Tennessee, Georgia right not to rush into ObamaCare

Tennessee, Georgia right not to rush into ObamaCare

February 27th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

Supporters of the ObamaCare socialized medicine law are complaining that many states are not moving fast enough to set up the layers upon layers of bureaucracy required by the law, which Democrats alone passed in 2010.

At issue are the so-called health insurance exchanges. States must set up those exchanges, or else the federal government will step in.

Only 13 states and the District of Columbia have set up the exchanges so far.

"An additional 17 states are making headway, but it's not clear all will succeed," The Associated Press reported. And 20 more states -- including Tennessee and Georgia -- are labeled as "lagging."

But even in states that have set up the exchanges, officials admit that the bureaucracy involved is mind-boggling.

"It's a very heavy lift," Diana Dooley, California's health secretary, told the AP. "Coverage is certainly important, but it's not the only part. It is very complex."

And there are other excellent reasons for states not to rush into ObamaCare any sooner than they are required to do so. The most obvious one is the massive cost it is expected to impose on the states.

As noted by former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, ObamaCare is the "mother of all unfunded mandates." He later warned that the law -- which will swell government health care rolls by tens of millions of Americans -- would burden Tennessee with a new $1.1 billion in costs between 2014 and 2019 through its expansion of Medicaid.

Surveying Tennessee's budget, what would you cut to free up that kind of money? Education? Incentives that draw companies to the state -- such as the incentives that helped attract the huge Volkswagen manufacturing plant to Chattanooga's Enterprise South industrial park?

Where Tennessee and other states are supposed to find the money to pay for ObamaCare's unfunded mandates is a question that has not yet been answered -- and one that was all too seldom asked when Democrats were furiously pushing to enact budget-busting ObamaCare.

Remember when then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., declared that "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy"? Well, it has been almost two years since Congress passed ObamaCare. The "fog" is lifting, and that painfully reveals high costs and heavy bureaucracy -- both of which are making states reluctant to embrace ObamaCare.

But another excellent reason for states to exercise caution before building up the ObamaCare bureaucracy is that it is not certain that ObamaCare will ever fully take effect.

That's because a majority of the states have sued to have ObamaCare declared unconstitutional, and a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is expected this year -- before a lot of ObamaCare's provisions are scheduled to kick in.

It is, of course, unclear how the Supreme Court may rule. Rulings in lower federal courts conflict, with some upholding ObamaCare and some labeling its major provisions unconstitutional. It clearly would not be wise for states to expend vast resources and time setting up programs that might never have to be imposed on their residents.

"It is a wise course of action to wait ...," said Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville. "Ultimately I think ObamaCare is going to be kind of a dismal situation for the states."

Indeed it is. ObamaCare, with its requirement that Americans buy government-approved insurance or be penalized, is a blight on the U.S. Constitution and on the principles of individual liberty and personal choice. It is also a blight on the finances of individuals, businesses, and federal and state governments.

It richly deserves to be overturned by the Supreme Court. But until the court rules, there is no call for states to rush to set up the ObamaCare bureaucracy.