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November 21st, 2017

Insight

Somewhere between Hawaii and Greece

Laura Hollis

By Laura Hollis

Published May 18, 2015

   Somewhere between Hawaii and Greece

Lost in the news of pre-primary charades, derailed trains, Scooby-Doo Hillary vans and ISIS attacks, Obamacare continues to slouch its way along the same inevitable trajectory as most top-down government monstrosities. (Speaking of derailed trains ... )

Last week, the Hawaii Health Connector released a plan to shut down the state health care exchange after the federal government restricted grant money to the state because it was not compliant with Obamacare, despite having spent over $205 million from taxpayers.

This isn't the first time Hawaii has failed in its efforts to implement government health care. The state attempted to provide health care for children in 2008 and had to close the program down after only seven months.

Nor is it the first state to close an exchange. Oregon shut down its exchange and merged with the federal Healthcare.gov program after having spent $303 million on a system that never enrolled a single customer.

The Affordable Care Act was written under the assumption that most states would set up their own insurance marketplaces, or exchanges. Only 14 states have done so. With Oregon and Hawaii gone, 12 are left. And most of those do not look much better.

Maryland struggled to launch an exchange and is looking to purchase Connecticut's system (one of the few success stories). Rhode Island admittedly does not have the funds to pay the expected costs. Vermont was facing a $20 million shortfall at the end of 2014. The Kentucky Health Cooperative had to get a $65 million emergency loan from the federal government at the close of 2014 to stay afloat; it has now borrowed over $146 million. "Covered California" is running an $80 million budget deficit this year, and its director has expressed concerns about its "long-term sustainability."

Massachusetts -- which had a government-provided health care system before the PPACA was passed -- gives a better sense of the future. Launched in 2006, by 2010 the state was facing cost increases approaching 10 percent a year. State government responded by imposing price caps, costing the five largest insurance providers $116 million, and throwing their ongoing financial viability into question. Today, the state has some of the highest insurance premiums and longest waits in the country. It, too, has scrapped its own exchange.

Experts warn of more "bailouts" and failed exchanges, as the PPACA regulations require state exchanges to be completely self-funded this year.

There is a pattern here, and it is no coincidence. There are those who continue to claim that Obamacare is less successful than it could be because what we really need is a complete federal takeover of health care. This is rubbish, and the proof is everywhere.

First, the government already provides health care for large groups of people in the United States. Perhaps you've heard the Veterans Administration? The public's ire was inflamed last year by the nationwide scandal of filthy conditions, dozens of deaths and over 120,000 veterans on secret waiting lists, many of whom never received any care. But the VA's problems go back much longer.

Ditto for the Indian Health Services, with its unofficial motto, "Don't get sick after June," the month the federal money runs out. The quality of care provided to Native Americans is as much a national disgrace as the VA.

If the federal government cannot provide adequate care for 2 million Native Americans or 7 million veterans, what makes anyone believe they can do it effectively for 330 million people?

"Because Sweden!"

The entire population of Sweden is less than that of Los Angeles County.

"Because the feds have more money!"

And "more money" is what gave us the disastrous $600 million boondoggle that was Healthcare.gov.

"Because the federal government is too big to fail!"

After the financial collapse of 2008, does anyone still believe this? If you insist, then look at Greece, with 25 percent unemployment and debt that is 175 percent of its total gross domestic product. Greece is an excellent example of what happens when the expenditures of promised benefits exceed the revenues brought in. Its population is only 11 million people.

Think it cannot happen here? It is already happening here.

Social Security is the "gold standard" of government programs. But the SSA trustees are warning -- again that the program faces insolvency in less than 20 years unless lawmakers make needed changes now so that the public has time to adjust.

There is little political will to face these hard realities. But even when braver candidates suggest repealing Obamacare or making changes to Social Security, the left and its media shills accuse them of wanting people to suffer.

People are already suffering. Responsible leaders in politics and the media would try to stop it, instead of promising things that no one can afford or will ever provide.

But it's apparently all Greek to them.

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Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.

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