Opinion

The Great Debate

President must address Obamacare ‘train wreck’

By Mitch McConnell
April 24, 2013

When even a key architect of Obamacare says the law’s implementation will resemble a “train wreck,” it is clear that its biggest remaining supporters need to finally level with the American people about what’s in store — starting with President Barack Obama.

The president must step into the breach and explain to the public that skyrocketing premiums and a raft of new taxes, penalties and fees are coming their way.

It may not be easy, but the president has a responsibility to explain as frankly as possible what this law will mean — before its major components take effect. He could start by delivering a major address, just as he did to push the law’s passage, laying out exactly what Americans can expect. He should also instruct his Cabinet secretaries to explain what this could mean as well. Families and businesses across America need time to prepare — and that means they need to know the facts.

Here are just a few we already know:

For many families and individuals, especially younger Americans, the law will lead to increased health insurance premiums. These have already gone up $2,370 per family since Obama took office, not down by $2,500 as he promised. And this is before most of Obamacare’s most costly mandates have even taken effect.

For many business owners, Obamacare will mean a crushing tower of red tape, demonstrated by the nearly 20,000 pages of regulations already issued. Employers have already planned layoffs due to uncertainty surrounding this law, according to the Federal Reserve. Obamacare could result in up to 800,000 fewer jobs, according to some estimates.

For many part-time workers, the law means less take-home pay as employers reduce hours to comply with the law’s mandates. Colleges in Ohio and Pennsylvania are reportedly limiting the number of classes adjunct professors can teach; Virginia state agencies are reducing part-time employee hours to no more than 29, and a national soft-pretzel chain has begun moving to a “kiosk” store model that will allow it to cut down on full-time employees.

We’ve even seen a union reverse its position on the law and call for repeal, partially because it could “cause a loss of work.”

Clearly, this isn’t the “reform” Americans were promised. That’s why Republicans asked the president to begin this needed dialogue with the American people in his February State of the Union address. His refusal to do so then — and now — is only making matters worse. I understand that delivering these hard truths might be difficult for the president after all the promises he made. But it must be done to prepare Americans for what’s coming.

The very same Democratic lawmakers who worked tirelessly to pass the law are now pretending to be mere spectators to its effects – trying, for example, to blame agency bureaucrats for this impending train wreck. Candid truth-telling from the president has never been more necessary. After all, the election is over – he won’t be running again. So there’s simply no reason to hide the painful consequences of Obamacare from the public.

Republicans, meanwhile, are planning to continue the fight for full repeal. We’ve already had some notable success. Earlier this year, Democrats helped us repeal a key element of Obamacare known as the CLASS Act, which even a prominent Democrat likened to an unsustainable “Ponzi scheme.” The Senate last month voted overwhelmingly to repeal the law’s job-killing medical device tax.

As the country learns more about this law, it’s my hope that even more lawmakers will acquire the political courage to look at its effects and reach the same conclusion.

So I will continue to urge more Democrats to join Republicans in averting this train wreck.

The president should at least be straight with the American people about what this law will mean. Because when Obamacare’s supporters are reduced to hoping the law’s implementation will not amount to “a Third World experience,” as one administration official recently put it, you can be sure that trouble is on the way.

PHOTO (Top): An intern at the House Energy and Commerce Committee sits with stacks of paperwork for a mark-up of the healthcare legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 29, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

PHOTO (Insert A): President Barack Obama makes a statement about the Supreme Court’s decision on his administration’s healthcare law in the White House in Washington, June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Luke Sharrett

PHOTO (Insert B): Boxes of amendments line chairs during the House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting to mark up the  Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 on Capitol Hill in Washington July 30, 2009. REUTERS/Molly Riley

 

Comments
43 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Actually, no, Senator – YOU’RE the one to do something about it — namely, repeal. Not repair, but repeal.

Posted by Missourimule | Report as abusive
 

McConnell advising the country as to what would be ‘best’ here is like listening to Wall Street about optimal regulation. Both have one thing on their mind, their own narrow interests and nothing else.

There’s only one reason to deny us the single payer option the whole country was demanding before Obama foolishly caved into conservatives, and that’s that too many corporations are completely dependent on holding as many people’s health hostage as possible. To say they’re in a lucrative position is putting it mildly.

The situation they have us in is not much different than having to ransom your loved ones from kidnappers. The healthcare industry for the most part is NOT about reducing disease, or preventing it, or, least of all, finding ways of reducing the cost of treatment plans. On the contrary, the greed is appalling and unmistakable to anyone who looks; they relish soaking the system for as much as they possibly can.

And this is totally within McConnell and company’s field of expertise for there’s no drain on the economy greater than Washington itself, where all social burdens are twisted and skewed by the GOP to hold harmless the very rich.

Posted by AngryPancho | Report as abusive
 

Why would Reuters publish this hack attack from this scoundrel of the lowest order who made his #1 priority, not jobs or national security, but to make Obama a one term President? McConnell failed at that like he fails at serving the American people in every sense. If McConnell really cared about the American people, really cared about healthcare and what it costs the American people, he’d be busy designing legislation to lower the cost of our healthcare. It’s really a no-brainer if you think about. But as everyone should know by now, McConnell doesn’t care about the American people. He only care about power and wealth, and as he stated, destroying Obama’s Presidency. He’s just a good ol’ fashioned bigot, and puts his racism before the best interests of our country. Try doing something constructive for the American people for a change, Senator. Instead of writing op-eds attacking Obama, spend that time and energy coming up with your own solutions. But you NEVER do that. It’s all just a partisan game for you. I hope you lose your next election.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive
 

There is a simple solution to the excessive premiums. Just cover everyone under Medicare, then start deciding which procedures they are willing/able to cover and what they are not willing to cover.

Dump the insurance companies.

Posted by breezinthru | Report as abusive
 

No, Mr. Senator. Your view is misguided and misinformed. If these businesses cannot provide adequate health care for their employees they should not be open anyways. The percentage of businesses falls into this category is small. These larger businesses and corporations that can afford it is what this bill is set to fight against. You are the main proponent of keeping that small man sick and beneath the likes of CEO’s. Shame on Reuters for publishing this vomit inducing sack of literature. Respect lost.

Posted by bnewsom | Report as abusive
 

exactly flashrooster: Also, why didn’t the Senator get ‘specific’ instead of reguritating GOP talking points… And why not come up with a plan of your own…. It’s easy to call something bad… it’s a lot harder to describe something to take it’s place….

Posted by edgyinchina | Report as abusive
 

Why is Reuters posting this contorted partisan scribe as if it is some sort of journalistic “Commentary”. Lots of readers will not recognize the byline “Mitch McConnell” as the #1 partisan on the Republican side. The headline is misleading and should be rephrased to make this clear.

Posted by Esmereldo | Report as abusive
 

Then develop your own legislation aimed at reducing the growth of insurance premiums instead of just attacking Obama. Throughout the development of the Affordable Care Act there were multiple opportunities to help fashion parts of the law yet most Republicans instead chose to just be obstructionist. If you don’t like the government side of the Affordable Care Act then at a minimum come up with legislation that might change the rules of the game and increase transparency, accountability, and competition between hospitals and providers. Oops, then you are bumping up against your big money donors and they wouldn’t like that.

Posted by MH79 | Report as abusive
 

@Mitch McConnell

Shut up and drop …., you crook.

Posted by Foxdrake_360 | Report as abusive
 

Regulating the private insurance industry won’t work because high costs will still have to be passed on to consumers. In this respect, I agree with the previous comment posted by breezinthru. In addition, I don’t think any other major country has placed the burden of health care on the backs of private employers. This is a recipe for further economic decline. As Senator McConnell argues, Obamacare must be repealed (does he really think the President will admit to its flaws?). We need a President who won’t veto a repeal.

Posted by samBerry | Report as abusive
 

By your actions you have pretty much lost all credibility. Try being constructive and not destructive. If you hate the law so much put forth your ideas for improving it. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Posted by choto19677 | Report as abusive
 

How can the president address the Obamacare train wreck when even he doesn’t understand what a disaster he created. Oh wait, maybe the teleprompter knows what to say? :-(

Posted by dug1 | Report as abusive
 

President Obama needs to be as forthcoming and responsible as President GW Bush was after Medicare Plan D’s passage and the sheer utter mess that it was for the first couple of years after implementation. Oh wait, GW didn’t say a damn thing. In fact the GOP shirked any responsibility for its mess even after it had resorted to arm twisting and corrupt practiced to get it passed in the first place (this is part of what Tom DeLay was later censured for). It took the Democrats to step up and take over fixing Plan D in order to get it right and turn it into a program that is now hailed as a success.

What’s that Senator McConnell? No response? I thought so.

Posted by JShin | Report as abusive
 

Attack Obama, attack McConnell, whatever makes you guys happy… but for the love of all that is good, someone do something about these premiums that are crushing me and my middle class friends. Because at the end of the day, who gives a flying donkey what happened or who did it; the end result is that we are drowning here. Stop pointing god damn fingers and come together to figure out a way to stop this brutal increase in expenses (which have effectively given me a negative 3% raise for the last 2 years). PLEASE!

Posted by NorthernLight | Report as abusive
 

People around the world can’t comprehend that the mighty USA does not have a national, universal and fully tax-paid health scheme.
So many poorer countries around the world have it, including ex-communist countries, 20 years into capitalism.
What’s wrong with you, people. Do you realy hate one another so much and worship the dollar so much that you can’t put this thing together? And you want to export democracy to other countries!!

Posted by aussie66 | Report as abusive
 

My health care premiums have been skyrocketing the past 19 years. They are going to continue to go, with or without Obamacare. The Republicans have done NOTHING for health care reform. I think Obamacare needs work. It was put together and pushed through Congress too fast. Obama knew, that historically, he would loose his advantage in Congress in the Nov. elections. He had to get it through or nothing would ever happen. I completely blame any problem with Obamacare on the Republicans. Oh, buy the way, I use to be a Republican. Now I am a registered Independent.

Posted by tcsmith11 | Report as abusive
 

Aussie66, where do all the major tech breakthroughs come from for medical devices? I’ll give you a clue, it’s not Australasia or any of the other socialist free healthcare countries… The desire to make money on something has driven us to a point unparalleled in saving lives with tech. Please get off your high horse and recognize what is contributing to medical revolutions. But you can keep telling yourself that you are superior to us if it makes you feel better.

Posted by NorthernLight | Report as abusive
 

If you’re going to have a government provided system of socialized medicine, it’s not necessary to have that system provide every possible expensive care option. Yes, US medical research is excellent (though drug companies are hard to trust wholeheartedly, since they’re motivated to keep people paying for ongoing medication, rather than paying once for a cure), but the necessary level of investment can be supported by the folks who want to pay more.

For folks who are poor and just want their insulin shots, or their heart medication, or an MRI for a knee repair — things that we know how to do and that don’t need to be expensive — let’s just effing provide that care through tax dollars. Set a cap to how much the government will cover, and explicitly say, loudly and repeatedly, THIS IS NOT RATIONING. YOU CAN BUY MORE HEALTH CARE IF YOU WANT. BUT YOU HAVE TO DIE EVENTUALLY, SO DON’T BE UPSET IF WE WON’T SPEND 100 THOUSAND DOLLARS TO KEEP YOUR WRINKLY, 75-YEAR-OLD BUTT ALIVE ANOTHER 6 MONTHS.

Posted by ryanznock | Report as abusive
 

@Northernlight, we are one of a FEW countries that have made breakthroughs in medicine. Germany, France, Japan, and few others have also come up with advances in medicine, and they did it with universal healthcare. So stop being just another dumb American, like Mitch McConnell, and wake up to reality. Our healthcare system is the worst in the industrialized world. We provide excellent care to millionaires and billionaires that can afford to pay huge premiums, but to the average person that does not work for a major corporation that would provide health insurance, we provide sub par healthcare…….

Posted by KyleDexter | Report as abusive
 

NorthernLight,
Stop kidding yourself. Pharmaceutical and medical device companies are making huge revenues relative to their Research and Development costs. Just look at the earnings of some of the most innovative Biotech companies in the US – R&D costs are around ~10% of revenue for Life Technologies and ~7.3% for GE Healthcare. It’s the same story for many others.

You should also notice that a overwhelming portion of these companies’ revenue comes from the North American theater. They grossly overcharge American consumers for the same goods that they offer to Australians. Ya know why, right? Because they can – because we let them. Put your American pride aside for a moment and look at the reality of things. Ausie66, you’re right on the money.

Posted by manzanaQ | Report as abusive
 

@KyleDexter, Stop being such a looter and giving away other people’s stuff. When someone goes to medical school for 8 years, I respect them enough to give them a lot of money for what they have done. This Obamacare package forces doctors to accept people who have no intent on paying… Our old healthcare system rewarded those who worked hard and saved their wealth for a rainy day.

From birth is someone granted free food, water, medical care ?? What is next, free internet, free electricity, free gasoline? You don’t understand how markets work do you? I don’t blame you, I’m sure whoever taught you basic economics was half retarded as well. But I fear you have gone full retard here.. never go full retard.

Posted by NorthernLight | Report as abusive
 

McConnell cites barely any sources for his claims. One of the few links he does give — the article from the Weekly Standard on the Union of Roofers and Waterproofers ceasing its support of Obamacare — is from a source without even a pretense of objectivity.

When making claims with hard numbers, show us whether they come from the Congressional Budget Office or from some hack; better from the first kind if you want to do more than preach to the choir.

If one of my students handed this in, I would fail him on lack of attribution alone. I would fail him with a big smile on my face.

Posted by minderbinder | Report as abusive
 

Now we will finaly see what is in the law that Nancy and Harry had to pass to see what was in it. We might as well have turned the country over to dumb and dumber.

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive
 

Senator McConnell: Please take your own advice: “Candid truth-telling.” After all, your lopsided screed omits how to reduce the size and the cost of the medical care industry that now represents 1/6th of the total economic activity of the US. Other nations provide better medical care at lower cost. Further, your biased screed omits mention of the 30 million citizens now without medical care insurance. As a result, these uninsured citizens go to the emergency room when ill, and they do so at high cost to taxpayers because the U.S. Congress has mandated that ERs accept patients without regard to ability to pay. The government by law reimburses these unpaid ER expenses using taxpayer dollars. Routine medical care via universal medical insurance coverage would reduce serious illness and lower costs. Every other modern nation offers universal medical care insurance to its citizens. American has failed to do so for the intransigent opposition of the medical care industry for over 100 years. Allowing the re-importation of prescription drugs would also lower medical care costs by introducing competition in drug sales, thus lowering costs. Your screed failed to address these issues for a narrow, partisan view. Instead, you and your political party serve the entrenched interests of the medical care industry and the drugmakers. Shame to all of you for treading this dirty ground. Remember your heartless action when you pass through the Gates of Hell to reside forever with the liars.

Posted by anotherview | Report as abusive
 

McConnel is right — Obamacare is and Obamination.

It was designed to prop up a collapsing industry — the private health insurance system, with all its greedy executives and incompetent administration. There is a good reason healthcare and health insurer’s stocks have gone up — they have a captive market for their crappy products.

Scrap the law.

Enact single payer.

Problem solved.

Posted by upstater | Report as abusive
 

@bnewsom,

“Your view is misguided and misinformed. If these businesses cannot provide adequate health care for their employees they should not be open anyways.” Please.

News Flash: Businesses do NOT exist to “… provide adequate health care for their employees…” or provide “jobs”. They exist to make a PROFIT for those who put up the money to start them up and keep them running. No profit, no business. Got that?

To get heat out of a stove you put in wood, not talk. Somebody has to go get, chop, insert, and light the wood. Then it must be controlled and fed. But on this thread we have those who think one can legislate a smokeless, safe fire. Nope, it takes a “plan” and human sweat.

And the “plan” may vary between winter and summer. And you may at some time get burned. And you may have care for that burn or not. And you may live or die as a result. In history there have not been all that many guarantees in life except that adversity and death will eventually touch us all.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

Dear Mitch,
The train wreck is our current health care system. It’s embarrassing that you don’t understand this because it’s quite obvious to most. Who are you working for, again?
Sincerely,
JT

Posted by jtrealfunny | Report as abusive
 

Our two only options are 1) to vote incumbents out of office, and 2) to make it our business to email Congress members stating how we want them to vote.

Last November, I voted against all incumbents, from Congress on down to the local dog catcher. I email my Senators and House members at every opportunity. It doesn’t take long, and it isn’t difficult to find their email addresses. Just do a google search and the info pops right up.

I wish there was more we could do to stop our corrupt Congress.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive
 

Poor Froggy, or is it Turtle-Man?, was one of the Senilator leaders in Congress which passed the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Americare), but still hasn’t been able to read it and labeled it Obamacare after mimicking Romneycare that mimicked successful “socialist” healthcare programs in other countries (leaving out the death panels). So, they voted for something that none of them read? You’d think he has staffers who could read it out loud for him, or at least summarize the key points. You’d also think that he could turn to his colleague in the House, Orange Bonehead, for an explanation (without a crying jag), but two dummies are still left ignorant. Then, if he hasn’t read it, how does he know it’s a “train wreck”? Is this just part of his racist screed where he turns everything with the President’s name on it into garbage and evil symbology, even though it was passed by Congress? Are these professed believers in the Constitution just plutarchal anarchists in disguise?

Posted by ptiffany | Report as abusive
 

The United States has the most expensive health care system in the world and close to the least effective.

Enact Single Payer.

Problem solved. except for the One Percenters and the idealogues who subscribe to the myth of the big, bad government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Posted by ptiffany | Report as abusive
 

Enacting Single Payer a getting rid if insurance companies would be the ultimate goal, but not at the time of recession and slow recovery, high unemployment and continued bleeding of American jobs to… well, you know.
We’re lucky to have Obama… I wish Biden will have an opportunity to finish that huge undertaking they started together.

Posted by UauS | Report as abusive
 

The rallying cry of 2014 will be “Who do YOU work for?”. I think it’s clear where Mitch resides, on the side that pays the best. He, and his ilk, have been obstructionist stooges to any special interest that pays the best. A couple weeks back, it was the NRA (the Democrats are not immune to this one, by the way), this week, it’s the insurance lobby. Mr. McConnell… you work for me and every other American. It’s about time you take the politics and money out of it, and start acting like an elected official.

Posted by GreaterGood | Report as abusive
 

I think it’s good for me to listen to someone whose views are so starkly different from my own.

It clarifies my position in my own mind.

It good to listen to the senator describe his own position.

Kudos to Reuters for providing a forum for diverse points of view.

Posted by breezinthru | Report as abusive
 

I haven’t heard a constructive idea from you in years, Senator. All you seem to have done is become the current version of Jesse Helms.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive
 

The so-called ObamaCare law would have saved more money had it not been burdened with derivative recommendations from your caucus, Mr. Minority Leader. As for the negative talk from you and your caucus members, it remains cheap as usual.

Posted by SanPa | Report as abusive
 

While I believe McConnell is an ideologue in the same class as the President, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, I find it interesting that those that attack him fail to acknowledge that the Obamacare legislation was imposed on America by Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress and the (ultimate ideologue) President–without a single Republican amendment or vote.

Those of you who castigate one party, while unquestionably embrace the ideology of the other party live in an alternative universe. Continue to sacrifice your personal liberty, and the ability to make decisions for yourself, and you will be another government dependent with little or no freedom.

We are turning every urban area in this country into a reservation dependent on the political aristocrats who believe you are incapable of making your own decisions.

If you think this is what you prefer, I might suggest you visit Pine Ridge or Cheyenne Eagle Butte for a glimpse of what your future holds. You will not like the reality of a “level playing field”. (Then again, you just might.)

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive
 

The Affordable Care Act and its sea of regulations is a regulatory nightmare. It is a product of Congressional staffers who have spent entire working lives on a government payroll without a clue of how wealth is produced. In their minds it is just a world of huge employers who have vast compliance staffs and can “afford it” – whatever “it” is. The consequences of this – out of control premium costs and especially the negative pressure on employment (an employer with 40 or so employees would have to be crazy to go over 50 employees to be covered by the Act – an additional few employees could never justify covering the cost). Many part-timers with an eye on a full-time job can forget it.

Posted by SayHey | Report as abusive
 

these comments are a reflection of what…

better healthcare, worse healthcare, cost more, cost less, encourage research, discourage research…

this is worse that listening to the political parties trying to bury one another along with the American citizen who are doing their best trying to survive…

not enough jobs, shortage of physicians, research has slowed, we are living longer, immigration (legal and illegal) continues to thrive, food on the table, world at war one place or another, and we are going to beat up one another about healthcare legislation when we have no idea what will be the outcome…

we are struggling with healthcare here in our great nation which may not be the greatest if we continue to speak like everything is wrong “and nothing is right!”…

thank you.

Posted by chapapet | Report as abusive
 

The GOP should continue to ride the Benghazi and “Obamacare” rant until they have assured the nation they are losers again. Seriously, only those in the sickness and sickness insurance industry and those few religious nuts that agree to everything the GOP says will open their mouths to defend this stance. McConnell represents the rich masters and no one else. Yes, there are many people who like to be held in bondage, but they are not the majority.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive
 

Chapapet….we are not struggling with “healthcare” in this country. We are struggling with “who pays for it”,

The President believes this is another entitlement, or “civil right” (while demanding someone else should pay for it through taxation and penalties), while others believe there is a degree of personal responsibility, that at the least reflects lifestyle choices individual’s make.

There are those who demand “first dollar” coverage and unlimited access to the best health care America has to offer. Others understand that is fiscally unsustainable for 330 million people.

There are those who embrace the concept of “right to die”, acknowledging that over 80% of health care dollars are consumed in the last year of one’s life.

There are significant choices to be made where limited dollars are being expended to extend life beyond what it was biologically intended because of medical technology.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive
 

American healthcare is overly Government regulated and, hence, overpriced and of poor quality. The USA ranks at the bottom of the OECD “developed” countries in quality outcomes and at the top in cost. Can any red blooded capitalist tell me how such a thing is possible without Government barriers to competition?

How about we subcontract our health care to the British National Health Service? Outside of absorbing such a huge country, they certainly lower costs and improve outcomes and would be less involved in maintaining Government barriers to competition. And the rich can keep their doctors too, but not with tax dollars as in the USA.

Posted by usagadfly | Report as abusive
 

“American healthcare is overly Government regulated…”??? The health insurance industry and for-profit and pseudo- not-for-profit hospitals interactively drive healthcare costs up about 10% a year. They do this by price fixing and monopolistic anti-competitive strategies. The insurance companies just pass the increases along and take their cut. But Americans are too stupid to figure this out and do something about it. The only hope is in action. And look what happened when Obama actually did something – it will be the idiots’ cause celebre for the next century.

Posted by foiegras | Report as abusive
 

If President Obama were Jesus and walked on water, Mitch McConnell would hate him regardless of the issues. In a good old Republican tradition (no I am not a Democrat) Senator McConnell has no alternative to offer. I wonder how money McConnell collects from the insurance industry each year to perform like a buffoon.

Posted by DarkerThanAmber | Report as abusive
 

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