I am, like many of you, tired of this whole subject. It has been such a roller coaster ride since the law was signed into effect on March 23, 2010. As I am writing this article, the Supreme Court ruled that certain "closely held" for-profit businesses can cite religious objections in order to opt out of a requirement in ObamaCare to provide free contraceptive coverage for their employees. Also, 28 times this law has been changed or delayed, to accommodate either unhappy elements within the country or to avoid voter outrage at the polls in November. These changes have not come from Congress who make or change the laws of this land, including the Affordable Care Act, but by the President, who's only responsibility under our Constitution is to execute those laws to the best of his or her ability. No one is actually sure what the Affordable Care Act is any longer and if it will even be sustained by future Congresses or Presidents.
I was thinking of Obama Care the other day when the news media covered the numerous problems that exist with our Veterans Administration health care program. This is the only example of government run health care in the United States. My father and Uncle after participating in World War II used to say in the 1950s that the VA medical program is horrible; long waits and inadequate care. Not much has changed in those nearly 70 years that might lead us to believe that government can truly run our health care system. It isn't that the various governments during that time, both Democrat and Republican alike, haven't had the time or money to put together a class act program for our injured and retired military. If the government can't get it done for these folks, what makes anyone think that government can better manage the rest of the population with health care?
Here in Minnesota our legislature and Governor sponsored a health exchange that could only be considered a total failure for those who participated in the last enrollment period. Millions upon millions of tax payer dollars were spent to create a system that didn't work and resulted in consumer frustration and hours spent waiting on telephones to get answers. The only saving factor was that Minnesota, unlike the other exchanges around America, allowed insurance buyers to buy outside of the exchange, and that is exactly what most people did. So, if you didn't qualify for a federal subsidy or fall under the revised Medicaid guidelines, you didn't have to buy insurance through MNsure.
Recently though, Minnesota was held out nationally as one of the States to reduce the uninsured total by 4%. What they didn't mention is that expanding Medicaid eligibility and offering a subsidy to buy insurance was the real cause of that, not our State exchange or ACA. That subsidy and expansion could have been accomplished without spending $148 Million dollars on a failed exchange. And by the way, MNsure will need more money this coming budget year to address the problems that still exist.
Why then was all of this done? The federal legislature in 2009 wanted a federal option in ACA that would someday lead to national single payer health plan or socialized medicine like what we see in Canada and much of Europe. When it was determined they didn't have the votes to accomplish this, the legislature wrote in the exchange option, hoping that it would ultimately lead to nationalized health. Instead it has caused the havoc that I reference in my lead sentence of this article.
When our clients ask us about Obama Care and where we are headed we sometimes just shake our heads. We add it all depends on how willing the voters are in this country to express their views at the polls. If they vote to sustain the law we will move forward with ACA and its' challenges until the problems have been worked out. If not, we will go back to the drawing board again to design a program to help those with health insurance challenges, but keeping close to our minds and hearts, that government has already shown us with the VA medical program that government does not represent the answer to our health care needs and management.