by Dr. Arie Friedman
Over the past few days, Senator Richard J. Durbin has begun touting a governmental study that claims the new health care law will save a low income family of four up to $14,900 per year. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) should find Durbin’s claims ironic in the extreme.
In reality, Durbin’s supposed savings represent insurance premium subsidies and tax credits created by some of the PPACA’s most fiscally irresponsible provisions. The economic forces put into motion by these handouts will result in fewer jobs, higher taxes, and a more dangerous economic situation for our country. Half-truths only damage our ability to confront and solve the extensive problems in our health care system.
Let’s break it down a bit. Senator Durbin’s $14,900 becomes available to lower income families beginning in 2014. These exact same subsidies are featured in Richard Foster’s debunking of the claim that the PPACA will result in a reduction of the federal deficit. Mr. Foster’s opinions should not be taken lightly. He currently serves as the Chief Actuary for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services - the branch of the federal government arguably most responsible for the implementation of the PPACA.
With even President Obama agreeing that we are in the midst of worsening debt crisis, it is hard to see how another hugely expensive entitlement program will result in a better economic future for anyone. Additionally, since businesses with 50 or more employees will be fined $2000 per subsidized worker, it is inevitable that many companies will make the decision to eliminate positions. This is also not an outcome likely to warm the hearts of parents struggling in today’s economy.
Worse still, many families will find that instead of receiving insurance premium subsidies, they will end up joining the 16 million Americans being forced onto Medicaid. Imagine their dismay when they find out their access to quality health care has been dramatically reduced as a result. According to former Illinois Comptroller Dan Hines, an important explanation for this scarcity of access can be found in the state’s history of manipulative, mismanaged, and hypocritical financial dealings with Medicaid providers. The new financial burdens placed on Illinois Medicaid by the PPACA will only serve to worsen this harmful health care disparity in the years to come.
In the end, Richard Durbin’s fictitious low-income family will discover what we all need to learn once and for all. There is no such thing as a free lunch and a $14,900 savings obtained through federal gifts comes with an unbearable price of its own.
It is now time to finish the job of repealing last year’s disastrous health care law. We then need to replace it with patient centered solutions that result in truly decreased health care costs, greater freedom, less reliance on failed government entitlement programs, and an improved economic outlook for Illinois families.
Dr. Friedman practices general pediatrics in Lincolnshire, Illinois, and is a member of the Northwestern Medical School teaching faculty. Among his various extracurricular activities, Dr. Friedman currently serves as the Director of Illinois Docs 4 Patient Care, the National Director of Physician Outreach for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Director of Health Care Coalitions for the Illinois Republican Party.