Friday, April 1, 2011

Gary Palmer: One year later, ObamaCare is still unpopular

  It has now been one year since Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and President Obama signed the new law. The American public still does not know what is in the new law, but what they do know is enough to make it just as unpopular now as when it passed.

  In the past 12 months, public opinion of "ObamaCare" has only changed slightly.  According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, only 37 percent of the American public support the takeover of the American health care system. This is down from 39 percent in March 2010. Survey results from Rasmussen found that 58 percent support repeal of the national health care law. As the American public becomes more informed about the costs and the limitations for patients, the call for repeal could be overwhelming.

  Much of the current opposition is driven by the individual mandate portion of the bill that requires every individual in the United States to have health insurance or face paying substantial fines. Declared unconstitutional by two federal judges, the individual mandate is particularly burdensome to millions of young people who often forego buying health care insurance because they see little need for it. The individual mandate will force younger people to buy health insurance and pay premiums that are estimated to increase up to 95 percent.

  Moreover, opposition by younger Americans will likely grow because of the job losses that result from the health care reform law. The unemployment rate for 20-to-24 year olds is already at more than 16 percent and Harvard's Institute of Politics reported that 84 percent of current university students fear they cannot get a job after graduation and half of recent graduates are worried they will be laid off.

  In his testimony before Congress, Doug Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), said that the new health care law will reduce employment by 800,000 jobs. This is the exact opposite of the 4 million new jobs Nancy Pelosi claimed would be created by ObamaCare.  Given that ObamaCare is expected to cost more than $2.3 trillion in ten years and impose $500 billion in new taxes, more jobs will most certainly be lost.

  Older Americans are concerned as well. ObamaCare includes $575 billion in cuts in Medicare over the next ten years even though 80 million baby boomers will become eligible for the program. With these cuts and an expanding demand, Medicare will be paying less than Medicaid. According to Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), "Medicare actuaries predict that because of the cuts in the Democrats' health care law, 725 hospitals, 2,353 nursing homes and 1,587 home-health agencies will become unprofitable."

  For those who have jobs and keep them, most will lose their current health insurance. President Obama promised American workers that if people liked their health care plan they could keep it, but the Obama Administration's own analysis shows that 70 percent of employers will have to change their health insurance plans in order to comply with the new law. The Medicare Trustees annual report predicted that 90 percent of retirees with prescription drug coverage will lose it. Also, The Wall Street Journal reported that 1.4 million restaurant and retail employees health care plans are at risk, under the provisions of ObamaCare.

  Finally, a recent report from former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin projects that the taxes on health insurance companies will cause health insurance premiums for families to increase by $5,000 when they take effect in three years. Even though Obama promised that his health care reform plan would lower premiums by $2,500 per family, what American families will get is higher taxes, higher health insurance premiums and fewer choices.

  The day after the Democrats passed ObamaCare, Howard Rich summed it up well when he wrote, "President Barack Obama and his Congressional allies are spending money that they know we don't have on a program that they know isn't going to work - all in an effort to expand government's control over the private sector and its reach into the private lives of American citizens."

  That is the perspective of most Americans and explains why, despite all efforts to build support among the American public, ObamaCare is just as unpopular one year later as it was the day it passed.

  About the author: Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

  This article was published by the Alabama Policy Institute.

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