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December 9, 2010
A precedent for gutting ObamaCare
Amid the myriad problems created by ObamaCare, a way forward for gutting the bill is beginning to emerge.
This week's fallout from the Democrats' masterpiece includes news that the bill deleted discounts on certain drugs for children's hospitals that treat rare childhood diseases. National Review quotes from the New York Times:
Pass the bill so we can find out what's in it. As the Dems like to pontificate, they did it for the children.
Next up this week is news that the count for ObamaCare waivers granted by HHS czarina Sebelius has reached 222 employers, insurers and unions, doubling in the last month.
As Fox News highlights, waiver-fever is emerging, as unions want to get theirs in return for supporting ObamaCare, businesses see their competitors getting waivers, and taxpayers begin to ask if they will get waivers from the individual mandate.
Most interesting for the way forward is the Fox report that "although the waivers are to last one year, groups can apply to extend them until 2014."
While the new House Republican majority must proceed with repeal efforts and make the Democrats defend their Frankenstein, former CBO Director Douglas-Holtz-Eakin, writing on National Review, shines some light a longer-term strategy to gut ObamaCare and fill in the spaces with real health care reform.
The Holtz-Eakins article notes that the Senate has passed "a one-year extension of the so-called ‘doc-fix' in order to prevent a 23 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursement levels."
The doc-fix was conveniently omitted from the ObamaCare bill so the Democrats could claim their redistribution-through-health-policy-bill would save money.
Holtz-Eakin further notes that funds for the latest doc-fix came from "increasing recapture payment thresholds for health-insurance subsidies created under the health-care law." Translating from the bureaucratese, the temporary doc-fix funds came from defunding a small piece of ObamaCare.
The NRO piece points out that delaying the Medicaid expansion program by two or three years would free up hundreds of billions in funds that could be used to restore the $332 billion in phantom Medicare cuts that were included in ObamaCare.
States that see Medicaid expansion breaking the bank under ObamaCare would welcome the delay, and seniors facing Donald Berwick's rationing boards would welcome restored Medicare funds.
However, the real breakthrough from Holtz-Eakin is that ObamaCare is a ripe goose already funded to the hilt, an "already allocated budget." An "important precedent" has been set by taking the doc-fix out of ObamaCare funds:
As rules are waived for one, then many, then all, and dates certain delayed a year, then two, then three, and funds are taken here, then there, the shell of ObamaCare may remain, but the gutting over time will tell the tale.
In the new wave of fiscal austerity and budget crunching, ObamaCare may be the goose that lays the golden egg, a ready source of funding for the priorities of the day.
Now, about those 159 boards and commissions...