By Pat Hughes
For a piece of legislation so wrought with top-down mandates and regulations, individual states were actually given the discretion whether or not to opt-in to a few key aspects of ObamaCare. One of those was a massive expansion of the states’ Medicaid programs. The other was the creation of state-run health insurance exchanges, where would-be enrollees could buy government-approved health insurance.
For a while, it was assumed that these two programs would get through the Illinois legislature without much resistance. Illinois is, after all, the home state of the legislation’s unofficial namesake, and the Democrats have supermajority control over the State House and Senate.
Medicaid expansion sailed through both chambers—without a single Republican vote—and is now law in Illinois (meaning 1 in 3 Illinoisans will eventually be trapped in a program that leaves its recipients with long waits and substandard care). But the ObamaCare exchange was never implemented. Somewhat surprisingly, Illinois’ political class balked on implementing its own health insurance exchange.
As result, Illinois joined 33 other states by using an exchange created and operated by, or in partnership with, the federal government. By doing so, Illinois saved itself $100 million dollars each year. When the federal exchange website launched on October 1, we saw exactly what that meant—the site was completely nonfunctional. Error messages were everywhere, there were very significant privacy and security risks, and the customer service was all but non-existent.
This is the website taxpayers were presented with after three years and a whopping $500 million worth of construction. And people stayed away in droves. In fact, more people had signed up for a one-way trip to Mars than had signed up for ObamaCare over two weeks after the website had launched.
Even at the exact moment when Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was testifying before Congress on Oct. 30, the site still was “experiencing technical difficulties.”
Not surprisingly, the problems run deeper for ObamaCare than merely a dysfunctional website. Recently, President Obama’s oft-repeated line, “If you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep it,” has been proven false. At least 3.5 million people have already been told their plan will be discontinued as result of ObamaCare. This number has been estimated to grow to as high as 93 million people.
As the problems and consequences of this attempt at health care reform become frighteningly tangible to average Americans, ObamaCare becomes more and more indefensible by its supporters. Because with every letter being delivered to a family informing them that they are not allowed to keep the health care plan they are happy with, the discontent with this law—and this President—continues to grow.
This creates opportunity for real, market-based reform.
Americans are not now—and have never been—sold on ObamaCare as acceptable health care reform. They have seen the big-government solution, and now it is time for the free market alternatives. Market-based solutions are out there in bits and pieces, but they need to be presented in a way that Americans see as tangibly improving their day-to-day lives. Now is the time.