Getting Real With Obamacare

ObamacareCongressfolk are evidently struggling with Obamacare, delaying their legislation while hiding it from sight. Obviously, they see themselves in a no-win situation. We can see reasons for this:

First, existing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid funding already depended upon borrowing before Obamacare added some 13 million newly entitled beneficiaries. The related Medicare cuts and added taxes have been insufficient to fully fund the new coverage; insurance premiums have been shooting upward while some insurers have withdrawn coverage. Obamacare is financially unsustainable. Politicians must raise taxes, reduce coverage or both. Total repeal is out of the question; too many newly entitled voters would be annoyed. Whatever is done, the Democrats will claim that the GOP is depriving the needy.  The Democrats crafted this trap and the Republicans elected themselves into it.

Second, Obamacare is no insurance program, though it uses insurers for administration. The government mandates coverage, including preexisting conditions. It sets amounts it will pay providers, leaving the insurers only patient premiums as controllable income, with no control of risk assumed. It is said that this was done by the Democrats to drive out insurers, leaving government as the single payer, i.e. “socialized medicine.” If so, it is working.  Logically enough, insurers are demanding changes likely to annoy the insured and the Democrats; patient advocates demand changes unacceptable to insurers. There must be winners and losers; clearly best arrived at in a back room until done.

Third, this comparatively small Obamacare problem of billions of dollars proceeds against the background of perennial, preexisting deficits. If there is insufficient money to fund earlier programs already in place, from whence will come the resources to fund any version of Obamacare? We are waiting for someone in charge to bring that one into our public discourse.

We cannot know, but we surmise that all those in charge, Trumpian or Anti-Trumpian, will leave that question to be publicly addressed only after the next financial crash has restored a vestige of reality.

About Jack Curtis

Suspicious of government, doubtful of economics, fond of figure skating (but the off-ice part, not so much) Couple of degrees in government, a few medals in figure skating; just reading and suspicion for economics ...
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