Health care expert Grace-Marie Turner says Bill Clinton’s public criticism of Obamacare and obvious infighting within Obama’s own administration proves the U.S. health care system is in big trouble on its current course.
The former president made headlines Monday, when he discussed the big problems created by President Obama’s signature domestic legislation.
“The people that are getting killed on this deal are small business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies. Why? Because they’re not organized. They don’t have any bargaining power with insurance companies. They’re getting whacked,” said Clinton.
“So you’ve got this crazy system where suddenly 25 million more people have health care and the people busting it sometimes 60 hours a week wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world,” said Clinton.
Turner, who actively fought Clinton’s health care reform in the 1990s and the push for Obamacare says, Clinton is on the right track – but only to a point.
“He’s got the diagnosis right. People are very unhappy with this law. The longer it’s in place, the more unhappy they are. He’s clearly hearing from small businesses. He’s hearing from families who cannot afford their premiums,” said Turner.
However, Turner suspects Clinton’s solution to the problem will only create more problems.
“What he’s doing I fear is teeing up, if Hillary is elected president, even more government control over the health sector. The American people know the problem is too much government control over health care,” said Turner.
She also says his characterization of what those millions of new people with health care coverage are receiving is badly misleading.
“He’s saying people have health care. No, they have health insurance. Ask people how hard it is to find a doctor to see them. People on Medicaid still have to go to hospital emergency rooms, particularly if they need specialty care,” said Turner.
Turner says the reasons for Obamacare’s failures are obvious.
“The health insurance companies are absolutely in straitjackets. The American people are being told the kind of health insurance they must buy, soup to nuts and absolutely everything anybody could think of, instead of actually having a policy that may work for them and their families that they may be able to afford. That’s not a choice they have right now,” said said Turner.
She fears a Hillary Clinton presidency would look to add a public option or some other way to increase government control of the health care system. Bill Clinton hinted similarly by suggesting those not qualifying for subsidies should be able to buy in to Medicare or Medicaid at a cost that’s comfortable for them, even if they don’t qualify for them.
Turner says that’s a recipe for disaster. She says the average senior citizen couple pays about $160,000 into the Medicare system but ends up needing more than $400,000 in care. She says the math of stuffing more people into that system should be clear to everyone.
“The system is not sustainable. It will go broke. It will go broke even faster if you put more people on it,” said Turner.
The Obama administration is also reportedly split on what do about insurance companies dropping out of the exchanges and demanding reimbursement in the billions of dollars. Some in the administration are apparently trying to work around existing law that forbids insurance company bailouts to keep the system alive.
At the same, the Justice Department is also fighting back against court challenges from insurance companies to pay them overdue subsidies.
Turner says this contradiction shows a fierce debate playing out within the administration.
“You have a big disagreement between the political people who want to do everything they can to rescue Obamacare and the civil servants who understand that these payments are illegal. Congress has passed very specific legislation forbidding any more corporate welfare,” said Turner.
Turner says this public infighting, plus the Clinton comments prove this administration understands the perilous state of our health care system.
“They know it’s in trouble. We have been talking since the beginning, since before this law passed, about the problems with this law. It was totally predictable that this was going to happen. Finally the supporters are saying it has problems. I think it is a whole other level when former President Bill Clinton basically says the law is a mess and a crazy scheme,” said Turner.
She says it will be difficult to fix the law because the Democrats are only interested in spending more money in a bad direction and Republicans want nothing to do with that. Turner says real negotiation will have to take place since Republicans will have to be part of the discussions, unlike 2010 when the law passed with support only from Democrats.
But Turner isn’t interested in tinkering with what she sees as a failure. She wants to return to healthy competition in the health care sector.
“Give consumers choices. They’re happy with the product. They’re engaged in helping to make sure that they spend their health care dollars wisely. And they see the savings when they make smart decisions,” said Turner.
“That’s what we need more of, not more government spending and government control, thinking that somehow we’re going to be able to spend enoughto that everybody can have all the health care they want all the time without any strings attached. That’s not possible,” said Turner.