If priorities are to be believed, the priority the Obama administration has placed at the top could become a flop. Political pollster Daniel Yankelovich says that Americans are slowly leaving the “wishful stage” of the health care debate, when polling data showed broad support for a larger government role in medicine. Yankelovich predicts “in the next few weeks, when voters discover what national health care will cost and how it could affect their own care, romance will give way to reality.” Studies already show the legislation's eroding popularity, as citizens find out the problems inherent in socialized medicine, the tax increases necessary to finance it, and the deception politicians use to inflate the number of uninsured Americans.
A few months ago, Americans believed the nation’s health care system was in need of a major fix, according to a CBS poll. Nine out of ten said fundamental changes were called for, although most said they were satisfied with their own health care. Some 34 percent said that health care for the uninsured still was important.
But the polls were taken well before the public education campaign had begun, and Congress was stunned and flummoxed by estimates of the cost of health care legislation being drafted in the Senate. The impartial Congressional Budget Office calculated the legislation could cost $1 trillion or $1.6 trillion, depending on its legislative components.
Little comfort was given to the public when they realized that just taxing the top tax bracket, the despised “rich,” would not provide enough money to pay for universal health care—that the tax collector would undoubted have to delve down to the middle-class taxpayer to finance a giant health plan. Kaiser Health News has reported dollars would have to be extracted from the “top-earning 40 percent of the population,” to pay for universal health care. When people learn ObamaCare means a massive tax increase for nearly half of all Americans, a revolt could ensue.
Still another major concern began to dampen public enthusiasm for nationalized medicine. It was in the proposed powers of a national health czar, known as the Health Choices commissioner, reported Kaiser Health News. The commissioner and the health choices agency would oversee a health insurance exchange, according to a draft bill in the House. The Health Choices Administrator would be the bureaucrat who would deliver Obama’s extravagant promise of affordable health for all. A health insurance exchange would be created, a national purchasing pool from which individuals and small businesses would pick from private plans or a government-run alternative.
The Commissioner’s authority would be all-encompassing. He would determine who would qualify for federal subsidies to aid in buying coverage, set standards for handling grievances for claims denied, govern insurance marketing campaigns, and set other standards normally controlled by the states.
Many citizens are seeing ads on their TV sets telling of the horrors of socialized medicine in Europe, Britain and Canada, where interminable waits for treatments are customary, and rationing of medical care is commonplace, especially for the aging. The largest threat for the aging is whether The Obama Administration’s National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, already encompassed in the Stimulus law, limits care for seniors only to what is “cost effective.” This is done in countries where health care is rationed to exclude treatment for many seniors, because they are judged to be near life’s end; why “waste” the expense?
Finally, no clear picture is given of even how many Americans are uninsured. Figures such as 46 million, 47 million, even 50 million are tossed about by politicians. The U.S. Census Bureau has tucked away in scores of pages of tables intriguing figures on the number of types and characteristics of people who do not have health insurance. The total latest figure, based on information gathered in 2008 is 45,657,000 uninsured. But this is deceiving. That figure represents the total of Americans who were without health insurance at any time during the year—even for a few weeks.
The figure also includes 9,737,000 who were not U.S. citizens.
The Congressional Budget office said in a 2003 study, “The uninsured group is constantly changing.” It analyzed data from “several federally sponsored national surveys.” Its findings: only between 21 and 31 percent were uninsured for the whole year. Between 56 and 59 percent were uninsured at any time during the year. Of those, ten percent said they didn’t need inurance. Seventy-one percent said it cost too much, but half of these bought it anyway in four months or less.
Demographics also come into play. Americans age 18-to-24 years old who were uninsured at least some part of the year totaled 7,991,000. Many of them, of course, were healthy and had uses for their money other than health insurance. Those age 25-to-34 numbered 10,329,000. Some 7,717,000 Americans age 35-to-44 were uninsured for some period during the year. Uninsured people 45 to 64 totaled 10,754,000. And those 65 and older numbered only 686,000. They may well have not yet signed up for Medicare or didn’t want it.
The total number of citizens who were covered by private insurance in 2007 was 202,991,000, according to the Census Bureau figures.
Millions more were enrolled in government programs. The total number insured by the government was put at 83,031,000. According to the government, 43 million people were enrolled in Medicare in 2006, 36 million of whom were 65 or older. The balance was disabled. Fifty-three million people are enrolled in Medicaid, the program for low-income Americans. Others are covered by military or state health plans.
A number of middle-income people who probably could afford health insurance were uninsured for some portion of the year. Those in this category with household incomes of from $50,000 to $74,900 totaled 8,848,000. Americans with household incomes of $75,000 or more, numbered 9,115,000. They told Census surveyors they were uninsured at some point during the year, so the Census Bureau tables showed.
Uninsured Americans under 18 were said to total 8,149,000. But because the latest Census figures, gathered in 2008, were for 2007, they didn’t include the effects of a law President Obama signed this past February 4. It reauthorized and expanded SCHIP, which added 4 million children to government health care. Children in families with incomes up to three times the federal poverty level qualified for the program. Children at even higher income levels in New York and New Jersey were allowed to qualify for SCHIP benefits, which now include dental care and mental problems. Proven citizenship is not required. The law provided coverage for an added 4 million children by 2013. So, in fact, there are far fewer than 45.6 million uninsured Americans.
When these facts sink in, the American people may rise up against ObamaCare. It wouldn’t be the first time such plans backfired on Congress. In 1988, Congress passed a bill to protect the elderly against the cost of catastrophic illness. But the cost to seniors—who would have been charged a big surtax to pay for it—was comparable to a slap in the face. The elderly were boiling over. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-IL, then chairman of the Ways and Means Committee who was most responsible for the bill, was vilified. At one point, a large group of seniors chased the lawmaker’s car down the street shouting and waving their canes at him. The bill was repealed some months later. (Rostenkowski later went to jail for mail fraud.) Now, with broad health care changes being drafted on the Hill, a repeat of the uprising in 1988 is not impossible.
When Obama signed the bill into law, he said, that “providing coverage to 11 million children through SCHIP is a down payment on my commitment to cover every single American.” That “commitment” may well end up as another Obama broken promise.