Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

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This paper investigates the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, and whether it should be overturned and replaced. It is now widely accepted that the PPACA had no patient safety and was not available to everyone but those who signed up for the highly subsidized program’s free coverage at the cost of others who were forced to pay for the program. In fact, the program has failed to deliver on any of its promises and has also run up trillions of dollars in taxpayer debt which will, in all likelihood, take the U.S. taxpayer decades to repay. Obamacare also, as Jeffrey H. Anderson (2015) noted, “eats away at the private insurance market on which it relies.” Even though Republicans in Congress have tried several times to “kill” the program, it lives on because it has grown from just being Obamacare to being the standard-bearer for the entire entitlement program of the Democratic party. In this capacity, the only solution is to repeal and replace it which the newly Republican-controlled Congress is currently working on doing.

The Affordable Care Act Should Be Repealed

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, (PPACA) the official name by which Affordable Care Act is known, or Obamacare as it has come to be known, started life as a campaign promise by then Senator Barack H. Obama (D-IL) during the 2008 Presidential Campaign. The plan was characterized by Obama during the campaign as “the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history” (“Affordable Care Act History”, n.d.). However, it would turn out that Obamacare was not the “middle-class tax cut” that Obama promised, but a deficit-busting measure whose operating costs ran into the trillions of dollars. As if to allay fears that might or might not have been real, the wording of the Act included the phrase; “nothing in this act or anywhere in the bill forces anyone to change the insurance they have, period” (“Affordable Care Act History”, n.d.), an assertion that turned out to not be true. The Affordable Care Act should be repealed because it has failed to meet its mandates of significantly expanding health insurance coverage, while reducing costs and increasing the quality of the care provided, as illustrated by private insurance companies withdrawing from healthcare exchanges limiting coverage options for enrollees, rapidly rising costs for coverage, premiums and deductibles, and costs for the Act spiraling into the trillions of dollars where it was originally supposed to reduce deficit spending.

One of the first reasons why Obamacare should be repealed is that it has failed to meet its mandate of reducing costs. It has been pointed out correctly that the U.S. “spends far more on healthcare than any other country, whether measured as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) or by expenditure per capita (Tanner, 2012). However, that is not always a bad thing because increased spending usually means increased quality of care. The rift comes when the increased spending does not improve the quality of the care provided. Tanner notes that since the introduction of Obamacare the costs for healthcare have generally slowed, however, Tanner also points out that during that time the economic recovery has also been at very low levels (4). He goes on to state that “Once the economy begins to recover, the rapid escalation of health care costs is expected to resume, and at a faster rate than would have been the case in the absence of PPACA” (Tanner, 2012). There are also several funding options in Obamacare that allows it to be funded to “such sums as may be necessary” (Tanner, 2012) which is a real recipe for fiscal disaster in government. Basically, the rules that govern Obamacare’s funding are a “blank check” with regards to future expenditures which will seriously balloon the federal budget deficit if not put to a stop by repealing it. One final nail in the coffin of the cost reduction promised by Obamacare is a 2012 report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that states “PPACA will cost $1.76 trillion by 2022” (as cited in Tanner, 2012, p. 4).

Jeffrey H. Anderson (2015), a writer for the Weekly Standard, pointed out another reason why Obamacare should be repealed when he wrote on December 15, 2015, “Obamacare has an incurable preexisting condition: it eats away at the private insurance market on which it relies” (8) and continued to note “The [private insurance] market cannot survive Obamacare’s hubristic mandates, and Obamacare cannot survive the collapse of that [private insurance] market” (8). The weight with which Obamacare currently presses down on the private insurance market can be likened to the weight of an elephant stepping on an ant. Anderson also rightly pointed out that the challenge for Republicans in Congress is not going to be repealing Obamacare, the challenge will come in finding a way to “rescue private insurance” in the wake of Obamacare (8).

During its existence, Obamacare has faced many challenges by members of Congress who have tried to “kill” it by defunding or otherwise obstructing the flow of monies into the Act. However, the Act defies all attempts to euthanize it because, as Daniel Henninger (2013) pointed out, “ObamaCare is no longer just ObamaCare” and “This thing called ‘ObamaCare’ carries on its back all the justifications, hopes, and dreams of the entitlement state.” Henninger (2013) further stated that if Obamacare were to collapse under its own weight without any help from the Republican party “the entitlement state will suffer a historic loss of credibility with the American people” and that it would “finally be vulnerable to challenge and fundamental change.”

Despite the above reasons, there is one group which is defending Obamacare for what seems to be the wrong reasons, the African-American community. Obamacare, cited by many African-American supporters as something that the Obama administration had “done for them,” is failing to provide them with quality healthcare that it has promised from its very inception. Per William Reed (2016), “Ironically, African-Americans are less likely than other racial groups to see benefits under Obamacare” because they live in states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage which leaves them, as he points out, “stuck in an eligibility gap where they make too little to afford coverage but too much to qualify for Medicaid.” It is also ironic that African-Americans suffer from many of the preexisting conditions that would have been fully covered under Obamacare if they had been able to obtain coverage under expanded Medicaid services.

The media has even gotten in on the “Save Obamacare” act. Not too long after Donald Trump won the election in November 2016 and the Republicans in Congress had a real chance of replacing Obamacare, stories starting appearing in media outlets such as CNN that ran an Op-Ed entitled “ObamaCare Saved my Life. What Now?” (Merline, 2017). And Salon ran a story called “ObamaCare Saved My Dad’s Life, and then He Voted for Donald Trump” (Merline, 2017). These stories all tell basically the same tale. Because of Obamacare, I got insurance, and it saved my life. Merline (2017) further noted that “The stories are meant to build support for keeping ObamaCare in place now that Republicans have the chance to repeal it. Get rid of ObamaCare and people will perish, is the implicit message.” Now, were all these people saved simply because Obamacare rode in on a white horse to save them? One would suppose as Merline (2017) noted: “You can’t spend a trillion dollars subsidizing insurance without helping someone.” What is lost in all these happy “Obamacare saved my life” stories is that the cost of doing so far outweighed the potential benefit to the healthcare system of the United States, which was one of the stated goals of the program from its inception.

The cost equation is one that is being lost on all the people who are now for keeping Obamacare and just putting a few band-aids on it. These costs which are measured in the trillions of dollars (that’s a 1 with 12 zeros behind it) and if left to its current mandate Obamacare could, in all reality, bankrupt the country in less than 10 years. The costs do not merely include the operating costs, they also mount up in the area of regulations that were levied on the healthcare industry (Merline, 2017). Then there’s the drag on the economy that has been created. According to Merline (2017), the American Action Forum (AAF) took a look at what Obamacare has done for the economy and its findings were dismal. “What the AAF found is that ObamaCare has killed about 300,000 jobs at small businesses, resulted in $19 billion in lost wages, and forced more than 10,000 small businesses to close their doors” (Merline, 2017). If you are saying to yourself “Well who in the heck is the AAF and why should I trust them?” then maybe the statement from the CBO that “repealing ObamaCare will accelerate economic growth” (Merline, 2017) will help to change your view? This means that Obamacare is a drag on the economy and it must be repealed and replaced.

In the midst of all this fiscal chaos, the insurance companies at the center of the Obamacare nightmare are the ones suffering devastating losses because of the mandates levied on them. The nation’s largest healthcare insurer, United-Healthcare is considering withdrawing from Obamacare exchanges in 2017 citing “heavy losses” and also that it “had made a bad decision” entering the exchanges to such a degree as they have (Anderson, 2015). For its part, Obamacare will continue, as Anderson (2015) puts it “to limp along, wounded and ailing, and dragging the insurers down with it.”

The PPACA, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, neither protects patients nor is affordable by any sense of the word. Its mandates and wholesale takeover of the American healthcare system caused those who were forced to buy into it to pay a heavy price. In just four years, the PPACA costs spiraled into the trillions of dollars causing rising premiums, limited coverage, and generally worsened the healthcare industry, the exact opposite of what it was supposed to accomplish. Obamacare was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010, just a little over one year after his inauguration. It had been signed, sealed and delivered to the American public over objections by the Republican party in both Houses of Congress and many others who protested the Act’s overreaching promises. Now, as the 7th anniversary of the Act’s birth draws near, a new administration and a Republican-controlled House and Senate have made a commitment to the American people to repeal and replace Obamacare as one of their top priorities. However, much like the birth, the death of Obamacare will no doubt be fraught with political wrangling and in-fighting. So, in the end, Obamacare sailed to easy passage and the American taxpayer will be mopping up the mess for decades to come.

References

Affordable Care Act History. Affordable Health California website. Retrieved from http://affordablehealthca.com/history-affordable-care-act/.

Anderson, J. H. (2015). The Downward Spiral. The Weekly Standard, 21, 8-9. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/docview/1748792685?accountid=8289.

Henninger, D. (2013). Wonderland: Let ObamaCare Collapse. Wall Street Journal Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/docview/1436352117?accountid=8289

Merline, J. (2017). Are those ‘ObamaCare Saved My Life’ Stories Legitimate? Investor’s Business Daily Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/docview/1859923252?accountid=8289.

Reed, W. (2016). Economics – Not Racism – Driving Obamacare Collapse. Washington Informer Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy2.apus.edu/docview/1818048142?accountid=8289.

Tanner, M. (2013). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: A Dissenting Opinion. Journal of Family & Economic Issues, 34(1), 3-15. doi:10.1007/s10834-013-9350-7

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