I’ve been collecting these stories for a few weeks, but with the release of yet another batch of ObamaCare waivers, the time has finally come to tie them all together and publish them.
Back in 1993, when P. J. O’Roarke famously remarked that we would be shocked at the cost of health care once the government made it “free”, I was telling my friends that if HillaryCare ever became law we would never see another balanced budget in our lifetimes.
I think I was pretty much on the money.
For starters, the CLASS (Community Living Assistance Service Support) Act, a payroll deduction savings program administered by HHS and designed to encourage working Americans to begin saving for the cost of skilled nursing and assisted living care, has just been officially declared “unsustainable.” The program has been controversial since its unveiling last March (after the law was sgined by the President, of course) because it encourages workers to start saving in 2011, but doesn’t start paying benefits until five years later. Critics said that the program would burn through the 5 year accumulation of premiums quickly, then would be insolvent perhaps as early as 2021.
During a Senate Finance Committee hearing last month, HSS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius confirmed the critics’ suspicions by stating that the CLASS program, as currently laid out in the law, is “totally unsustainable,” adding, “we very much share the concerns that have been expressed that, as
written into law, the framework of the program was not sustainable.” Government officials are right to be worried, because drastically increasing the monthly deductions, which would be the simplest way to put the program back on track, would likely discourage a significant number of people from participating.
Then last week, during an appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, Secretary Sibelius admitted that the Obama Administration’s much-vaunted “$500 billion in Medicaid cuts” that was supposed to significantly reduce deficit spending over the next ten years, had in fact been double counted as both continuing funding for Medicaid, and as funding for ObamaCare services designed to supplant those that were scheduled to be phased out from Medicaid. Actually this had already been discovered last summer by the CBO, which released a memo that read in part,
“[The funds] cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the
same time, pay for current spending on other parts of the legislation
or on other programs … To describe the full amount of HI trust fund
savings as both improving the government’s ability to pay future
Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings.”
And last month, in testimony before the House Budget Committee, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf admitted that the burdens imposed on employers by the ObamaCare law would result in a net reduction of 800,000 American jobs over the next ten years:
Rep. [John] Campbell: Thank you,
Mr. Chairman, we’ll — and Dr. Elmendorf — and we’ll continue this
conversation right now. First on health care, before I get to — before I
get to broader issues, you just mentioned that you believe — or that
in your estimate, that the health care law would reduce the labor used
in the economy by about 1/2 of 1 percent, given that, I believe you say,
there’s 160 million full-time people working in ’20-’21. That means
that, in your estimation, the health care law would reduce employment by
800,000 in ’20-’21. Is that correct?
Director Elmendorf: Yes. The way I
would put it is that we do estimate, as you said, that…employment
will be about 160 million by the end of the decade. Half a percent of
that is 800,000.
Finally, as my collegue Rick pointed out in the previous post, the Obama Administration has just approved another 126 waivers for incorporated entities (businesses and labor union locals) effectively suspending their participation in mandatory health insurance coverage requirements, thus bring the total number of waivers to 1040. The Administration has also given waivers to four entire states — Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, and Tennessee — that will allow insurers in those states to continue to offer health insurance plans that do not meet the new ObamaCare minimum coverage requirements.
And to top it all off, state governments could be collectively facing $60 billion to $120 billion in additional cost outlays over the next decade, as the ObamaCare-mandated expansions of state medicare services start to kick in.
It’s pretty clear that the term “money pit” is a pretty generous way to describe this legislative debacle. Even if you support the idea of government-mandated health care services (and I have many friends who do) you should be livid over the outright lies and manipulations used by the Administration to hoodwink the American people into believing that the program would be cost effective and solvent, even to the point of reducing overall federal spending.
I’ve often complained about the fact that, so far, the Obama Administration has failed to prosecute a single banking or finance executive responsible for the outright fraud that precipitated the stock market, home mortgage, and insurance industry meltdowns in 2008. Maybe we’ve just figured out the answer — it’s hard to prosecute someone for a speck in their eye when you’ve got an Enron-sized plank in your own.