April 8, 2011

How Obamacare strokes the fatcats

By How Obamacare strokes the fatcats

Author: Timothy Sandefur

Cato’s Michael Tanner has an excellent article here on how the Obama Administration’s health care law is a huge boon to politically well-connected big businesses—and not in just the obvious fact that the Individual Mandate requires every American to buy insurance from a private company:

An 18-month congressional probe found that the AARP stands to make $55 million to $166 million in one year alone from seniors switching from Medicare Advantage to AARP Medigap plans. Over the next 10 years, it would earn more than $1 billion from new customers. Business is good if you can get the government to put your competitors out of business.

The AARP isn’t the only big ObamaCare winner to come to light in the last few days. A hearing by the House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations disclosed that labor unions and big businesses — including General Electric, Verizon, AT&T and IBM — have received nearly $1.9 billion in payments under the new health-care law to help offset health-insurance costs for early retirees.

The biggest single recipient: the United Auto Workers, which got nearly $207 million in taxpayer money. By the time the feds finish handing out funds to well-connected companies and unions, it's expected to have cost taxpayers $5 billion.

The program doesn’t even require companies or unions to demonstrate any “financial need” for the subsidy. As a result, it enables companies to incentivize early retirement for older employees, saving the companies money and improving their balance sheets — with taxpayers footing the bill.

And then there’s the Individual Mandate. The Obama Administration could have provided health care to every American by simply taxing us all and then using that money to run government-operated hospitals. We already do that, in the form of the Veterans Administration hospitals. Of course, they didn’t have the votes for that (in part, because we all know how great VA hospitals are), so instead they forced insurance companies to insure everyone, and then subsidized the cost of that by forcing us all to buy insurance from a private company. This has the added advantage that when the system fails, the bureaucrats can blame the fat cats for their greed, and the fat cats can blame the bureaucrats for their meddling, and nothing will actually change.

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