By Judd Gregg - 03/24/14 06:00 AM EDT
It has been interesting to watch President Obama eviscerate his own healthcare program in order to protect members of his party from the rightful wrath of Americans who are seeing their health insurance and healthcare dismantled.
The cynicism of these actions highlights the belief this administration holds that you can ignore one of the cardinal rules of governance laid down by Abraham Lincoln: that you cannot fool all the people all the time. The president and his people obviously think you can do exactly that.
We now know, assuming current estimates are correct, that by the end of this month fewer than 9 million people will have allegedly signed up for ObamaCare. I say “allegedly” because the Department of Health refuses to tell anyone how many of the people they claim have signed up have actually paid a premium — which, of course, is the test of whether one is really a participant in the program.
We also know that of those who have allegedly signed up, less than 25 percent come from the uninsured category.
Remember that the primary purpose offered to justify ObamaCare was that it would “give” healthcare coverage to the 44 million people who were estimated not to have coverage when it passed.
But based upon current estimates, by the time the sign-up period ends at the end of March, fewer than 2 million people who were uninsured will be enrolled. This is an abysmal result no matter how it is spun by the Democrats who voted for ObamaCare.
The entire healthcare system of the United States has been turned upside down at tremendous cost both in dollars and personal angst about lost coverage. Yet the result has not been any meaningful progress at all toward the original goal.
In New Hampshire alone, it is estimated that more then 20,000 people have been told by their insurance company or their employer that they will no longer be covered. This is a disaster for them, but still we hear from our Democratic congressional delegation and the president’s people that their misfortune is tolerable.
This is just the start of the massive inequities and dislocations that ObamaCare is creating for Americans trying to make ends meet.
For example, the Medicaid expansion that is essentially being forced down the throat of New Hampshire with the assistance of the state’s Democratic leadership is guaranteed to dramatically increase the burden on the state in the years to come.
For the first few years the federal government will assist in its costs, maybe even giving the state a bit of an income bonus with federal dollars. But soon, in the third and fourth years and beyond, the state will have to pick up more and more of these costs and the burden will fall on the New Hampshire taxpayer.
This is nothing more than a blatant attempt to force New Hampshire and its citizens into resorting to some form of a broad-based tax, like an income tax, in order to pick up costs that have been mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
Such a tax, and the expansion of government that comes with it, have been the holy grail of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire for decades. Its leaders have always wanted to back New Hampshire taxpayers into a corner through excessive spending that forces the institution of an income tax to fund their political largesse. Now ObamaCare is going to allow them to cross this finish line.
This is not a story unique to New Hampshire. Every state will face these types of choices as the cost of Obama-Care falls in their lap in the future.
All in all, it is becoming ever-clearer that the true purpose of ObamaCare was never to cover the uninsured. The purpose of ObamaCare was and is to put control of all major healthcare policy, not just Medicare and Medicaid, in the hands of the few and the elite in Washington.
A single payer system is what they want and it is what they will obtain, they believe, if they can just get past two more elections. Such a system inevitably leads to debilitating changes in how healthcare is delivered.
There are much better ways to deliver quality healthcare to a vast majority of Americans than turning it over to this administration.
The American people will see this administration’s manipulation of the time frame and substance of Obama-Care for what it is: a crass grab for political power.
Republicans need only to highlight the obvious. ObamaCare even by its own standards as set down by the president and his followers in Congress is an incredible failure.
The primary effort of Republicans now should be to outline the alternatives that will work, allowing people to find, keep and retain affordable insurance and participate in an innovative and high-quality healthcare system.
Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.