The Corner

Repeal It All

The Obama administration has finally admitted that its health-care law places a tremendous burden on America’s job creators. In the wake of its decision to delay the law’s “employer mandate,” it is also clear how bad the law will be for anyone trying to make a living in this country.

A recent article in the New York Times put a human face on the victims of Obamacare by looking at a small Maryland restaurant called Shanty Grille. It made the case as well as any actuarial study or economic model ever could.

The article detailed how the law was hurting everyone from the owner to the uninsured waiter to the insured chef. For each of these people, and millions of others like them across the country, the reality of health care reform has fallen far short of the president’s promises.

According to the Times article, the restaurant’s owner is on pace to finally turn a profit this year. It would be his first since the economic downturn. If he has to provide Washington-approved insurance for every employee, though, that profit would quickly evaporate. For their part, his young workers have not asked for the coverage. They would rather have more money in their paychecks to spend how they want, not how the president thinks they should. And the insured employees are worried that they won’t be able to keep their current coverage.

Stopping this disastrous employer mandate was the right decision. The undeniable truth is, a one-year delay in the policy doesn’t solve the problem, it only extends it. Shanty Grille and many other businesses cannot expand or hire more staff, because they still face the mandate in 2015. Many other businesses are cutting back workers to part-time status because of the health care law. President Obama has nothing to say to those Americans looking for full-time work.

The law still requires all of the employees, like nearly everyone else in America, to buy pricey health insurance starting January 1. Many will end up in the government-run insurance exchanges. These may or may not be ready in time.

We’ve seen ample evidence that even if these exchanges are operational, premiums will be much higher than before the mandate. That’s especially true for young, healthy adults, whom the president expects to pay more so that older, sicker people can pay less.

These weren’t the kinds of reforms Democrats promised when they were forcing their plan through Congress. Republicans made suggestions to improve the health-care law, but we were shut out of the back rooms where Democrats struck their deals.

In the end, the law was drafted so badly that negative side effects and unintended consequences were inevitable. The Times article shows how some of these effects are devastating the lives of millions of Americans, not just those at Shanty Grille.

President Obama likes to hold photo ops with people whom he says the law helps. It’s time for him to meet with people like the ones featured on the front page of the New York Times.

It’s time for the president to sit down with both Democrats and Republicans to really talk about how we can reform health care in this country.

There are many ways we can truly reform America’s health-care system to make it better for everybody. I believe the first step starts with full repeal of the president’s law. Delaying the employer mandate for one year does not eliminate the burdens of this costly legislation.

I hope President Obama’s latest move is a sign he’s willing to consider some other ideas as well. When the American people called for health-care reform, they wanted Washington to focus on reducing costs and making insurance coverage more affordable. It’s time to replace this law with legislation that lets Americans get the care they need, from a doctor they choose, at a lower cost.

— John Barrasso, M.D., is a United States senator from Wyoming and chairman of Senate Republican Policy Committee.

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