My last post discussed some of the reasons why President Obama’s so-called Affordable Health Care Act will not be affordable primarily because once implemented it will serve to sharply drive up the demand for medical products and services and consequently the price of health care.
But that unwelcome and unduly expensive consequence of the new law – all 2,700 pages of it -- is not the half of it. With the advent of Obama Care the federal and state governments will essentially be taking over from the free markets the job of implementing and running the entire health care system from insurance to hospital operations to the way that doctors practice medicine.
Indeed, federal and state officials are now turning their full attentions to implementation of the law -- a lengthy and massive undertaking still in its early stages, but already costing big money and greatly expanding the government.
The Health and Human Services Department "was given a billion dollars implementation money," Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana said. "That money is gone already on additional bureaucrats and IT programs, computerization for the implementation."
"Oh boy," Stan Dorn of the Urban Institute said. "HHS has a huge amount of work to do and the states do, too. There will be new health insurance marketplaces in every state in the country, places you can go online, compare health plans."
The IRS, Health and Human Services and many other agencies will now write thousands of pages of regulations -- an effort well under way: "There's already 13,000 pages of regulations, and they're not even done yet," Rehberg said.
"It's a delegation of extensive authority from Congress to the Department of Health and Human Services and a lot of boards and commissions and bureaus throughout the bureaucracy," Matt Spalding of the Heritage Foundation said. "We counted about 180 or so."
There has been much focus on the mandate that all Americans obtain health insurance, but analysts say that's just a small part of the law -- covering only a few pages out of the law's 2700. "The fact of the matter is the mandate is about two percent of the whole piece of the legislation," Spalding said. "It's a minor part."
The newly created insurance exchanges overseen by the government will administer $681 billion in subsidies over the next 10 years. Armies of new federal employees and agents will be added to the government payroll to fill positions in the HHS and IRS departments. "They are asking for several hundred new employees," Dorn said. "You have rules you need to write and you need lawyers, so there are lots of things you need to do when you are standing up a new enterprise."
The handwriting is on the wall and it’s not pretty. The federal government is about to assume massive new powers, including designing insurance plans, telling people where they can go for coverage and how much insurers are allowed to charge -- "Really, how doctors and hospitals are supposed to practice medicine," said James Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
So far the thousands of pages of new regulations have stirred up plenty of controversy and this is just the beginning. The requirement for all insurance plans to cover contraception is just one of many more examples to come. That one has the Catholic Church and other religious institutions hopping mad and ready to take their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
This has got to be the biggest government takeover and power grab since Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. It makes Social Security look like pocket change. It’s going to result in socialized medicine for all and the final costs will be astronomical. It will make a mess of the provision of health care in the United States of America.
And in the end, Obama Care and the Affordable Health Care Act will simply not be affordable.