The 2012 election dealt a blow to the country, not just because it guaranteed the same failed economic policies of the last four years, but because it also means that any push to repeal ObamaCare in Congress is a non-starter. Despite that, there will still be ways to significantly diminish the impact of the law.
While the decision last year to uphold the individual mandate was certainly disappointing, the Supreme Court did provide lattitude for states to refuse to implement expensive insurance exchanges and even more costly Medicare expansion. This was a silver-lining in an otherwise terrible decision that set a very troubling precendent for future expansions of government.
In a new whitepaper, “50 Vetoes: How States Can Stop the Obama Health Care Law,” Michael Cannon, director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, explains that this gives states the chance to effectively veto these provisions and thus save taxpayers and business money.
“To date, 34 states, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population, have refused to create Exchanges,” writes Cannon in the summary of the whitepaper. “Under the statute, this shields employers in those states from a $2,000 per worker tax that will apply in states that are creating Exchanges (e.g., California, Colorado, New York).”
“Those 34 states have exempted at least 8 million residents from taxes as high as $2,085 on families of four earning as little as $24,000,” he continues. “They have also reduced federal deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars.”
While the federal government could step in and create Exchanges in states who refuse to implement them, Cannon points to a report from The New York Times noting that this “will be a herculean task that federal officials never expected to perform” since the law wasn’t written to allow states to opt-out. Again, it was only after the Supreme Court decision last summer that this was possible.
Medicaid expansion would would even more expensive, but it’s also something states can avoid. ”The PPACA’s Medicaid expansion, which would cost individual states up to $53 billion over its first 10 years, is now optional for states, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius,” notes Cannon. “Some 16 states have announced they will not expand their programs, while half of the states remain undecided.”
Cannon explains that the “Obama administration is trying to coerce states into implementing parts of the expansion that the Court rendered optional.” Cannon’s example of this sort of bullying comes from Maine, where the state decided to cut eligibility for certain citizens who had incomes over the poverty line. The Obama Administration then pulled all Medicaid funding, which violates the Supreme Court decision. Maine is suing the Obama Administration, but there hasn’t been a decision in the case.
In closing the summary of the whitepaper, Cannon notes, “Collectively, states can shield all employers and at least 12 million taxpayers from the law’s new taxes, and still reduce federal deficits by $1.7 trillion, simply by refusing to establish Exchanges or expand Medicaid.”
Rejecting these elements of ObamaCare would be significant. It would have a profound effect on the budget and save jobs in the process. ObamaCare may be around for the next four years, but it doesn’t mean that states can’t do something about it.
You can read the full whitepaper below.