ObamaCare is on its deathbed — but Democrats are still scheming

ObamaCare is on its deathbed — but Democrats are still scheming
© Greg Nash

ObamaCare is dying a slow, painful death. Good riddance! It’s perhaps the single worst piece of health care legislation passed since Lyndon Johnson first instituted his not-so-great “Great Society” reforms a half-century ago.

The departure of dozens of health insurers from ObamaCare exchanges across the country has led to skyrocketing premiums and deductibles for those still unlucky enough to be trapped in those failing systems. An analysis by Health Pocket found the average ObamaCare Silver Plan—the benchmark ACA insurance plan — is now $477 for a 30-year-old, 31 percent higher than it was just one year ago. Sixty-year-olds must pay on average more than $1,100 every month for a Silver Plan.

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Deductibles are even more outrageous. In many cases, families are forced to pay more than $11,000 each year to satisfy their plan’s deductible requirement, rendering the health insurance virtually useless.

 

Unfortunately, Democrats have yet to accept the ObamaCare scheme’s demise. On May 30, New Jersey lawmakers passed legislation creating a state-based individual health care mandate. The move is part of Democrats’ last-ditch effort to preserve New Jersey’s struggling ObamaCare exchange. Under the law, those who fail to buy health insurance will be forced to pay a penalty amounting to 2.5 percent of their household income or $695 per adult (plus $347 per child), whichever is greater.

New Jersey is the first state to reinstate ObamaCare’s individual mandate since congressional Republicans gutted that provision in December as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (Only one other state, Massachusetts, has an individual mandate.)

New Jersey Democrats aren’t alone, either. Democrats in nine other states and the District of Columbia proposed legislation earlier this year that would usher in the return of the individual mandate, despite that provision’s low popularity and ObamaCare’s failure to provide Americans with reasonably priced health care.

To say Democrats are working to “save” ObamaCare on a national level might be too much, however. They’ve seen the writing on the wall and know ObamaCare’s days are numbered. This is precisely why they’re starting to lay the groundwork for their next big health care plan: a health insurance public option.

In April, Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Dems rip Trump after Putin news conference Dems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Sunday shows preview: Trump readies for meeting with Putin MORE (D-Conn.) and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Senate adds members to pro-NATO group Senate GOP poised to break record on Trump's court picks MORE (D-Ore.) introduced legislation that would give Americans enrolled in an ObamaCare plan the ability to switch into a newly created Medicare-for-some plan. According to a report by The Hill, employers would also be permitted to offer this option to their employees.

The Murphy-Merkley bill received support from numerous influential Democrats in Congress, including Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisDems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Rasmussen poll: Nearly three-quarters of Dems want 'fresh face' as nominee in 2020 Kamala Harris lands book deal MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Senate adds members to pro-NATO group Booker: Trump's national security officials face 'serious' choice after Putin summit MORE (D-N.J.) — two of the party’s rising stars. 

If the health insurance system isn’t fixed before liberals once again rise to power — whenever that might be — some version of the Murphy-Merkley plan is very likely to be the course the left will take to push the country further toward embracing a single-payer health insurance system, a longstanding dream of the left.

The public option is easy enough to sell: Health insurance is far too expensive and many people remain uninsured. Despite these problems, Americans are still generally wary of adopting a universal, government-run health insurance system. 

“Don’t you want to give the poor and disenfranchised a chance to purchase affordable health care?,” Democrats will inevitably say. “Why would any reasonable, compassionate, good-hearted person ever deny a family access to a cheaper health insurance option?”

You can also expect all sorts of promises declaring, “If you want to keep your private health insurance plan, you can! We’re not trying to eliminate private health insurance.”

Of course, eliminating the private market is exactly what they’ll be doing. How can a private health insurance company, which has employees and needs to earn a profit, compete with the government, which is able to function while running hundreds of billions of dollars in the red each year? It can’t, and the left is banking on it.

For those who believe the American public is too stupid to manage their own lives, a government-run health care system makes perfect sense. The good government shepherd must look after its dumb-as-a-rock herd of sheep, after all. And we sure as heck can’t have our precious lambs massacred by those greedy wolves — doctors and health insurance companies — right?

Our health insurance system has a huge amount of problems, but it also remains the global leader in most forms of health care. If you have cancer or need back surgery or to have a brain tumor removed, there’s no better place to live on Earth than the United States. And the reason that remains the case today is because despite all the absurd government regulations and industry cronyism, health care industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators still have a lot of freedom to invest in new ideas and earn a profit in the United States.

If we allow government to have greater control over the health care market, rationing and funding cuts will eventually follow, driving away the best and brightest health care providers, technology developers, and drug manufacturers, who will very likely leave for greener foreign pastures. This has already happened in Canada, the United Kingdom, and in many other countries where long wait times and subpar health care services have become the norm.

Those of us who support free markets and individual freedom need to start planning and strategizing now, not later, for the left’s impending push for a public option, because it’s not a battle we can afford to lose.

Millions of lives, quite literally, are depending on our success — whether they know it or not.

Justin Haskins is executive editor and a research fellow at The Heartland Institute, an Illinois-based nonprofit that advocates for limited government, and a research fellow at The Henry Dearborn Institute for Liberty, a free-market association of scholars.