Why the Obamacare Train Wreck Must Be Stopped

By: PanAm Post Staff - May 27, 2015, 11:36 am
Obamacare fixes just confirm the failure. (Mike Bitzenhofer)
Those running to repeal Obamacare’s destruction have a constituency behind them. (Mike Bitzenhofer)

EspañolAs of this month, Obamacare has undergone not fewer than 50 substantial changes since its enactment in March 2010. One wonders what is worse: the law and its economically destructive mandates or that US President Barack Obama initiated 31 of these changes without legislative approval.

Such wholesale changes on the fly, by the law’s own architects, demonstrate the Affordable Care Act’s resounding failure better than any critic ever could. Many of those responsible have now admitted the error of their ways, resigned, or inadvertently revealed the dishonest manner of its passage. Political proponents such as former Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana have also suffered swift dismissals from their constituents.

US Americans have tasted the proof in the pudding and strongly oppose enforcement, as Obamacare enrollments slow to a trickle. They see that the complicated mix of mandates, subsidies, taxes, and “exchanges” have already reduced choice, raised costs, violated privacy, undermined constitutional government, and harmed employment prospects for the most vulnerable.

Far from serving constituent needs and promoting competition, “large health insurance plans … effectively are collaborating with government officials in carrying out federal health policy,” as explained in a Mercatus Center working paper (PDF).

However, diehard legislators and special interests still stand in the way of Obamacare’s repeal and parrot deceptive signup numbers, failing to discount those who either do not pay premiums or drop out. Ad hoc changes and delay tactics have mitigated some of the political fallout, and the medical reform has now achieved a considerable degree of inertia.

If advocates for deregulation are to achieve a meaningful reversal of this train wreck, they must (1) stand vigilantly against any progressive claim to the moral high ground and (2) zero in on and unravel the last stand of Obamacare adherents: the utopian march to socialized medicine.

Richard Epstein addresses the first point in a penetrating essay, “Obamacare’s Slow Death?” There was, as he notes, a problem: “inferior health care at premium prices for large portions of the population.” Unfortunately, the progressives in control of the reform chose to double down with more subsidies and tighter regulations.

If the reformers cared for the needs of constituents, rather than those of well-connected lobbies, they could have chosen an alternative path. In fact, there are many reforms that would cost less than nothing to enact and would immediately achieve better access to medical treatment. Consider, for example, that certificate-of-need laws, bans on imported drugs, onerous FDA approvals, and licensing requirements all block the underlying supply side of the equation.

Even if willing to acknowledge the failures of Obamacare in its present form, many proponents may respond by wanting to double down again on the interventionist route. They remain enamored by the myth of universal coverage under “single-payer” socialized medicine.

Apparently socialized coverage is not enough to keep Cubans from fleeing on makeshift boats for the Florida coast, but one can also look to Canada for wisdom on this matter. Although this development has flown under the radar in US discourse, medical tourism for Canadians is booming, with more than 52,000 traveling abroad in 2014, up 26 percent from 2013.

Canadians, supposedly with universal coverage, have thrown up their hands at rationing, unwilling to take the risk of waiting lists. Consider that “in 2014, the average patient in Canada could expect to wait almost 10 weeks for medically necessary treatment after seeing a specialist,” as reported by Bacchus Barua of the Fraser Institute in British Columbia.

There may be less fire in the belly now among establishment politicos to repeal Obamacare, but for those willing to take up the challenge and embrace deregulation, evidence continues to pile up in your favor. Further, you have a constituency that supports you, so it is a winning platform.

Bolivian Electoral Court Campaigns for Morales, Chief Resigns

By: Belén Marty - @belenmarty - May 27, 2015, 9:58 am

EspañolBolivia's Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) confirmed on Monday the resignation of two of its members, including its president, after multiple allegations linking the judicial body with the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party. Wilma Velasco, at the head of the TSE since 2012, told press that she was "relaxed" after having handed in her notice, but was "tired" of the fallout from a video in which her colleague, Ramiro Paredes, can be seen dancing at a birthday party organized for him by MAS authorities. Senators of the opposition Democrat Unity coalition (UD) first disseminated the video on May 6, calling for the resignation of Paredes. The TSE official finally presented his letter of resignation on Tuesday to the Legislative Assembly, saying that he was stepping down for "the good of the institution." He also hoped that by quitting his post he might repair some of the damage done to the TSE's credibility by fierce criticism following the most recent local and departmental elections in the country. "Things happen for a reason, I probably didn't know about the presence of the people with these characteristics … and it happened, for a greater good, to give credibility to the Electoral Tribunal," Paredes added, explaining that he "saw people and not political colors" at the birthday party. Velasco abstained in a vote which suspended Paredes without pay a week ago. Tribunal on the Campaign Trail Bolivia's opposition parties have complained about links between the TSE's six spokesmen and the ruling party of President Evo Morales. National daily El Deber has been among those to mention Wilfredo Ovando, who was photographed campaigning publicly in favor of MAS in Cochabamba, and Irineo Zuna, who also did her bit to drum up votes for the ruling party. Spokeswoman Dina Chuquimia was also denounced for belonging to one of the constituent parties that form MAS, while Marco Ayala has various links with state firm Epsas. Betzabé Zagarra was also suspended alongside Paredes after being accused of peddling influence, nepotism, and political campaigning on behalf of MAS after she supported a government candidate for local governor. One of the most questionable TSE activities in 2015, however, was the cancellation of the legal status of the UD in Beni Department, traditionally an opposition-voting area of the country. With this decision, taken only eight days before elections in March, the TSE disqualified 228 candidates, among them the favorite for the governorship. "This tribunal received no pressure of any kind; the only pressure is from the law and the Constitution," Velasco said at the time, stating that the votes that went towards the UD on the ballots would be taken into account for statistics. Senator Oscar Ortíz (UD), one of those that backed calls for Paredes's resignation, told the PanAm Post that the resignation of the TSE president was an appropriate measure to take. Ortíz argued that the electoral authority was going through a profound institutional crisis, and had lost credibility through the various activities of its members. "We denounced the tribunal member Paredes because of the birthday party that MAS threw for him. But also for the abusive measures that the TSE has taken, such as the exclusion of the 288 candidates, and all its members are responsible for this," he explained. Finally, the senator added that his party was seeking the resignation of all the tribunal's members. "We're going to seek the support of public opinion and citizens so we can, as one, demand that the government name independent people to reestablish the credibility of the TSE," he concluded. Translated by Laurie Blair.

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