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EDITORIAL: Obamacare off the rails

Its godfather now tells it like it is

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Sen. Max Baucus, who as chairman of the Finance Committee guided Obamacare down the tracks in the U.S. Senate, is changing his tune now that he's about to retreat into Montana to hide in placid retirement. He sees "a huge train wreck coming down" with the implementation of President Obama's health care takeover. Now he tells us.

With no sense of irony, the senator complained to Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, that he is "very concerned" that Obamacare exchanges will not open on time. "The administration's public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act deserves a failing grade," he wrote. "You need to fix this."

Obamacare's shortcomings run far deeper than anything that can be fixed by a slick marketing campaign and fraudulent television commercials. Mrs. Sebelius' department expects to spend $4.4 billion by the end of the year on grants to help states set up insurance exchanges. That's double last year's estimate; we can expect the final tally to climb yet higher. The state of California alone has spent more than $900 million to establish an Obamacare health care exchange. By contrast, privately funded Esurance set up a nationwide exchange similar to what the government has ordered with an initial outlay of $5.5 million in venture-fund investment in 1999 and a second round of $34 million a few months later.

Government just isn't very good at health care. Obamacare devotees treated the law like a health care version of "the Field of Dreams," believing that if they built it, people would come. They haven't. In addition to spending billions to build it, states are forced to spend tax dollars to cajole prospective customers to sign up. California is paying 20,000 part-time "enrollers" a bounty for every person they push into the system.

Republicans who never liked the idea suggest that Mr. Baucus understates the problem with the exchanges. "Officials have admitted that they've gone from worrying over the color of [type] fonts on a website to just making sure the exchanges aren't a 'Third World experience,'" writes Rep. Mike Pompeo, Kansas Republican. "There's little to no information about how the exchanges will function."

In a letter to Mr. Baucus, Mr. Pompeo placed the blame where it belongs; namely, on Democratic lawmakers. "Each one of these problems results from legislation you authored and your colleagues supported," Mr. Pompeo wrote. "You drafted it, you twisted arms to get it passed, and, until now, you have lauded it as a model for all the world. Your attempts to pass the buck to President Obama's team will not work, nor will they absolve you of responsibility for the harm that you have brought via this law." Who can blame the senator for cutting and not running?

The partisan attempt to push the American people into a government-run health care system they don't want was doomed from the very beginning. Obamacare is not a coming train wreck. The wreckage of the train already lies without wheels in rubble and ruin. Obamacare must be repealed before the damage is permanent.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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