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A friend visited the emergency room recently to treat a severe infection in his leg. His doctor was unavailable so he was advised to go the local emergency room to receive treatment. After waiting the requisite several hours, my friend was visited by a nurse who, upon looking at his electronic medical chart, asked about a prescription for eye drops that had been filled at a pharmacy outside the hospital earlier in the day. What makes this story interesting is that the prescribing physician was located in another state and unaffiliated with the treating hospital. My friend soon discovered that this nurse knew every prescription that my friend had filled whether from a local or online pharmacy including those prescribed by doctors located in other states not affiliated with the network of local doctors and hospitals. Welcome to Obamacare!
For those of you who are outraged that the NSA is creating digital dossiers on law abiding American citizens, this is exactly what Obamacare and electronic medical records are doing TODAY! According to the Department of Health and Human Services, mosts doctors offices and 80% of hospitals will employ electronic medical records by the end of the year. That is not surprising since they have received billions of dollars in incentive payments to deploy such systems. Despite the claimed benefits, in the age of Wikileaks, does the government need access to our most personal medical information in order for our health system to operate efficiently? Former CIA director David Petraeus resigned from office to avoid the threat of blackmail should an enemy possess compromising information about a personal relationship. Don’t such all encompassing record keeping systems invite similar potential for abuse if Senator X will do anything to keep information about a psychological disorder or other diseases confidential?
With the debate over defunding Obamacare in full bore, one wonders why it is so difficult for Republican senators and congressmen to explain the ills of Obamacare and the virtues of defunding it, especially since all claim to support the effort. After all, every GOP congressman save one voted to defund Obamacare last week. All GOP congressmen profess pride in their forty or so votes to repeal the law. Byron York reminds readers that twenty GOP senators co-sponsored an amendment that all GOP senators supported to defund Obamacare earlier this year. Yet, you do not hear a peep in opposition when it comes to discussing the dangers of continuing to fund the implementation of electronic medical records, or the potential for abuse inherent in giving community activists loyal to President Obama access to a federal data hub replete with your confidential financial information without subjecting these individuals to a criminal background check.
President Obama is fond of characterizing the GOP as the party of ‘No Thank You.’ Yet, when Congressman Peter King goes on CNN proclaiming hope that the defund effort fails in the U.S. Senate after voting to defund Obamacare himself only hours earlier, and anonymous GOP operatives send opposition research to Chris Wallace in advance of an interview with Senator Ted Cruz, can the GOP properly be characterized as doing everything possible to delay, defund and dismantle Obamacare?
The principle argument against defunding Obamacare seems to be a worry that President Obama will use the occasion to shut down the government blaming Republicans in the process. However, by capitulating to political pressure from President Obama, Republicans demonstrate that they are putting their perceived personal political interests ahead of the interests of the citizens they ostensibly represent. Record numbers of Americans rose up in 2010 to hand Republicans a landslide victory in the House of Representatives, principally in reaction to the passage of Obamacare. Many of those same voters stayed home two years later, largely because the nomination of Mitt Romney as the GOP presidential candidate, the only Republican to implement a health plan similar to Obamacare while governor, did not inspire a belief in voters that Republicans had the appetite to fully repeal Obamacare.
Republicans point to the last government shutdown as evidence that politics are against them. Yet, the former GOP House whip at the time, Tom DeLay, reminded listeners to the Mark Levin radio show that the opposite was true. In fact, DeLay argues that fighting Obamacare makes good political sense because most Americans oppose its implementation. Recent polls suggest most Americans do not understand Obamacare and precious few believe it will have a positive impact on their family.
The last point is not surprising since Obamacare is having a devastating effect on employment in America. Despite protestations from the White House, the Obamacare employer mandate is cannibalizing full-time employment resulting in record levels of part-time employment. The official unemployment rate has never dipped below 7.5% since Barack Obama took office in 2009, the longest stretch since 1948. The employment participation rate is at its lowest rate in decades and black unemployment is at a high of 13% under our first black president, far exceeding the rate under his white predecessors.
Every day, the news is replete with stories about how Obamacare is negatively impacting employment and health insurance coverage in America, the very problem it is ostensibly designed to fix. In the past week, IBM announced that it is shifting 100,000 retirees from private health insurance coverage to government health insurance exchanges. Walgreens announced that it is doing the same for over 100,000 current employees. Home Depot announced that it is dropping health insurance coverage for 20,000 part-time employees.
Even some of President Obama’s loudest union cheerleaders are fretting the implementation of Obamacare. 40,000 longshoremen quit the AFL-CIO recently over their support of Obamacare. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, one of President Obama’s loudest supporters, was forced to admit that Obamacare is having a negative impact on employment.
Hospitals across the country are laying off people as well, just as more and more Americans are qualifying for free health insurance. The world famous Cleveland Clinic and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee are laying off thousands in preparation for the implementation of Obamacare. Not only do these hospitals suffer from the pressures of other large businesses, but they are being squeezed by nearly one trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare under Obamacare.
Investors Business Daily is running a tally of over 300 large businesses, public and private, that have reduced employment or employee hours as a result of Obamacare. This helps explain why nearly two million Americans have signed a national petition to defund Obamacare at http://www.dontfundit.com/. Ironically, the petition passed the one million signature threshold on Labor Day earlier this month.
That is why Senator Ted Cruz has suggested it is time for the GOP to unite around the idea of defunding Obamacare. If ever there were an issue around which Americans are tired of playing partisan political games, this is it! Americans do not respect politicians who exempt themselves from the laws they pass. They are not prepared to stand for another ‘read my lips’ moment from the GOP.
Americans do not want a health insurance plan that The New York Times admits restricts their choice of doctors and hospitals. That is not what President Obama promised in 2009. Obamacare is causing premiums to skyrocket despite promises that they would fall. In fact, there is evidence Obamacare likely will cause cancer patients to die unnecessarily. This will happen while Obamacare pays subsidies to guest workers and foreign students and makes foreigners cheaper to hire than American citizens.
Republicans need to stand united in opposition to Obamacare as they did when the law was passed. Only by standing united and learning from mistakes in prior budget battles by not negotiating with themselves in public will Republicans force President Obama and Congressional Democrats to the negotiating table. Might there be a protracted battle where Republicans do not get everything they seek, sure. They will not get anywhere, however, unless they stand united in opposition and continue to make the case to the American people.
There is an old parable about two men fighting over a chicken bound at its feet. Both men claim ownership of the chicken and ask a rabbi to resolve their dispute. The rabbi suggests that the men untie the chicken’s feet and watch the chicken run to its rightful owner. The Republican Party needs to stand united, unbind the American people from the shackles of Obamacare and see which way we run. If they do, I have no doubt they will reap rewards in 2014 and beyond.