Editorial in the Las Cruces Sun-News entitled, "WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO GET RID OF OBAMACARE?"

October 10, 2013

A recent poll by Real Clear Politics combining results from CNN, Rasmussen, FOX, and Quinnipiac polls reveal a majority of Americans, 51% to 43%, want ObamaCare repealed. Certainly, a vast majority of Republicans want the legislation repealed because, as I argued in my previous article, the Affordable Care Act is monetarily unsustainable, will create a part-time economy, and does not actually fix any of the root problems of our healthcare system. So, what is the best way to get rid of ObamaCare?

The most widely considered strategy is the idea of defunding. However, this plan is doomed to fail for three reasons. First, it’s not a long-term strategy. Second, defunding is taking the focus off of the failures of ObamaCare and onto the government shutdown and Republicans. Third, it’s hard to argue for the defunding of a law that has been approved by Congress, signed by the President, and confirmed by the Supreme Court. Additionally, we had a presidential election where the candidate who was against ObamaCare lost. Now, I’ll admit the legislative process was slimy, ripe with political deal-making; and Justice Robert’s unilateral decision to re-label a significant portion of the law as a “tax” was probably the worst since Roe v. Wade. Nonetheless, Obamacare has gone through the wickets; and to defund now makes Republicans look like spoiled brats having a temper tantrum.

Another, and more popular, idea is to delay ObamaCare’s individual mandate. A recent poll by Morning Consult reveals 77% of voters favor this delay; to include 65% of Democrats. ObamaCare simply is not ready for prime time as evidenced by its 40+ statutory deadlines that have been missed already. Additionally, President Obama has unilaterally delayed other key components of the law such as the Medicare cuts, employer mandate, eligibility requirements, and caps on out-of-pocket insurance costs. Not surprisingly, these delays are all highly political issues the administration wants out of the way for next year’s elections.

So, why doesn’t President Obama delay the individual mandate as well, since it is such a popular idea? Because the administration knows that the more people signed up for ObamaCare, the harder it will be to repeal. The history of entitlements shows us that once people start receiving a benefit they will never give it up. However, I’m not convinced that delay is the best way to ultimately repeal ObamaCare either.

The best way to ultimately repeal the Affordable Care Act is to let it self-destruct. When I was still active duty and flying fighters for the United States Air Force, the planning process to destroy a target always started with the target; let me use this method to explain my rationale about self-destruction. If the target is to repeal ObamaCare, the only way to accomplish this is to have the votes in congress and the Oval Office. But, in order to secure these votes there must be a grassroots uprising among Democrats and Independents, as well as Republicans. And the quickest and best way to accomplish this is to fully fund the law, give it a chance to work, and watch it self-destruct. Defunding and/or delaying ObamaCare does not allow for this; and Americans are too fair-minded to repeal a law that has not had a chance to work.

Some argue that an entitlement program has never been repealed. Therefore, the only realistic option to get rid of ObamaCare is to defund. But this is not true. An entitlement program signed into law by President Reagan was repealed. It was called the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act and offered all kinds of healthcare benefits. And, get this; it was repealed because of staggering new costs associated with the law that kicked-in before many of the benefits. Plus, members of Congress had to hear from angry mobs opposed to the legislation. Recognize any similarities with ObamaCare?

Let me conclude with a brief mention of the perfect-world solution to all our healthcare problems: universal healthcare. Also known as “Single Payer Plan” or “Socialized Medicine” where the government takes care of 100% of our healthcare needs. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we didn’t have to worry about shopping around and paying for insurance premiums? And wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to worry about how unhealthy we are because the government would always be there to take care of us? Yes, that would be awesome! But we don’t live in a perfect world, and government healthcare that takes care of all our needs is fantasy. By taking out what little free-market influences remain in our current healthcare system, we will not only lose much of the innovation and technology we enjoy, we will also lose doctors. And by taking away an individual’s responsibility over his/her own health, healthcare activity will increase. Combine increased activity with fewer doctors and you end up with longer waits, lower quality and rationed care.

So, when Obamacare fails we need to be ready to make a decision: do we repeal and replace it with market-based reforms, or do we go down the road of fantasy?

Neal Hooks