Leave it alone

  • Tuesday, October 1, 2013

During a hospital board meeting the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was a topic of conversation. A board member asked if the law would affect his (small) business. I wondered if he has been keeping up with the myriad of news reports on the subject.

Don't get me wrong; the uncertainty of the board member is understandable, considering Nancy Pelosi even admitted that legislatures had to pass it so they would know what was in it. In an act of political theater, Texas Senator Ted Cruz last week embarked on a tirade in an attempt to defund the president's signature health care law. Cruz is not alone in his belief that the law is bad for Americans. Polls (CBS, NBC, and Fox) reflect this.

So, what are they afraid of?

It is assumed that most Americans will qualify for discounts to help pay the premiums: some will not. Exceptions also apply to some such as being in the country illegally or being incarcerated. However, based on a Manhattan Institute analysis of Health and Human Services numbers, Obamacare will increase underlying insurance rates for younger men by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. The data was published September 25, in a Forbes article by contributor Avik Roy.

Then there are the little things.

During the hospital board meeting board chair Doctor Harry Floyd recommended appropriate staff be brought up on the coding system. Most people would not give Dr. Floyd's remark much thought: but they should.

When you visit the doctor your diagnosis is reduced to a code. The number of codes in the new medical coding system (called ICD-10) will jump from 13,000 to 144,000. Other countries have implemented the ICD-10 standards, which was approved by the Bush administration. However, because of the sheer number of codes that must be checked and that the new codes will not improve health care, many medical professionals are not embracing this part of the conversion.

Though Senator Cruz's record breaking 21-hour quasi-filibuster may be seen as nothing more than an exercise in futility, the underlying question is whether or not this is right for America. Many don't believe it is.

In 2011, 200 economists asked Congress to repeal the act. More recently, the unions have demanded a reinterpretation of the Affordable Care Act so the exchange subsidies, which are intended for the uninsured, are available to their members. And what about big industry who has been granted waivers and Congress and their staff granted exemptions from certain provisions? Is it good for you and me but not for them? And as this information is either agreed upon or argued as misleading, what are we to believe?

Maybe Ms. Nancy Pelosi had it right. The only way to find out if the law will work is to let it pass. This brings to mind a story about a man and his dog. The man's dog is a retriever whose job is to find/flush birds. The pup is expected to sit on gunfire however; he prefers to chase after the bird. When he did this, and it was rather often, his owner would respond in a low throaty tone saying, "Leave it alone". The phrase was such that his friends would later repeat over and over with delight.

If you think about it, the dog owner's attitude can be exercised with Obamacare. Leave it alone. If it is successful (which could take some time to see the full benefits), we all can celebrate. On the other hand, if the president's Health Care Reform fails, the blame will be his and his alone.

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