By Charles H. PletscherBio
On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) into law.1 Designed to integrate ninety-two individual provisions gradually, ObamaCare will complete its overhaul of the health care industry in 2018.2 Assuming ObamaCare remains unaltered, however, the transformation into a universal health care system will be complete by 2014.3 By implementing a universal health care system aimed at reforming the private health care insurance market, ObamaCare closely mimics the Clinton administration’s 1993 health care overhaul proposal (“Hillarycare”).4 As Hillarycare gained national attention, “all the elements of the conservative coalition, from the anti-taxers to the social conservatives, mobilized against the Clinton health plan and against the Clintons personally, while liberals were ambivalent and Democrats in Congress were divided,”5 which eventually led to bill’s demise. Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) warned the Clinton administration that the implementation of a universal health care system was “an unprecedented federal action” and advised against doing so.6 With the same advice from the CBO, the Obama administration decided to roll the dice and press on with its agenda.
With the health care industry still in desperate need of reform, the Obama administration jumped at the opportunity to advance its massive health care proposal. Unlike Hillarycare, President Obama’s health care reform proposal benefited from Democratic control over both houses, the collapse of America’s economy and financial markets, and one less impeachment. In true partisan fashion, ObamaCare passed the Senate by a vote of 60–39, with all Democrats (and Independents) voting for, and all Republicans voting against, the bill. Likewise, the House passed by a vote of 219–212, with all 178 Republicans voting against the bill. Another discrepancy between the parties arises with the calculations of the long-term costs and revenues associated with ObamaCare. When introduced, the Obama administration estimated an increase in spending of over $900 billion, yielding a deficit reduction of $143 billion.7 In rebuttal, Republicans calculated an increase in spending of $2.6 trillion, yielding a deficit increase of $700 billion.8
With that said, it is no surprise that just a few short months after ObamaCare’s passing, the newly Republican-controlled House initiated repeal of ObamaCare. Known as the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act (Repeal Act),9 Republicans allege that “independent analyses have determined that the health care law will cause significant job losses (650,000) for the economy.”10 Like most political-party assertions, ample evidence suggests that this figure is heavily skewed.11 As expected, the democratic-controlled Senate trumped repeal efforts by killing the bill; according to the CBO, continued efforts to repeal ObamaCare would cost the nation over $200 billion.12 Moreover, because of Democratic control in the Senate and President Obama’s veto power,13 repeal attempts are futile.14 Instead, Republicans are taking to the courts to challenge ObamaCare’s validity and defunding as many ObamaCare-related programs as possible.15 Also challenging ObamaCare’s constitutional soundness are twenty-eight states, all of which are involved in ongoing litigation over the matter.
As a final note, before the implementation of ObamaCare, over fifty million Americans were uninsured while premiums for family health coverage increased over eighty-seven percent, which is four times faster than general inflation and wages.16 By 2018, if ObamaCare survives, every American, excluding those exempted for various reasons, will have health insurance coverage.17 Of course, affordable and accessible health care for everyone would be ideal, but ObamaCare’s definition of “accessible” may be unconstitutional. Stretching “accessible” into mandatory, ObamaCare requires the uninsured to purchase coverage while simultaneously forcing insurance providers to extend coverage to practically everyone. In the end, while health care coverage should become more accessible, forced coverage under section 1501 of ObamaCare unconstitutionally deprives individuals the freedom of choosing which interstate markets to enter.18 If ObamaCare is upheld, Congressional deference will reach all-time highs, while individual freedom and liberties will suffer to all-time lows.