When liberal pro-Obama scholars question the legality of President Barack Obama’s actions to implement Obamacare, the issue of illegal presidential use of power moves from partisan to frightening.
George Washington Law School’s Jonathan Turley is the second-most quoted law professor in the nation and a two-time Obama voter. He recently testified before Congress on Obama’s extensive use of executive orders and administrative actions to make unilateral changes in Obamacare, immigration policy, minimum wage and the IRS qualifying standards for nonprofit status.
As to Obamacare, Obama, so far, changed it in at least a dozen major ways, including, but not limited to, postponing the employer mandate, allowing insurance carriers to let their insured keep an old policy and, more recently, redefining the Obamacare “hardship” exemption so broadly as to nullify the individual mandate for at least two more years.
Was this legal?
Turley said: “President Obama has repeatedly violated this (separation of powers) doctrine in the circumvention of Congress in areas ranging from health care to immigration law to environmental law. We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis with sweeping implications for our system of government. … We are now at the constitutional tipping point for our system.”
Turley challenged Congress to re-assert its authority. “If balance is to be re-established,” he said, “it must begin before this president leaves office, and that will likely require every possible means to re-assert legislative authority. No one in our system can ‘go it alone’ – not Congress, not the courts, and not the president.”
Obama sold Obamacare with many now-broken promises. Saving costs was a big one. In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office set the net cost of Obamacare at $599 billion over 10 years – citing a gross cost of $848 billion less $249 billion in tax revenues and other cost savings. But recently, the CBO revised the 10-year price tag to more than $2 trillion.
Economist Jonathan Gruber, the father of Romneycare – which was the template for Obamacare – recently admitted that well, no, costs will not be going down. “Covering people with health insurance doesn’t save money,” said Gruber. “That was sometimes a misleading motivator for the Affordable Care Act. The law isn’t designed to save money. It’s designed to improve health, and that’s going to cost money.”
So, Obamacare won’t save money, but at least those too poor to afford health insurance will now lead healthier lives, right? Not necessarily.
Oregon expanded its Medicaid program years ago – the way Obamacare does now – to include some of Oregon’s low-income uninsured. Because of costs, Oregon did this on a random lottery basis. Some got it, some, unfortunately, wanted to but couldn’t. But this allows comparisons. Oregon, for example, can now compare the health outcomes of the now-insured Oregonians against those who wanted to get insurance, but couldn’t. Surely, the now-insured are healthier compared to those without health insurance.
But there were no significant differences in their health-care outcomes. While the newly insured did increase their doctor visits for preventative and primary-care services, some could not get appointments with doctors, many of whom wouldn’t take new Medicaid patients. Emergency room use went up 40 percent among the new Medicaid patients, not down – all for non-emergency medical needs. Forbes health-care researcher Avik Roy writes, “The result calls into question the $450 billion a year we spend on Medicaid, and the fact that Obamacare throws 11 million more Americans into this broken program.”
Worse, the uninsured dislike Obamacare even more than do those with health insurance. A recent Kaiser Health poll found that among the uninsured, only 22 percent have a favorable attitude toward Obamacare, a far lower percentage than the 56 percent of uninsured who are unfavorable toward Obamacare.
Before Obama became president, he said if he were “starting from scratch,” he’d go with a single-payer system. A few months ago, Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid was asked whether Obamacare would lead us to single-payer. Reid said, “Absolutely.” This is the real plan.
Single-payer is universal health care like the system used in Canada. It remains popular there. But in 2009, the incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association said: “(Canadian doctors) all agree that the system is imploding. We all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps Canadians realize.” What did the outgoing CMA president propose? He said: “A health-care revolution has passed us by” and “competition should be welcomed, not feared.” So while the Canadian Medical Association urges more competition and privatization, America moves toward even more government involvement in health care.
In the annual index of countries rated on “economic freedom,” the United States – since 2008 – has slipped from the No. 5 position to No. 12. Canada – at No. 6 – is now more “economically free” than the United States! Economic freedom and prosperity go hand in hand.
Yet this administration makes it clear it is more interested in wealth redistribution and less interested in wealth creation. President Obama is quite adept at the former – clueless about how to achieve the latter.