For those of us who oppose ObamaCare both on principle and on practical considerations, repeal is the only possible fix we can see. For those who support ObamaCare on principle, the only path is to allow it to roll out completely so its benefits can be fully seen — although it’s worth pointing out that even the law’s originators in the White House apparently don’t agree, since they keep unilaterally delaying full implementation as the law creates more political disasters. Polling shows that the electorate is somewhere in the middle, with a plurality or thin majority wanting fixes now within the framework of ObamaCare to make it better. That includes today’s CBS/NYT poll, although the difference between fix and repeal is getting narrow.
Hillary Clinton took aim at that middle ground today. In remarks made to a health-care group in Florida, the presumptive 2016 presidential candidate acknowledged that the law has run off the rails in part, but that Washington should fix those rather than starting over from scratch:
Hillary Clinton backed efforts to alter Obamacare on Wednesday, but also used her remarks to a health care group in Florida to offer a full defense of the sweeping and controversial law.
“I think we are on the right track in many respects but I would be the first to say if things aren’t working then we need people of good faith to come together and make evidence-based changes,” the former secretary of state and possible 2016 presidential candidate said.
We hear this a lot, but when asked for details from ObamaCare activists about the failures that need correcting, we usually get the talking points about what they thought was bad about the status quo ante. Hillary, though, conceded that the impact of the law on full-time working status and on small businesses needed to be addressed, even though she described the latter as “small business of 50 or more” employees, which would include all businesses that fall under the mandate. (Small businesses with less than 50 employees are not required to provide coverage.)
So what’s working right about ObamaCare? Er …
Clinton also singled out certain provisions of the health care law as successful. The former first lady said she supported children under 26 being able to remain on their parents’ health plans and that Obamacare allows more people access to preventive care.
The first change hardly required a national takeover of the insurance industry to accomplish, even though it’s still of dubious value. In an economy that actually produced above-population-growth job creation, young adults would have an easier time of getting their own insurance rather than making Mom & Dad responsible for their upkeep well into adulthood. Access to preventive care was not a big issue, either; everyone had access to it with or without health insurance, and as the premium spikes in the last few months demonstrate, they don’t come free either way.
What’s missing from Hillary’s list of ObamaCare wins? Oh, items like bending the cost curve downward, insuring the uninsured, and if you like your plan/doctor, you can keep your plan/doctor. The first two were supposedly the primary reason that health-care reform had to take the form of a government takeover of the entire system and forced participation. The third was the promise that a government takeover of the entire system would have no impact on the 85% of Americans who were already insured, with 87% of those satisfied with their health care. Instead, ObamaCare has made the system unstable, more expensive, and made many Americans less able to keep their current providers while seeing more money come out of their pockets for plans they didn’t want.
We can talk about mending it instead of ending it, but there simply is no mending it. What’s broken is the system itself, because it’s based on the idea that government can competently run a command economy. That’s what needs to be “mended.” By 2016, most Americans will have personal experience with the endemic failure of a command health-care economy, and Hillary will have to find a new position.