Popular sentiment is that final passage of the Obamacare Frankenstein is inevitable. Reform in its near final form is far from that which was promised by the Obama administration, in that many will be forced out of their private insurance, costs will rise, care will be rationed, and millions will be left uninsured.
Further, contrary to traditional congressional procedure, it has become evident that the differences in the House and Senate bills will be resolved outside of conference and behind closed doors.
It seems that all conservatives are left to grapple with are calls for greater transparency, while they cling to the claim that bipartisanship is dead. But is this really the endgame?
Of all the proposed changes, the inclusion of individual mandates in both the House and Senate bills is one of the most oppressive elements of the health care overhaul. Individual mandates have been a sticking point in the health care debate since the presidential primaries, and was in fact one of the central elements that distinguished the Obama and Clinton platforms. In the campaign, then candidate Obama was set against individual mandates, acknowledging that they had the potential to result in more harm than good.
President Obama should listen to candidate Obama. A report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirms that even with the inclusion of individual mandates, the Senate bill would leave 19 million people uninsured while further burdening this group with $29 billion in additional taxes and penalties.
Is there any way to hold the congressional Democrats accountable for these broken promises and misguided reform plans? A few states have decided they will not sit back and await destructive “reform.” Arizona is one of the most striking examples. It has developed its own legislation, HCR 2014, which will be put on the ballot in the 2010 election. The resolution blocks any effort that forces the state’s residents to enroll in a government run insurance plan, that restricts a person’s ability to purchase private insurance, or that interferes with the right to pay directly for medical services. Most importantly the legislation blocks any effort to penalize individuals or businesses that decline health coverage.
Massachusetts, a precursor state in implementing individual mandates, has seen its health care costs increase by 42 percent in the two years since their implementation, and continues to grapple with nearly a quarter of a million people still lacking health insurance coverage in the state.
Arizona’s proposed legislation does more than just attempt to block Obamacare’s misguided reform efforts; it also proposes alternative reforms that will actually lower the cost of health care and increase accessibility in the state. A few of these reforms include allowing for the purchase of health insurance across state lines, extending tax breaks to those who purchase their own private insurance, and eliminating sales and premium taxes on HSA eligible plans.
Arizona is not the only state to propose legislation protecting its citizens from Obamacare’s liberty-eroding mandates. Thirteen other states have also filed or pre-filed similar legislation including: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. In addition 10 states - Alaska, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire,Oklahoma, Montana, Tennessee, and Utah have announced intentions to move forward with similar legislation in 2010.
Notably absent from that list is North Carolina – a state that faces a possible $600 million in new expenses as a result of the proposed Medicaid expansion included in the Obamacare reform plan. This will surely be an unwelcome added financial burden in a state already feeling the pinch of more than a billion dollars in new taxes enacted a few months ago.
The question is what is North Carolina waiting for? The health care overhaul has proven to be so unpopular with the American people that legislatures are ramming bills through Congress on Christmas Eve, going back on their promises to televise debates on C-SPAN and make legislation publicly available before a vote, and circumventing the customary procedure of conference in drafting the final bill.
Amidst the incredible lack of transparency there is distinct clarity – it is now up to the states to take matters into their own hands, carry the voice of the American people and counter the evolving monster of government-run health care before it consumes even more of our freedom.