Is there a silver lining to the ObamaCare blues?


“Humanity is just nasty and there is no silver lining.”

That is Jennifer Lawrence’s haunting description in “Silver Linings Playbook” of what people look like when their choices are taken away.

Sound familiar?

{mosads}The nightly news shows have been filled with dire reports from state after state about the ObamaCare exchanges’ exploding premiums. The result is that so many relying on what was once promised as “affordable” insurance are now forced to choose between their family’s health and rapidly diminishing disposable income.

It is depressing.

The country officially has the ObamaCare Blues.

This comes at a time when we’ve become an undeniably depressed people. Today, 11 percent of the American population regularly takes an antidepressant. The amount has increased by 400 percent in recent years.

With ObamaCare’s limited coverage choices, patients can’t afford their therapy co-pays, and many therapists aren’t covered on certain healthcare plans.

What is our playbook out of this?

While repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with a market-based healthcare system that actually works is the long-term antidote, a more immediate remedy is desperately needed.

At this very minute, five different bills are pending on the floor of the House, all driven by the same goal: repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act.

During this presidential election, we’ve heard a lot about getting rid of the “lines around the states.” Folks, the “lines” are the McCarran-Ferguson Act. It is a law from the 1940s that allowed the business of insurance to be exempt from federal antitrust laws. When introducing bill H.R. 494 to repeal the act, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said “there is no reason in law, policy or logic for the insurance industry to have a special exemption.”

Repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act would have immediate benefits, as it would allow individuals to shop for their healthcare insurance across state lines. This is what is meant when politicians propose taking down the insurance “lines” around the states.

Currently, insurance providers can only sell insurance in the states they are licensed in. If we allowed carriers to market their offerings across state lines, we would open up competition and allow more companies to bid for your family’s business, effectively driving down insurance costs immediately.

Without this competition, we are allowing the largest insurers to simply expand and consolidate their market share, choking off all other coverage options.

Like everything else, the ObamaCare drafters messed this up, too. Under ObamaCare, insurance carriers can offer multistate products only if they meet all the federal regulations in place.

Namely, the carrier must operate in all 50 states on the ObamaCare exchanges. The only company that currently comes close to this standard is Blue Cross Blue Shield.

That’s right, only one company is allowed to market to customers across state lines.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is already a target of antitrust lawsuits, accused of acting as an “illegal cartel” by “conspiring to divvy up markets and avoid competing against one another, [and] driving up customers’ prices.”

Joe Cortelli, a national health insurance expert and CEO of Health Insurance Geeks, nails the issue:

“Blue Cross Blue Shield companies are organized monopolies that create artificially high health insurance premiums by keeping competition out. Health systems and hospitals love them because they pay more; governments love them because they make plenty of lobbyist contributions.

However, customers shouldn’t like them because they are paying the artificially high premiums due to this lack of competition.”

And it is not just insurance experts. Just ask our doctors. Dr. Kevin R. Campbell, a renowned cardiologist, president of K-Roc Consulting and a nationally recognized television contributor, understands why we are so depressed:

“The current state of insurance in the U.S. is shameful. Now that more major players such as Aetna, United, and Humana have dropped out of the ACA, we have, in effect created monopolies. This results in higher prices, less choice, and frustration for both doctors and patients.

If we allow competition, insurers will actually have to compete for patients and will actually have to provide quality service. Ultimately, I can then spend more time taking care of my patients and less time on the phone arguing with insurance companies on behalf of potentially lifesaving treatments.”

In “Silver Linings Playbook,” Robert De Niro pleads with Bradley Cooper: “You gotta pay attention to signs. When life reaches out with a moment like this, it’s a sin if you don’t reach back.”

The signs pointing toward a cure out of our national ObamaCare depression are there. Whoever wins the election today should have one universally agreed upon mandate: that ObamaCare doesn’t work. Either candidate can immediately move to repeal this old, antiquated law and bring the American people back to the negotiating table for their health insurance.

The bottom line: The moment is now to tear down the lines.

Americans need an ObamaCare silver lining.

Rotella is founder and managing shareholder of the Rotella Legal Group. He previously worked for two Ohio governors and has advised presidential campaigns on healthcare issues.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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