It’s 2015, and Obamacare is set to bite back.
When first enacted, the Affordable Care Act established a series of steps for implementation. The argument was that it would allow all parties to have the time to gear up for it, rather than force everyone to face a radical overnight shift. Conveniently, it also meant that the really hard to take parts wouldn’t act up until just after the 2014 Democratic election campaigns. (That didn’t work out so well, now did it?)
Well, that time is now, and here they come. The number of people relying on Medicaid has exploded over the past two years, and with them, the price tag for the program. Throughout 2013 and 2014, the government has been shelling out a significantly higher amount of payments in order to keep doctors from dropping Medicaid patients. But now that 2015 has rolled around those payments are going by the wayside. Doctors in welfare states like California, Florida, and New York will be seeing drops of around 50% this year, without a matching drop in record breaking patient loads. Nationwide the cuts will exceed 40%.
This comes right on the heels of the Obama Whitehouse telling the Supreme Court that doctors have no right to require that the equal access provisions of Medicaid law be observed. Under these provisions, the government is required to ensure that healthcare providers are sufficiently compensated so that they can afford to provide equal access to healthcare for Medicaid recipients. Essentially, what this means is that the government believes it has the right to demand that doctors provide quality services for others and pay out of their own pockets.
Of course, the case that provoked the previous comment was more complicated than that. Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center came about because a collection of medical agencies in Idaho believed that the amount Idaho was paying them to provide healthcare to children with disabilities could not guarantee the equal access required. They wanted the White House to force Idaho to pay up. This brought the White House’s slap in the face to medical professionals.
As for Idaho? Well, the states are also being shafted in all of this. The 2015 changes are going to leave the states having to somehow find $15 billion to pay for what Obamacare now insists has to be provided without any federal funding. Given that Idaho is already paying out amounts that healthcare providers clearly feel are substandard, I find it unlikely that things are going to be improving any time soon.
It’s not just Medicaid that is feeling the pinch, either. In what is being hailed as the most ironic bit of upset of the year (mind you, we’re only six days into it), the faculty of Harvard is up in arms over the impact Obamacare is having on their insurance plans. With the so called “Cadillac tax” on pricier, more comprehensive coverage plans now coming into effect in order to supplement the costs of so many previously uninsured individuals, the Ivy League professors are suddenly facing an annual deductible of $250. ($250? As a non-traditional student, I have a deductible of $3,000!)
In response, faculty members have voted overwhelmingly against the changes to their plans–though too late to actually stop them. They have been tossing around such terms as “deplorable” and “deeply regressive.” This is a considerable change from the optimism with which Obamacare was being discussed by academia two years ago.
With the pain of these changes just beginning to be felt, the new Republican majority Congress is starting to find bipartisan support for change we can all actually believe in. This week, a number of Democrats are expected to join Republicans in changing Obamacare’s definition of “full time work” back to the traditional 40 hours a week (from the 30 it currently states). Whether this represents a fundamental shift in both the healthcare debate and in the extremely partisan behavior of Congress remains to be seen, but it certainly seems that a new stage is fast approaching.
Obamacare is biting back, and both sides are beginning to feel that pinch.