Many powerful Democrats, even some of the most liberal among them, are supporting what amounts to a dismantling of President Obama’s signature health care law.
Using “Republican” language to make their case, these Democrats are attempting to repeal some of the funding mechanisms as well as the cost-containment measures that were purportedly inherent in the law.
With some of their most influential constituent groups facing onerous tax increases that are slated to help fund the law’s mandates and regulations, Senators like Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and others — all of whom voted in favor of the law — are aiming to delay or outright repeal parts of ObamaCare.
A top Senate staffer explained (after ObamaCare passed), “This is a coverage bill, not a cost reduction bill.” David Bowen, who helped to craft the legislation, said that Senate Democrats had planned to follow in the path of Massachusetts’ RomneyCare plan by providing insurance coverage first, “knowing that that would bring on a cost battle second.”
In fact, RomneyCare’s mandates and subsidies caused health care costs to dramatically increase in the Bay state, leading the current governor and state legislature to exert never-before-seen controls on insurers and health care providers as they also raised taxes.
Not surprisingly, as Senate Democrats have gotten a look at what exactly is in ObamaCare, the parts of the law that were intended to control costs have gradually been stripped from the legislation.
Democrats first repealed the CLASS Act, the long-term care insurance provision of the law, which they realized would work against its intended goal of reducing the deficit. Similarly, they repealed another supposed “deficit reducer,” the “1099 provision,” that would have forced burdensome paperwork upon small businesses for the sake of discovering more “taxable” transactions.
Now, Minnesota’s two Democrat Senators, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), are using “Republican” terminology to delay the 2.3% medical device tax scheduled to take effect on January 1st. For these Senators, the tax, which is supposed to raise $28 billion over the next decade to fund the law, is now a “job-killing tax” that will not only cost jobs but make it more difficult for American medical device manufacturers to be competitive and innovative.
It turns out Senators Franken and Klobuchar have been enlightened of these facts by medical device companies in their home state of Minnesota; they’ve joined 16 other Democrat Senators who now share the same view. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), these Senators have asked for a delay in the medical device tax, but they are actually aiming for a full repeal of this part of the law.
The delay/repeal bug appears to have bitten members of the health care industry as well, including some doctors, hospitals, and drug companies who originally supported ObamaCare because of the fact that it is chock full of subsidies for many of these health care sectors.
However, the Independent Payment Advisory Panel (IPAB), the board of unelected officials that will determine which medical treatments and procedures are too costly for some patients, is supposed to impose cost controls on federal medical spending.
Threatened by these cost-containment provisions, these members of the health care industry are now intent on eliminating this panel, again using “Republican” terminology, like, “The AMA will work to stop the IPAB from causing this type of double-jeopardy situation for physicians and compromising access to care for seniors and baby-boomers.”
It appears many of the groups that originally supported ObamaCare want to be able to have their cake and eat it, too, and Senate Democrats seem poised to allow them to do just that. The question is, without these sources of funding for all the ObamaCare mandates, and without cost-containment, as intrinsically horrific as mechanisms like the IPAB may be, how will the law be implemented at all?