Politics & Policy

Congress and Governors: Just Say No to Obamacare

(Scott Hales/Dreamstime)

The Supreme Court of the United States will soon decide the case of King v. Burwell. The legal question there is simple: Can the president wave his magic wand and rewrite Obamacare to mean whatever he wants it to mean? The correct answer is obviously no. The legal upshot is equally obvious: If King is correctly decided, the president will be barred from doling out Obamacare subsidies in Texas and the dozens of other states that refused to be lured into his eponymous welfare program.

The hard part is what comes next. Politicians from both sides of the aisle are lining up to rescue Obamacare from itself. These efforts are ironic, given that many of them won their offices by campaigning against the law — and yet now they sit ready in the driver’s seat of its getaway car. That irony is offensive because the would-be accomplices of the failed Obamacare law are asking governors to step in where federal policymakers have failed.

Today I am calling on my fellow governors across the country, and on members of Congress in Washington, to show some political spine and just say no to Obamacare. Now is not the time to throw Obamacare a lifeline — it is time to sound its death knell. Here’s why.

First, the time has come for Washington to stop breaking things and demanding that states fix them. Obamacare was born through politics of backroom deals and deceit. Remember the “Cornhusker Kickback,” “Gatorade,” the “Louisiana Purchase,” the “Senior Swindle,” and “Grubergate”? The Obama administration’s rollout was catastrophic. Remember the broken website, dysfunctional helplines, and incompetent “navigators”? 

And the results are so bad that only a politician in D.C. could love them. Folks who were happy with their doctors and wanted to keep them have been duped. The IRS is sending huge bills to Obamacare users who understated their income with the “help” of crooked “navigators.” Premiums are already higher than advertised — and rising. And after King, it will be clear that the President’s entire plan for giving away tax money was unlawful. It is far too late for the president and his congressional enablers to pretend that this is someone else’s problem.

Second, now is not the time to double down on the welfare state. Obamacare is built on the myth that health care can somehow be made more “affordable” by artificially inflating demand through the use of government subsidies and regulatory mandates. This defies basic tenets of economics and puts the lie to the misnomer “the Affordable Care Act.” No government welfare program has ever made anything more “affordable.” What Obamacare does do is over-subsidize more people to use more insurance to consume more health care, bankrupting our federal and state budgets along the way. 

No government welfare program has ever made anything more ‘affordable.’ What Obamacare does do is over-subsidize more people to use more insurance to consume more health care, bankrupting our federal and state budgets along the way.

Not only will Obamacare’s fiscal impacts be catastrophic, but there will also be disastrous consequences for health-care quality and access. As tens of millions of new people are dumped into an already broken system, wait times and delays will go up, the quality of care will go down, and the bill to the taxpayers will rise astronomically. Far from helping the middle class, Obamacare will be a millstone around its neck.

Third and finally, some leaders in other states will choose to buy into Obamacare anyway. Fourteen states already have created their own so-called Obamacare exchanges, and others will surely follow suit to ensure that the federal government will not end their supply of welfare payments. 

For leaders in those Obamacare states, know this: Under Obamacare, businesses pay penalties that are tied to subsidies doled out on state exchanges. It is well settled that this hardship has forced job losses. After King, in states such as Texas that refuse to buy into Obamacare, employers won’t face the job-killing Obamacare penalties. Over the past decade, Texas has provided a business-friendly shelter from job-killing policies in California and New York. Thousands of businesses have moved here in that time. I will proudly welcome more by doing everything I can to end Obamacare in Texas.

Of course, throwing off the yoke of Obamacare is only half of the battle. There is life — and health care— after Obamacare, even for those only now realizing the law’s false promises. The central feature to reforms that will make health care more accessible and affordable must be the maximization of individual autonomy.

Congress should minimize the role that businesses play in an individual’s health-care decisions, encourage open insurance markets that cross state lines, and incentivize Americans to utilize health savings accounts. Along with fewer federal mandates, Congress can empower patients to take control of their health-care decisions. These reforms will help stem the tide of the rising cost of health care. And they are the only sustainable approach to securing access to a quality health-care system for all Americans.


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