Real Reforms Are Possible Upon Obamacare Repeal

Published February 22, 2012

On March 23, 2010, President Obama forever altered the American health care system by signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law.

Its advocates promised the measure would reinvent the nation’s health care and reinvigorate the economy. As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) put it, “This bill is not only about the health security of America, it’s about jobs. In its life it will create 4 million jobs, 400,000 jobs almost immediately.”

Boy, were they wrong.

It’s becoming more apparent with each passing day that Obamacare will devastate the nation’s health care and our citizens’ health, while further damaging our country’s fragile finances. The PPACA is expected to cost in excess of $2.5 trillion over the decade beginning in 2014 because of the expansion of Medicaid, federal tax subsidies, the hiring of 16,000 new IRS agents, and the bans on lifetime and annual coverage caps and on discrimination based on preexisting conditions.

Sweeping Nationalization of Health Care

Implementing the law has been extremely challenging. It’s tough to completely remake our health care system overnight. After all, it already accounts for one-sixth of the U.S. economy, about $2.5 trillion—and in July 2011 authors from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported in the journal Health Affairs that by 2020, national health care spending will rise to $4.6 trillion, one-fifth of the U.S. economy.

Certain provisions of the president’s reform plan kicked in immediately. But many of Obamacare’s main provisions and cost drivers do not take effect until 2014. As of mid-July 2011, there are more than 9,000 pages of rules and Federal Register notices related to Obamacare.

Consequently, there is still time to reverse course. Congress can repeal Obamacare and replace it with market-based reforms that actually expand access to coverage, provide quality care, and reduce the cost of health care.

The Need for Repeal

My new book, The Pipes Plan: The Top Ten Ways to Dismantle Obamacare (Regnery, 2012) provides a blueprint and a roadmap for accomplishing that mission. It examines ten key components of Obamacare and shows why each one doesn’t work, how to eliminate it, and what reform to put in its place.

Since the day the president signed the Affordable Care Act into law, a clear majority of American voters—reaching as high as 63 percent— has favored its repeal. Prior to Obamacare’s passage, Nancy Pelosi famously stated Congress would “have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” The American people have found out what is actually in the law—and they’re not pleased.

The clock is ticking: our health care system—and our nation’s fragile economy—are under imminent threat from the president’s poorly conceived attempt at reform. Let’s now see how our leaders can go about repealing and replacing Obamacare with a law that actually does provide “affordable, accessible, quality care” for all Americans.

How Do We Replace?

President Obama sold his health care law to the public as an effective way to bend the health care cost curve down and eliminate the ranks of the uninsured. It won’t achieve either goal. Since the law passed, evidence has poured in proving the PPACA is actually accelerating the growth in the cost of medical care, and that it will not solve the problem of uninsured Americans.

The solution I propose: Stop the madness, repeal the legislation, and replace it with a plan that delivers affordable, accessible, quality care for all. Start by implementing reforms that increase both patient autonomy and competition among insurers and providers.

Obamacare doesn’t address the fundamental reasons health care costs are skyrocketing and insurance coverage is out of reach for many. Trying to cut costs and expand coverage by government decree will fail—in fact, the evidence of the law’s failure to achieve these goals is already mounting. Free market competition and putting more control in patients’ own hands is the way to increase coverage and lower costs.

Unleash the Marketplace

Reforming the tax code to grant individuals the same tax advantages that businesses currently enjoy when buying health insurance would do wonders to stimulate competition. So would permitting people to purchase insurance across state lines. And market-friendly tools such as health savings accounts, health reimbursement accounts, flexible spending accounts, high-deductible health plans, and vouchers for seniors, the working poor, and the chronically uninsured would both expand coverage and lower costs.

President Obama has violated the promises he made in the run-up to the passage of his health care reform law. The evidence shows Obamacare will not stop escalating health costs or expand coverage—and will actually exacerbate many of the problems plaguing our health system.

The nation can continue with the government-heavy approach typified by Obamacare, creating new bureaucracies, instituting draconian price controls, and imposing top-down restrictions on insurance plans. Or we can repeal this gargantuan, costly mess, and institute reforms that stoke competitive forces in the health care marketplace and empower patients to purchase coverage that suits their specific medical and financial needs.

Sally Pipes ([email protected]) is the president of the Pacific Research Institute and the author most recently of The Pipes Plan: The Top Ten Ways to Dismantle Obamacare ($8.99 Regnery 2012).