is now expected to increase health-care spending by more than a quarter of a trillion dollars, and federal health-care spending and subsidies by nearly $400 billion. Health-care premiums for American families are expected to skyrocket by $2,100 per year.

And the White House has now admitted what they refused to acknowledge when they forced Obamacare into law: A key component of their deficit-reduction claims, the CLASS Act, can’t possibly be implemented in a financially sustainable way. Now they tell us.

As for the law’s broader impact on the economy, here too the reality has proven far less appealing than the president’s rhetoric. Although the plan was sold as a cure-all for a broken health-care system, but as the foundation for a stronger economy, we now know that Obamacare has been one of the single biggest drags on job creation since early 2010.

According to the director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare means 800,000 fewer jobs over the next decade. One recent private-sector analysis concluded that the president’s health-care law is “arguably the biggest impediment to hiring, particularly hiring of less skilled workers”

States face their own challenges. Many couldn’t afford federal health-care mandates before Obamacare mandated dramatic increases in Medicaid rolls — and the costs to pay for it. Needless to say, even if states are able to meet the costs of covering as many as 25 million more Medicaid patients, the quality of the care for those who rely on Medicaid would almost certainly suffer.

The president may be able to boast that more people have coverage. But states, which will have to shoulder the costs, won’t be applauding.

Nor will America’s seniors, millions of whom now know from bitter experience that the president wasn’t speaking to them when he vowed that, under Obamacare, “if you like the plan you have you can keep it.” Since then, millions who have and like Medicare Advantage have learned it won’t necessarily be there for them anymore.

Seniors have also heard one of the administration’s own top Medicare analysts predict that one in six hospitals that honor Medicare could be in the red as a result of the new law, potentially jeopardizing Medicare recipients’ access to care.

Time and again, the president and his allies have arrogantly presumed that a public that has largely opposed Obamacare from the start would either come to like it or forget about it over time. Their hopes never materialized.

Why? Because most Americans understood from the start that the president’s claims about this plan simply weren’t credible. Chief among them was his insistence that it wouldn’t add a dime to the deficit. Americans aren’t stupid. They know that a government entitlement is about as likely to pay for itself as, well, a government entitlement.

Indeed, the more he repeated his promises the more skeptical Americans became. Months after then-speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s now-famous claim that Congress would have to pass Obamacare in order for Americans to find out what was in it, voters registered their own verdict on the bill in one of the biggest wave elections in U.S. history. As if there were any doubt about this, a recent academic study put it to rest by concluding that Obamacare was the primary reason for the drubbing.

And for good reason. President Obama was right to attempt a reform. But Obamacare has turned out to be even worse than many of us predicted, and the unintended consequences and hidden surprises keep coming. Two years after its passage, Americans have made their views on Obamacare perfectly clear. They don’t like it, they believe it’s unconstitutional, and they want it repealed. Let’s clear the way and start over.

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