Back to Obamacare

Posted on September 11, 2013 by

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It’s hot here in DC, really hot–96 degrees and humid.  How did people function here before air conditioning?  Wait, they didn’t. Government was much smaller and those who could left town for the summer.  Jefferson had two homes in Virginia.  Congress had a longer vacation.  Those were the good old days.

But here we are today, about to be inundated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare.  For Congress, it was shear negligence, given the ridiculous ambiguity and vagueness of the act and the failure of most legislators even to read it.  For the President, it was a victory of sorts, though looking a bit less promising, even after his nineteen exemptions and modifications, some probably patently illegal.  For lawyers and bureaucrats it has been a virtual full employment act, what with 15,000 pages of regulations.  For conservatives it has been a nightmare thus far, but the tide might be turning.  For Christians the act and its regulations have been on many points simply unethical and unbiblical.  

Everyone is writing about Obamacare and sometimes familiarity breeds indifference rather than contempt.  But for those who have remained on message, greater familiarity with the act and especially with the associated regulations, is breeding much contempt.  I am writing this blog post so we don’t forget the problem that Obamacare is.  So what is its problem.  It is a textbook case on aspects of government failure. 

First the act was an attempt to address a problem that either could have been addressed better by the market itself or with a minimal adjustment from the Federal government.  This of course is an efficiency issue.  Who–the market or government–can produce the most efficient production of health care services, that is, the best services at lowest possible cost?  This of course is a hugely complex subject.  But analysts have concluded that the extent to which Congress went was much farther than actually necessary.

Which brings us to a second problem–Congress itself.  The bill that emerged as the ACA was 2,400 pages long.  That in itself is completely ludicrous.  But one might expect that such a long piece of legislation would at least be precise and comprehensive.  Not so.  I did read the bill (a real waste of valuable time) and discovered that most of it was drafted in language so vague and sloppy that it left virtually all the important details to the administrative agencies writing the implementing regulations (bureaucracy)–HHS, IRS, etc.  Here then is a classic case of contemporary political decision-making. Throw something together so you can say you “did something” and then let the Federal bureaucracy fill in the details with almost no effective guidance.  In other words, the bureaucracy in effect re-wrote the legislation through regulation.  What happened to representation and the will of the people?  

Third, the ACA contains several provisions that are quite offensive to Christians.  The most important one is the so-called “individual mandate,” the provision requiring everyone either to purchase a regulated level of insurance coverage or pay a penalty (tax?).  The problem is that the coverage package required to be purchased includes drugs or procedures that are abortifacient.  President Obama only conceded the slightest bit on this, exempting specifically religious activities such as churches, but not religious organizations or private businesses with conscience objections.  If there was ever a good case for a First Amendment “freedom of religion” clause case, this might be it.  We will see what the Supreme Court will say.

Finally, the quantity of insurance coverage and the regulations on the health care industry virtually guarantee that demand will increase for services, but cost will explode, both without corresponding incentives for more doctors, better care and more coverage.  

I could go on, but I don’t want to cause the reader to tune me out.  This issue has been in front of us for three years now and that can have the effect of “anesthetizing” us to the importance of the issue.  I urge you however not to forget this.  It has ramifications not only for our economy but for the church and for Christians.

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