Patterson: On Obamacare/Medicaid, Arizonans need to look behind the curtain - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Patterson: On Obamacare/Medicaid, Arizonans need to look behind the curtain

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East Valley resident Tom Patterson (pattersontomc@cox.net) is a retired physician and former state senator.

Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013 9:58 am | Updated: 7:37 pm, Wed Apr 17, 2013.

Arizona legislators are under intense pressure to pass the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. They’re getting it from all sides.

“Do the math” the governor condescendingly demands, as if it takes special genius to figure out there is short-term gain in accepting these federal funds.

“It’s your Christian duty,” helpful ministers explain, apparently forgetting that Jesus preached personal compassion for the poor, not government lobbying.

Even the business community is on their case, claiming more Medicaid business will create jobs and stimulate the economy. Of course, if government spending really created net jobs, we would be awash in jobs because we have definitely tried massive spending in recent years.

The opponents of Medicaid expansion are commonly depicted as crazed ideologues blinkered by their opposition to Obamacare. After all, the creators of Obamacare were so frantic to get the states on board with the Medicaid piece that they agreed to provide near total funding initially for this nominally state-operated program. Even by 2012, they promise to provide 90 percent of the funds. Such a deal.

But Arizonans might be wise to look behind the curtain. As time rolls on, Obamacare is already defaulting on most of its key provisions.

For example, we were told that the average family would save $2500 annually on insurance premiums. It turns out the cost of health insurance will increase from $2100-$5000 yearly when Obamacare is fully implemented.

Obama himself promised that under his plan, “if you like your doctor, nothing will change”. Yet a recent poll from the consulting firm McKinsey estimated that more than 40 million people will lose their employer-provided insurance. So much for that whopper.

The president also told us that no American families with incomes under $250,000 would see a tax hike. But there are more than 20 new taxes in Obamacare. Many of them, like the tax on medical devices, a new tax on drugs, another tax on certain high-end health plans and reduced deductibility for medical expenses all fall squarely on the middle class.

There’s much more. We were told that Obamacare would cost “only” a trillion dollars over 10 years, that the costs would be partially offset by massive reductions in Medicare spending on the elderly, and that we would achieve virtually complete universal coverage. It’s all false, false, false. With a track record like that who could believe their next promise?

Gov. Brewer’s response is to create a “circuit-breaker”, a provision that calls for Arizona to revoke the benefits expansion if the federal funding falls below 80 percent. That sounds good and she is undoubtedly sincere. But she likely won’t be the governor when that day comes and whoever is will be under intense pressure to somehow maintain the program.

That’s the way the welfare state works, the “ratchet effect”. Whatever government provides, it’s never enough and the demands for more stuff never ceases. When benefits are granted, it’s nearly impossible to retract them.

So right here, in Arizona’s intense Medicaid debate, we see how Big Government rolls over and co-opts good people. It pulls the bait-and-switch, puts them in an untenable political position and forces them to support even this unpopular program that is certain to fail.

There is a growing recognition that Obamacare is an ugly hybrid, combining the worst aspects of government medicine and highly regulated private sector medical care. It was never intended by its advocates to be a permanent solution to America’s problems with affordability and access to care. Pres. Obama and others have candidly stated the real goal is a completely government controlled medical system.

That’s why it’s critical to stop Obamacare now and replace it rather than let it fail amid calls for a government takeover. We are going to end up either with medical care dictated by federal bureaucrats or one in which the power of free markets and patient choice prevail.

Real tort reform, price transparency, ability to buy insurance across state lines and many other possible reforms are out there, but we will never get them if the Obamacare train isn’t stopped.

Obmacare must have buy-in from the states to proceed. The stakes for the Legislature are enormous.

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