President Barack Obama released a video on Monday before the tenth anniversary of the signing of Obamacare, celebrating it as “the closest we have ever reached universal U.S. coverage.”
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFwf-M1hnYM (/ embed)
In fact, Obamacare expanded access to health insurance, mainly for the working poor, but at a massive cost to middle-class budgets. It also changed American politics for the worse, making it a zero-sum game where commitment is almost impossible.
The good: Obamacare can be credited with two achievements. The first is to increase access to health insurance, largely through Medicaid, which was originally designed to help the poor. The new law expanded household eligibility by 133% of the poverty line, and covered many lower middle class families. Federal funds were covering the upfront cost and tuition was increased by 15 million, though conservatives worried about the long-term cost.
More generally, Obamacare enshrined the idea of a health insurance safety net. Many conservatives, in principle, argued against the dependence of individuals on government and private sector solutions. Those discussions are ongoing, but Republicans agree that any alternative to Obamacare they will need to provide basic protections, such as covering pre-existing conditions. In that sense, Obamacare modified the debate again.
The Bad: Obamacare did not live up to its basic promises. It did not cut health insurance costs by up to $ 2,500 per household per year. In contrast, it lowered health insurance premiums, and many Obamacare policies had deductibles so high that insurance was actually useless. On the other hand, Obama’s promise that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” was one of the biggest lies in U.S. policy history.
Another area where Obamacare failed was the cost of prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical industry bought immunity from Obamacare by promising to spend $ 150 million in support of the legislation, both in advertising and in support of Democratic members of Congress who had voted on the bill. It was necessary for the Trump administration’s regulatory changes to reduce drug prices and, as Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) often say, they are too high.
On the other hand, Obamacare violated the Constitution. The one-man mandate, which required individuals to buy health insurance, Chief Judge John Roberts only stored in the Supreme Court, through dubious legal gymnastics. (In short, President Donald Trump killed her in her 2017 tax reforms.) There were other violations: for example, the Obama administration violated separation of powers by modifying the statute without congressional approval.
Perhaps Obamacare’s most painful legacy is the political divide he sowed. Prior to Obamacare, no major federal right had ever been passed without bipartisan support. President Obama, in the face of opposition from Republicans and the public, chose not to compromise or make himself available for incremental reforms. It set a precedent for driving dramatic change in party votes and reducing the incentives for bipartisan commitment.
Obama continues to twist his knife. In his video, he praises Obamacare supporters, “There are living people today because of what you did.”
This statement not only ignores the fact that Obamacare puts millions of Americans at risk by nullifying their existing insurance, but also opposing the law as a murder.
This kind of framing makes rational debate and cooperation impossible. Obamacare is not something to celebrate, but something to transcend.
Joel B. Pollak is Chief Editor of Breitbart News and presenter of Breitbart News on Sunday at Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday night from 7pm. at 10 p.m. ET (4pm to 7pm PT). He won an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Sciences and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is the recipient of the 2018 Robert Novak Alumni Journalism Scholarship.He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, available at Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.