Obamacare at 2: Local politicos have differing opinions [Opinion: The Arena]

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Drs. John, Barry, & Mitch

The Affordable Healthcare Act—popularly known as “Obamacare”—has just celebrated its second anniversary, and Louisville’s congressional delegation appears to have wildly divergent opinions about the new law.  Actually, just about every politician, pundit, and prognosticator in the country seems to have an opinion about the 2700-page leviathan; despite the fact that almost no one has the temerity to state publicly that he or she has even read the thing.

ObamaCare (2).jpgFamously, Senator Thomas Carper (Dem., Delaware), serving on the Senate Finance Committee, admitted that did not actually read the bill before voting on it, saying that none of the senators on the committee “had a clue” as to what was in the document.  When the health-care bill was being considered in Congress, then-House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers mocked the idea that legislators needed to actually read the health-care bill before they voted on it—or that they would understand the bill if they did read it.  And, of course, we all remember then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s great March 9, 2010, speech:  “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

And, last month, Justice Stephen Breyer “promised” he had not read the entirety of the 2,700-page health-care legislation the court was examining; suggesting that it would be unreasonable for the lawyers arguing over the constitutionality of the law to expect the justices to “spend a year reading all this” to determine which parts of it should be allowed to stand if the court decides to strike down as unconstitutional the law’s mandate that individuals must buy health insurance.

McConnell 0405d.jpgOn March 22, Kentucky’s senior senator, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, spoke to his colleagues about the need to repeal and replace the President’s health care law.  “Looking back,” he said, “it seems like there wasn’t anything Democrats, including the President, weren’t willing to promise in order to get this bill across the finish line. As then-Speaker Pelosi famously said, ‘We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.’”

Sen. McConnell discussed the Independent Payment Advisory Board—popularly referred to as the “death panel”—which he referred to as “…an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats empowered by this law to make additional cuts to Medicare based on arbitrary cost-control targets.”  McConnell described the IPAB’s main role as performing “the inevitable dirty work of denying care.”  “In an effort to control spending, IPAB will limit patient access to medical care,” said the senator.  “It’s that simple. And, frankly, it’s unacceptable.”

Concluding his address to the senate, McConnell said:  “We need to reform health care. But this reform made things worse. The evidence and broken promises are all around us. It’s time the President acknowledged it. And it’s time the two parties came together and did something about it.  It’s time to repeal the Democrat health care law and replace it with the kind of common-sense reforms Americans really want, reforms that actually lower costs, and which put health care back in the hands of individuals and their doctors, rather than bureaucrats in Washington.”

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