Human Events Blog

Texas says no to ObamaCare

As David Harsanyi reported in HUMAN EVENTS this morning, a number of Republican governors have been exploring their options for resisting ObamaCare.  Texas Governor Rick Perry issued one of the strongest statements yet on Monday.  “If anyone was in doubt,” Perry declared, “we in Texas have no intention to implement so-called state exchanges or to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.”

“I will not be party to socializing healthcare and bankrupting my state in direct contradiction to our Constitution and our founding principles of limited government,” Perry continued, as reported by the Houston Chronicle.  “I stand proudly with the growing chorus of governors who reject the Obamacare power grab. Neither a “state” exchange nor the expansion of Medicaid under this program would result in better ‘patient protection’ or in more ‘affordable care.’  They would only make Texas a mere appendage of the federal government when it comes to health care.”

Perry sent a fiery letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in which he noted that the Supreme Court decision upholding ObamaCare also removed the Medicaid “gun to the head” that had been leveled at state governments.  This was one of several ways in which Chief Justice John Roberts helpfully re-wrote ObamaCare on the fly, to keep it kinda-sorta close-enough-for-government-work constitutional.

Perry asked Sebelius to relay a message to the President: “I oppose both the expansion of Medicaid as provided in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the creation of a so-called ‘state’ insurance exchange, because both represent brazen intrusions into the sovereignty of our state.”

The Texas governor went on to note that ObamaCare “does not truly allow states to create and operate their own exchanges.”  Instead, the federal government “has the final say as to which insurance plans can operate in a so-called ‘state’ exchange, what benefits those plans must provide, and what price controls and cost limits will apply.”  A great many federal rules remain to be penciled in.

The result is a massive federal apparatus treating state governments like “subcontractors, through which the federal government can control the insurance markets and pursue federal priorities rather than those of the individual states.”  This would enlarge a “broken” Medicaid system that is “already financially unsustainable,” not to mention inflexible and inefficient.  It also drops billions of dollars in cost upon state governments, many of which are already perched on the edge of insolvency.

Perry wants no part of it, vowing to Sebelius that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s “unsound encroachments will find no foothold here.”  He described himself as proud to “stand with the growing chorus of governors who reject the PPACA power grab,” adding “Thank God and our nation’s founders that we have the right to do so.”

He might also give some thanks to the army of back-room deal makers and ideologically blinded mice that wrote the gigantic PPACA, because they created the concept of state insurance exchanges, which ObamaCare is entirely dependent upon… but did not make them mandatory, or provide any real incentive for state governments to create them voluntarily.

As Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute noted recently, the state exchanges are essential to implementing ObamaCare, both financially and legislatively.  Without those exchanges up and running, punitive tax penalties against employers cannot be applied, the odious mandates that violate religious freedom are nullified, and the pipeline for funneling federal subsidy money to insurance companies is broken.

The federal government cannot afford to create its own exchanges – a big part of hiding the true cost of ObamaCare from the public involved quietly shifting millions of dollars in annual maintenance costs onto state governments.  Massive new federal taxes, combined with more out-of-control deficit spending, will be necessary if the states decide not to play the role Obama had in mind for them.  And if the feds try to perform an end-run around the state exchanges, they’ll find themselves facing fresh court challenges, from both private companies and state governments.

There’s a good chance the gubernatorial revolt boiling out of numerous states – including Florida, Louisiana, and now Texas – will collapse ObamaCare completely, by highlighting the critical flaws in modern history’s worst-written bill.

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