2013 Symposium: Should The Congress Repeal Obamacare?

Cartwright:  Yes.  Obamacare should be repealed.  However, there are parts of the law that a lot of people like such as keeping kids on their parents insurance until they’re 26 and ensuring that insurers don’t turn you down because of a preexisting condition.  Let’s repeal Obamacare but keep parts of the law that people generally agree with when we craft something new.  What’s going to create downward pressure on healthcare costs if we do repeal Obamacare?  Competition and tort reform.  

North Carolina:  The call for repeal of Obamacare has been in the minds of federal and state legislators, medical professionals, insurance companies and everyday citizens since the Affordable Care Act’s rushed passage and its infamous “You have to pass it to know what’s in it” proclamation on Christmas Eve 2009.

Since the legislation became law, there has been widespread opposition, lawsuits and state legislation rendered to block it, defund it and repeal it. According to CNN’s latest poll, 62 percent of those surveyed opposed the law and only 35 percent were in favor of it.  Other results indicated that most Americans knew their medical insurance costs would increase significantly under the law. The UPI (United Press International) reported that opposition to Obamacare rose six percentage points among women from 54 percent in November to a December figure of 60 percent.

Repealing Obamacare is the only viable solution to eliminate the law’s prohibitive costs and destruction of already existing healthcare coverage.  Once the law is repealed, the recovery process can begin and other solutions can be further developed, enhanced and adopted.

Relief from this burdensome and frightening bill would be a welcomed blessing.  If repeal were to happen, solutions that would create downward pressure on healthcare costs would include:  Tort reform, selling insurance across state lines, tax deductions for the purchase of personal health care insurance, low-cost high deductible insurance policies (particularly for the young and healthy), personal savings accounts for healthcare, Medicaid overhauls at the state and federal level , physician based clinics with pay as you go graduated income allowances.

Orlando:  The Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare, has come under a great deal of fire, due in large part to significant lobbying and advertising from insurance companies who stand to see significantly lower profits because they are expected to provide coverage. The question of its desirability is made even more complex in the context of calls for its repeal. The ACA is not really one solution, but rather a combination of actions, all of which are designed to lower health care costs nation-wide. Before a discussion of the benefits of these components, a brief note on repeal to provide context.

In 2013, Congress narrowly avoided defaulting on its debts with a last-minute compromise solution to allow the treasury department to authorize debts the US had already made for another several months. In response, global financial investigators lowered the bond rating of the US, the Dow Jones dropped hundreds of points, and the economy took a significant back-slide. The cause was not the decision to extend the debt ceiling, but rather that the political process was so fundamentally broken that it took an 11th hour decree to do so. The ACA was passed in 2010, and parts of the bill have gone into effect over the last few months. This is not a whole lot of time for a federal initiative. Consider the New Deal programs, which took nearly a decade to make any impact on the economy, or the EPA, established by Richard Nixon, which took years to establish a meaningful regulatory protocol. Stability, more than anything else, is the best predictor of growth. Repealing the ACA four years after its passage would send a signal to investors that American politics is schizophrenic and unstable, and that they ought to bail immediately. Such a signal would do more to hurt the American economy, and faster, than anything in the ACA. In 5 years, if health care costs are more than 20% of GDP, then consider repeal.

The ACA itself, though, has many meaningful, necessary reforms. Insurance companies cannot deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions, which means that children born with leukemia can have insurance coverage, and their parents will no longer have to choose between groceries and life-saving medication for their children. Those same children can remain on their parents’ insurance until 25, allowing for young people to take chances with their careers, rather than needing to find work immediately to avoid coverage gaps. Insurance companies also must spend at least 80% of their premiums on care, which will provide for lower premiums and lower costs. This restriction will cut into the price inflation that has been going on for many years between hospitals and insurance companies, which will help to drive down the cost of health care.

These benefits come at a cost,  namely the individual mandate. Because insurance companies are required to insure a lot of sick and fairly expensive to cover individuals, the only way to ensure long-term survival of insurance companies, excepting a single-payer option, which would be the most efficient way to achieve all of these goals, was to require young, relatively healthy individuals to purchase insurance. This will help lower the costs of health care for two reasons. First, it will prevent people from getting really expensive medical care at a hospital which they are unable to pay for, which accounts for a significant portion of the increase in the cost of medical care. Second, insurance companies will have a more stable pool of insured people, which will make sure they can adequately predict costs

There’s a lot more the ACA does, like preventing discrimination in pricing based on age, gender, or race, ensuring access to contraceptives and gynecological health care for women, and setting up an insurance marketplace where people can quickly and easily, when the system is working, that is, compare private insurance companies, state insurance plans, and emergency insurance options. An honest discussion of the benefits and costs of these policies is made impossible, though, when the only options presented are “Obamacare is the best health care solution that will make everyone get free medicine forever,” or “Obamacare is a socialist takeover of health care that will replace your doctor with a government bureaucrat.”

Michigan:  I pretty much covered this through another question.  Should Obamacare be repealed?  Anybody got a better plan?

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