BEYOND 'GLITCHES': Obamacare Nightmare Just Beginning

"Train wreck." "Fundamentally flawed." “Not ready for primetime.” This is the rollout of Obamacare. 

Constant “glitches” keep people from logging into the exchanges. Humiliating live video of reporters normally favorable to Obamacare simply giving up in frustration because they cannot sign up. Consumers who are lucky enough to get through the system are stunned to learn that their premiums have skyrocketed by thousands of dollars. One Pennsylvania mother says that she can either pay her increased premiums or pay for her kids to eat, but she can’t do both.

Extremely personal information has already leaked from the system in Minnesota. Software security experts from McAfee predict millions of identity theft victims. And one of the healthcare exchanges was forced to acknowledge that information collected from patients will be shared with law enforcement.

Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics wondered why Kathleen Sebelius still has a job. Jon Stewart invited her onto The Daily Show and mocked that he could “download every movie ever made” before she could log onto her own website. Her home state senator called for her to resign for "gross incompetence," as exactly “zero” residents of Kansas were able to successfully enroll in the program. 

The rollout has been such a nightmare that it is abundantly clear now that members of Congress really did not, as then-Speaker Pelosi admitted, even read the Obamacare bill before they passed it. In fact, the program's launch has been such an unimaginable disaster that it raises an alarming new question that would have been unthinkable amid the exaggerated claims of health utopia from three years ago: Did President Obama even read this legislation before he signed it into law? 

This is the single most complex piece of legislation in U.S. history, and we citizen-patients have a right to know. Did anyone in the notoriously cozy establishment Washington press corps even ask him this basic question? 

Obamacare is a disaster and the American people know it. Republicans have never had a more teachable moment than the one they have now, between the shutdown of the government and the disastrous rollout of Obamacare.

Which begs the question: where are the Republicans anyway?

I know the Republican establishment never wanted a shutdown fight over Obamacare. But this is a fight we must win. Where is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell? Where is the RNC? Why aren’t Republicans telling the very real human stories of people losing their jobs and their doctors because of Obamacare? The president guaranteed that by 2013 the average family would see premiums reduced by $2,500. In reality, the average family has seen their premiums jacked up by $2,900, an eye-popping $5,400 miscalculation. What other predictions will prove to be horribly off?

Why don’t Republicans have a strategy to hammer this message every day?

Some see Obamacare fall on its face right out of the gate, but I see a real danger here. We cannot just sit back and hope these early glitches will drive Obamacare away. We have to make the American people understand what this bill is about to do to them, so they stand up and demand repeal.

When this debate began, President Obama guaranteed Americans that if we like our current insurance policies, we can keep them. If we like our current doctors, we can stay with them. 

Since then, millions have been kicked off their company insurance. More than 750,000 New Jersey residents have been notified that their former policies no longer meet new government mandates and will be discontinued. Thousands more have seen hours reduced and their coverage evaporate, as employers struggle to deal with incomprehensible new federal rules. Most alarmingly, almost one-third of doctors report their unwillingness to accept patients from newly expanded governmental programs.

Meanwhile, Obamacare supporters continue to call it "universal" coverage. And the media is totally complicit.

The fact is, the massive new bureaucracy will extend coverage to only 27 million of the 56 million uninsured under current official government projections for 2020. Ultimately, Washington is going to take over 1/6 of our economy to try to fix less than half of the total uninsured problem. This is madness.

Most nefarious of all is that this entire European socialist centralized scheme does what massive bureaucracies always do: hurt young people and punish healthy behavior while rewarding reckless people and bankrolling unhealthy behavior. Today, a truly terrifying concept unspools as we watch the administration punish Americans across the country by unnecessarily barricading national parks and veterans' memorials to make certain people "feel the pain" of the government shutdown. 

To quote a rural Nebraska pharmacist I met this past week: “What will these people do in the next government shutdown when they are also in control of every aspect of our healthcare? Withhold medication that people need? Postpone surgeries? Close emergency rooms?”

As absurd as this sounds today, a whole lot of absurd things have become reality under President Obama.

This is why I am running for U.S. Senate. Unlike Congress, and perhaps unlike even President Obama, I have read Obamacare’s 2,300 pages. I have studied it carefully and understand it.

I was a top advisor to President Bush's Health Secretary and worked to cut red tape and push market-based solutions over government mandates. We conservatives have always had great ideas for improving our nation's health care system by empowering patients and providers, but unfortunately Republican politicians have never been very good at selling those solutions to the American people.

Leaders like Sen. Mike Lee from Utah and Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas have done admirable work shining the spotlight on the horrors of Obamacare. I want to join them and lend my voice and expertise in health care issues to the movement they have begun. I am not a politician, but the people of our state have responded to our message: our campaign set a Nebraska fund-raising record in just three months in this race—because they’re ready for someone who can articulate the flaws in Obamacare. 

It’s not enough to just say “Repeal Obamacare." We must use this moment to convey to the American people the disaster that’s about to hit them. Then we must outline our vision detailing conservative, small-government, patient-centric solutions to fix our broken health care system.

Most of all, we must embrace our duty to leave to our grandchildren an America as great, as free, and as opportunity-filled as the America we were blessed to inherit from our grandparents. 

This is an important time in the life of our country. Republicans should embrace this moment, not hide from it.

Ben Sasse, president of Midland University, is running for U.S. Senate in Nebraska.


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