June 24, 2010 | Factsheet on Health Care, Taxes, Federal Spending

Repealing Obamacare? Yes, We Can!

  • Fix Health Care PolicyRepeal Has Been DoneThe Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 (H.R. 2470): This act—which was enacted with huge bipartisan support in Congress—forced seniors to pay for a drug benefit that many of them did not want through a special tax on top of their premiums. It was repealed just one year after passage when details of the complex law came out during implementation.
  • Clintoncare of 1994: The 1,342-page Clinton plan was considered by the mainstream media and political pundits inevitable for enactment. The Clinton plan not only sought to ramp up centralized health care decision making in Washington; it was also billed as “paying for itself.” However, after the Congressional Budget Office reported that Clintoncare would add tens of billions of dollars to the federal deficit, the bill failed to get the congressional support it needed to pass the Senate.
  • Public Opinion Matters: Despite initial support, a majority of Americans found the two above health reform proposals to be unacceptable. Closer public scrutiny of the two bills caused popular support to plummet. In fact, congressional town hall meetings during the spring of 1994 took on a similar tone to those of August 2009. Without public support, policymakers have an increasingly difficult time pushing through or implementing comprehensive changes.

Why It’s Possible Now

  • Massive Disruption in Benefits: Historically, Americans like and want to keep the health care coverage they have. But the health insurance industry will be so altered with Obamacare that it’s unlikely any insurance plan will remain unaffected. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ actuary office estimate that 14 million Americans would lose or be transitioned out of their work-based plans. Additionally, seniors face huge benefit shakeups in their Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Cost More Than Bargained for: The government has a habitual problem of underestimating how much major health programs will cost taxpayers. The Medicare catastrophic program’s projected costs doubled within 12 months of passage, while Clintoncare—which the President promised would be fully paid for—was later projected to add tens of billions to the deficit. Obamacare is no different. The new health law, which was at first estimated to reduce the deficit, is now expected to cost upwards of $115 billion over 10 years.
  • Super-Sizing Bureaucracy: In the order of magnitude, Obamacare is beyond anything that has ever been attempted before. With its scores of new or expanded agencies, boards, commissions, panels, and programs, the new law gives birth to a regulatory regime that will involve reams of red tape for the coming years.

Applying Brakes on Obamacare

  • State Opposition: More than 20 states have already signed onto lawsuits challenging the federal government for overreaching its regulatory powers, particularly by creating an individual mandate. States are also pushing back on requirements to establish federally approved health insurance exchanges and to expand Medicaid eligibility. Meanwhile, legislators in 37 states have introduced or enacted resolutions to advance “health care freedom.”
  • Advancing Conservative Ideas: It’s not enough for conservatives in Congress to play defense. They need to be on the forefront pushing a health care agenda that would actually help millions of Americans. This can be done by fixing the glaring unfairness in the tax treatment of health insurance, promoting robust competition among insurance plans, and aggressively pursuing state-based solutions.

For more information, please visit: www.heritage.org

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