| Opinion/The Review

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

It's 'I told you so" time for ObamaCare

Email Newsletters

Sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

By Jonah Goldberg
Saturday, March 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

“What we've learned through the course of this program is that this is really not a sensible way for the health care system to be run.”

That was Gary Cohen, director of the Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. He was talking about the apparently surprising need to halt enrollments in a program designed as a temporary bridge for people with pre-existing conditions who couldn't wait to be covered by ObamaCare when it fully kicks in next year. The program was allocated $5 billion but some estimate it would take $40 billion to fund the effort.

Such surprises are becoming routine. The New York Times has reported that many small and midsize firms might be opting out of ObamaCare entirely. “The new health care law created powerful incentives for smaller employers to self-insure,” Deborah J. Chollet of Mathematica Policy Research told the paper. “This trend could destabilize small-group insurance markets and erode protections provided by the Affordable Care Act.”

It turns out that ObamaCare actually makes self-insurance less of a gamble because you can always throw workers on public exchanges without penalty. Naturally, the administration's response is to look for ways to tighten the ratchet and make self-insurance harder. It's a typical response. The shortcomings of a wildly ambitious law only justify more regulatory strong-arming.

As Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center notes, The New York Times never paused to ask why it's OK that “a design flaw in the law somehow empowers” regulators to punish private employers. But this is typical of so much press coverage of ObamaCare; it's a given that it is the government's job to make sure the law is seen as successful, no matter what.

Although it's true that we collectively spent a lot of time shouting about ObamaCare, we spent precious little time actually debating it. Most of the media covered the discussion as if it were a spectator sport, with the Democrats the hometown favorite. And much of the remainder seemed to assume that health care reporting amounted to explaining why ObamaCare was a good idea. The facade of objectivity was often maintained by citing carefully crafted CBO projections that reflected political assumptions. Garbage in, garbage out.

Reality is teaching the propeller-heads a lesson. Despite President Obama's promise that his plan would not add “one dime” to the deficit, the Government Accountability Office announced last week that it would more likely add 62,000,000,000,000 dimes (or $6.2 trillion) over 75 years.

Obama also promised that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” Estimates for how many Americans will lose their existing plans vary. The CBO says 5 million to 20 million. The consulting firm McKinsey & Co. says about 30 percent of employers will push workers onto the public system.

And while the president rode to re-election hyping a mythical GOP “war on women,” incentives to drop spouses from employee coverage under his plan will only increase, a particular concern for mothers with small kids.

The good news is that if they keep their coverage, it will cover birth control pills.

Jonah Goldberg, editor at large of National Review Online, is the author of “The Tyranny of Clichés.”

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Unsung backups provide boost for Steelers defensive line
  2. Penguins lose hard-fought game to Blue Jackets in overtime
  3. Former Pirates pitcher Happ agrees to $36 million, 3-year deal with Blue Jays
  4. Starkey: Flashback Friday for Pitt
  5. Pitt falls flat in finale loss to Miami
  6. Unabashed church pastors put politics front and center
  7. Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
  8. Contractor eyes early finish to work on New Stanton interchange of Interstate 70
  9. Run game needed for balance vs. Seahawks
  10. Police: 3 killed, 9 wounded in attack at Colorado Planned Parenthood
  11. Gilbert, son of ex-Pitt football standout, commits to Panthers