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BOOK REVIEW: How to dismantle Obamacare

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

WHY OBAMACARE IS WRONG FOR AMERICA: HOW THE NEW HEALTH CARE LAW DRIVES UP COSTS, PUTS GOVERNMENT IN CHARGE OF YOUR DECISIONS, AND THREATENS YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
By Grace-Marie Turner, James P. Capretta, Thomas P. Miller and Robert E. Moffit
Broadside Books, $14.99, 272 pages

"ObamaCare is wrong for families, wrong for patients, wrong for business, and wrong for our children's futures." That's the thesis, laid out on the first page of the must-read "Why ObamaCare is Wrong for America," a powerful book co-written by four battle-tested veterans of Washington's health policy battles.

There is no doubt that those concerned with less government involvement in our health care system lost the 2009 and 2010 health care battle, a discouraging episode in which facts seemed not to matter and wishful thinking and power politics prevailed. Yet this is not a bitter tale, and there are no sour grapes. It's a positive book driven by the insight that nothing is ever final in politics and just as President Obama and his band of congressional Democrats could run roughshod over public opinion and force the unpopular plan through a compliant Congress, so too can committed individuals, armed with facts and logic, reverse this disastrous piece of legislation - the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It won't be easy, but then nothing worthwhile ever is.

This book serves as a handbook for dismantling Obamacare and reforming American health care in a manner consistent with individual liberty and the U.S. Constitution. Upfront, the authors promise to detail what the "2,801 pages of legislation" will mean for "families, young adults, senior citizens, people with health problems, physicians and other medical professionals, small business owners and entrepreneurs, employers and employees, taxpayers, and citizens." In short, the authors provide a comprehensive examination of the biggest piece of social legislation since the Great Society. And it delivers.

The book commences by reminding readers of the horror of Obamacare and how it came to be the law of the land. The numbers are staggering. The law "creates an estimated 159 new agencies, boards, commissions and government offices."

It replays the deception. Candidate Obama promised a plan that would reduce costs for average Americans by $2,500. His plan will actually increase costs by $2,100. Candidate Obama opposed both the individual mandate and new taxes on health benefits. His plan is based on an individual mandate and relies on taxes not only on health plans but on all Americans.

The book chronicles the smoke and mirrors and Beltway bookkeeping. Mr. Obama's Democrats could plausibly balance the books over the first decade only by combining 10 years of taxes with just six years of benefits. The plan eliminates $575 billion in Medicare spending but, amazingly, double-counts the revenue as both available for funding subsidies for the Obama plan and as a major expansion of Medicaid. Most startling, it pegs the total cost of the first 10 years of the program at $2.3 trillion.

Then the book gets deep, making good on its promises in the early pages. The authors devote individual chapters to what Obamacare will mean for families and young adults, seniors, vulnerable Americans, you and your doctor, taxpayers, and you and your constitutional rights.

In the chapter on young families, the authors detail how the shift of power and control to Washington already has destroyed markets, such as child-only policies, and how it soon will increase costs. For seniors, the news is even worse, as Medicare became a chief funding source for the government expansion. "In short," the authors write, "ObamaCare is going to reduce your choices, impair your access to care, and increase your costs." For doctors, the net effect of the law, which produced more than 4,100 pages of new regulations in its first six months, will be a deluge of "red tape and bureaucracy."

The book finishes as strong as it starts. The final two chapters are devoted to laying out a positive path to reform and guiding activists and concerned Americans on how to dismantle the current law.

At the end of the day, there is little new under the sun. The choice is - and always has been - between policies that reward politicians while building bureaucracy and those that respect individuals and harness the power of free markets and entrepreneurs. The authors outline a program they call a defined-contribution approach to health care, tipping their hats to the popular and liberating 401(k) retirement plans. Their preferred program consists of meaningful tax credits that level the playing field between employer-funded and individually purchased health insurance, tort reform, high-risk pools for the uninsurable, and real reform for Medicaid and Medicare. It doesn't promise universal insurance coverage. This too is an improvement over Obamacare, which promised universal coverage but doesn't produce it. By 2019, 23 million Americans will still be uninsured under Obamacare, unless it is repealed and replaced.

One of the book's great contributions is its deft weaving of the important principles at stake and the details of how the mammoth law shifts our body politic in the wrong direction. "The health law reflects an ideology that moves power and control away from individuals and toward government and agents," the authors write. In so doing, they make an important move in shifting the momentum back to individuals.

Sally C. Pipes is president and health care studies fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is "The Truth About Obamacare" (Regnery, 2010).

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