I & I Editorial
‘I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”
That was how then-President Barack Obama pitched Obamacare to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9, 2009. He described a health care system in crisis and promised that his reforms would “provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance for those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.”
Nearly a decade after having his vision realized, how have his promises worked out?
Based on polling data, Obamacare has been a miserable failure, and Obama will be far from the last president to grapple with this issue.
The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that health care is at the top of the nation’s priority list, with 24 percent of respondents listing it as their top priority for the federal government. Next on the list is immigration, at 18 percent, and after that, economic growth at 14 percent.
The poll also found that 42 percent list health care as either their first or second choice on the priority list.
Back in June 2008, when Obama was running for president, only 8 percent rated health care as a top priority, just 20 percent as their first or second priority. Of course, the economy was in a recession and the country at war with Iraq, both of which weighed heavily on the public’s mind at the time.
But even in earlier years when the economy was doing well, health care ranked far lower on the list of priorities than it does today. In June 2006, only 14 percent ranked it as No. 1 on their list. A year later, 15 percent said it was their top priority.
An ongoing Gallup survey finds that the public was actually more satisfied with their own coverage and quality of health care in 2007 than they were in 2018. Other surveys find cost remains a major complaint.
And just how much did taxpayers spend for these dismal results? Since Obamacare went into effect in 2014, it has cost taxpayers $586 billion in additional Medicaid spending and insurance subsidies. The government also spent billions building the Obamacare exchanges, and billions more on a failed government-subsidized health insurance co-op experiment. In addition, Obamacare added some $270 billion in additional overhead costs to comply with its 10,000 pages of regulations.
Over the next decade, Obamacare’s subsidies will cost $1.6 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
That’s a tremendous amount of money for health care reforms that have succeeded only in making the country more anxious about health care than they were before.
Of course, Obamacare failed to achieved most of Obama’s other promises.
It has done nothing to slow, much less reverse, the rising cost of health care. In fact, Obamacare itself caused premiums in the individual market to more than double in its first four years. For millions of those who aren’t eligible for Obamacare subsidies, health care has been priced out of reach. Obamacare plans carry not only high premiums but also huge deductibles, and most are heavily restricted HMO plans with extremely limited provider networks.
National health spending, which was 16.3 percent of GDP in 2008, is now 17.9 percent and is slated to hit 19.4 percent by 2027. Per-capita spending on healthcare jumped from $7,898 to $10,739 over those years.
Far from driving the deficit down, Obamacare is pushing federal red ink up. The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that repealing Obamacare would cut the deficit by some $473 billion in the first 10 years.
Naturally, because of these failures, the Democrats’ answer is to dump even more taxpayer money into government-run health care programs, with most now favoring a $32 trillion plan developed by socialist Bernie Sanders to have the government nationalize the entire health insurance industry.
Only in government, and only among fans of big government, are massive failures like Obamacare rewarded with still more government.
— Written by John Merline
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