Human Events Blog

The State of ObamaCare

 

Big Government’s most unhealthy program, ObamaCare, has been mutating and degenerating since the hour of its gruesome birth.  Thousands of pages of new regulations have erupted from its bloated, heaving body like tumors.  Waivers for politically connected unions and businesses have gushed from its open wounds.

The Administration realized that the slow bleed of ObamaCare waivers was killing it politically, as each new waiver release gave critics a new opportunity to write about how awful the program is, and how corrupt Obama’s government has become.  The solution, unveiled last week, is to quietly gather applications for new waivers until September, then issue a huge clump of them all at once.  This is supposed to spell the end of the waiver program, although since every other aspect of ObamaCare has been shrouded in obfuscation and secrecy, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Administration didn’t find some way to continue offering a little relief to its very special friends.

The end of the waiver program is not a victory to be savored.  It’s just more proof that political control of the economy is an unmitigated disaster.  If these hundreds of waivers were a good idea before now, why do they suddenly stop being a good idea in September?  Administration flacks have been dispatched to insist this is “absolutely not a political decision,” but they can offer no alternative explanation. 

Of course it’s political, just like all the special deals cut to purchase the votes for ObamaCare’s passage in the first place.  This was never a brilliantly designed solution to health insurance problems.  The objective was to grab power.  The ability to dispense special exceptions is another form of power, and that’s why it will return, in one form or another.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports on the latest ObamaCare regulation tumor: an ocean of new rules designed to encourage doctors from different specialties to band together into “Affordable Care Organizations.”  The current lack of coordination between doctors is partially a result of Medicare’s neurotic system of price controls.  Naturally, a new tidal wave of regulations that will force doctors to work together is the ideal Big Government fix.

The American Medical Group Association had a look at these new rules, and pronounced them “overly prescriptive, operationally burdensome, and the incentives are too difficult to achieve.”  The Journal calls the new rules “a classic of top-down micromanagement,” including 429 pages of clinical measures, penalties, bonuses, and obfuscation designed to keep participating doctors from cherry-picking their patients.  Instead of competition producing efficiency, as in Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare reforms, the Obama approach blindfolds both doctors and patients, so bureaucrats can herd then around with sticks.

93% of the American Medical Group Association membership said it was not interested in enrolling in the voluntary pilot program… which will eventually become mandatory, if ObamaCare’s maze-building regulatory goblins have their way.

The Journal mentions the way “regulatory uncertainty is inhibiting the investments and long-term practice decisions required” for doctors to come up with innovative and efficient solutions, which makes them just like every other terrified business trapped in the Obama recession.  No rational investor accepts the risk and hard work of forming a new business – especially one as complex and expensive as a large, multi-specialty medical practice – while a gigantic bureaucracy is grinding out gigantic stacks of regulatory paperwork, which can destroy entire industries on a political whim.  Few health care providers are reassured by the latest round of promises from the Obama Administration, which insists that everyone who doesn’t receive a waiver will just love the latest round of brilliant reforms they’re cooking up behind closed doors.

Liberty is still suffering from a degenerative disorder, and every treatment proposed by Obama and his legislative surgeons involves more rules, regulations, and penalties, which means less and less freedom.

 

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