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Nagging Regulations and Costs - Obamacare On Its Third Anniversary

Obamacare turned three years old last week and the old nag is already showing signs it needs to be sent off to the glue factory. Even though the law is causing rapid and shocking price increases, the Obama administration is riding at a gallop to implement their plans, even if it means breaking the Obamacare law itself to do it.

Buyer, beware!As Jeff Reynolds reported, FreedomWorks hosted a conference call with several House physicians, who weren't just horsing about wanting to repeal the law. 

Despite the claims made to sell the law, proponents should have looked it in the mouth a little more. As Americans are saddled with more and more regulations, the price tag continues to rise, especially for the young and healthy, who may quickly turn on those who traded away their health care freedom.

A key component of Obamacare is the exchange, a tightly regulated insurance market. The law says states can create their own, or the federal government will create one for them.

Cato director of health policy Michael Cannon and Case Western Reserve University professor Jonathan Adler have analyzed the law and found  that the mandates and subsidies apply only to state-operated exchanges, and that there’s no authorization for funding in the law for a federal exchange. 

Rep Andy Harris (R-MD) said, "The HHS Secretary claims to have interpreted that as that it will allow it, and it may take a court challenge to understand. The plain reading of it is to me that if it’s not a state-run exchange, it’s not funded, but again HHS chooses to interpret it differently and so we’ll forge ahead with these federally funded exchanges that in the end may find that you can run the exchange but you can’t subsidized anyone getting insurance from it."

Rep Phil Roe (R-TN) noted, "I wrote the IRS commissioner, along with [Tennessee Congressman] Scott DesJarlais and specifically pointed out what Andy just said. What he said was there’s no language in the bill that you can get a subsidy as he stated. The IRS commissioner stated they’re basically just going to ignore the law. Unless you wrote it in the law, you can’t do that. It will definitely be challenged, or I think it’s going to be challenged I think in the courts."

The lawmakers thought it could be made a point of emphasis in the CR.

“I was astonished at what the IRS commissioner said," Roe added, "when I wrote this letter to him. I don’t know whether it was inadvertent, or whether they thought it would force states, because the states with exchanges would get the money, subsidy, that they would opt to do it.  And many states like Tennessee opted not to. So as far as I can see it won’t be available unless they just break the law.”

Repealing the law will not be easy. According to Rep Paul Gosar, M.D. (R-AZ):  

Politically, it will take the vast majority of Americans who oppose Obamacare to elect members to Congress who will reflect their views. Then we need to elect a President who opposes Obamacare and believes in free-market reforms.

Legislatively, it will require Congress respecting the Constitution and believing once again in the power of free markets.  Congress must make a patient centered and patient friendly healthcare system not a government dictated, government tax a priority in reform.   Congress should look at allowing insurance to be bought across state lines, consider tort reform, and make all medical expenses tax deductible.  

Phil Gingrey, MD (R-GA) noted that insurance prices are going to go up dramatically.

Media reports indicate Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius  called the reports of higher costs "speculative," even though insurance companies are saying what they are going to charge because of Obamacare.  Sebelius refers to a "fully insured product," but she really means the absurd requirments for one-size-fits-all coverage, especially for young, relatively healthy people. 

 "These folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time, so there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market," Sebelius said.

Direct repeal efforts, as any high school civics student knows, would require a pro-repeal Congress and a pro-repeal President. But what about in the mean time? Can House Republicans force votes at leverage such as Continuing Resolutions or debt ceiling increases? Repeal opponents seem to want increases in government spending quite strongly, so can repeal advocates condition those on repeal of least on some part of Obamacare?

Rep Gingrey said, "As you know, there was an amendment proposed for the CR on the House side that would include full repeal of Obamacare. That amendment, unfortunately, was not made in order. There were a number of us, I don’t know how many of the physicians, but certainly a number of members in the Republican conference, that felt very strongly that that should be in there."

Repeal proponents should continue, "[A]t every opportunity, and every choke point, to put that in there, full repeal," Gingrey said.

"But I will add this real quickly," added Gingrey. "I have been asked in the past, there are maybe a few, a handful of members in the Republican conference who don’t want to chip away at some of the more egregious aspects, sections like Phil Roe’s bill to repeal the IPAB, get rid of the CLASS Act, or several other things that were just absolutely horrible, don’t do that because you don’t want to make the rest of it palatable."

"Well, look," said Gingrey, "we’ve now got our Supreme Court decision. Obama is reelected for the next four years. I think we ought to go 'Full Monty' at chipping away at each and every one of the worst aspects of the [law], and weaken it and weaken it and weaken it until it’s a three-legged stool with one wobbly leg left, and maybe it will take a Republican President and a Republican House and Senate to finally get rid of that last leg of the stool, but that’s the way I would approach it."

Dr. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) pinpointed the cause as the obstructionists in the Senate. "The fortitude has been there in the House. The problem is in the do-nothing Senate. The point is leadership comes with a cost, of bringing up things that are going to fail, and this is poignantly failing. And I think that what we need to see is the Senate take leadership and that would be Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, and acknowledge the failure of this plan, and bring it up for a discussion. I find it offensive, at least from my perspective, that the Senate won’t even take up the issue."