Remember when grassroots conservatives were fired up about fighting ObamaCare?
Despite some repeal battles still being bandied about in Congress, ObamaCare does not seem to be defining the Republican primary in the way that it dominated the discourse during the 2010 tea party sweep of the House and the 2014 GOP takeover of the Senate.
Perhaps it’s about timing. After all, conservatives haven’t been able to defund the law despite an insistence from some corners of the movementthat such a feat was possible with a sitting Democratic president.
And the two cases challenging ObamaCare that made it to the Supreme Court ultimately favored the White House. Meanwhile, despite the fact that various strong policy alternatives to ObamaCare exist, the Republican Party at-large hasn’t coalesced around a specific replacement for the law.
Yet as furor over ObamaCare has been pushed to the political back-burner, many key predictions made by the law’s critics about its impending failures are coming true.
Brian Blase, a contributor to Forbes’ health care reform series The Apothecary, explained in an article published this week, just 10 million people are now expected to enroll in ObamaCare next year; only half the number the Congressional Budget Office projected a mere four months ago.
Blase said, “While there are several factors that explain how the expert community likely erred so significantly (in its enrollment predictions), the most plausible explanation is that exchange plans are much less attractive than experts had projected.”
This is particularly concerning, seeing as the unwieldy law did far more than simply create a now-failing federally subsidized exchange to complement a thriving private market. One of the reasons ObamaCare has been unpopular is precisely because the president’s original promise that everyone could keep their existing health care plans turned out to be false.
In fact, several million people have lost their plans as a direct result of the anti-market provisions that ban insurance policies the government deemed insufficient. All the while, undesirable plans are subsidized by taxpayers who don’t want them, and uninsured individuals are fined for refusing to purchase sub-par, highly regulated insurance.
Additionally, due largely to ObamaCare, federal regulations and their cost to the economy have skyrocketed. In 2013, now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell printed out the 20,000 pages of regulations associated with ObamaCare, noting that there would be more to come; a promise that has, as a matter of course, been fulfilled.
And like all regulations, these come with a cost to the economy.
Regulation Rodeo, a recently launched project of the American Action Forum that tracks the costs associated with ever-increasing regulatory burdens, provides the public with data that shows just how bogged down the economy has become in the years since ObamaCare has passed.
For example, in the four years prior to ObamaCare’s passage, 2006-2009, the cost per year of federal regulations surrounding health care amounted to an average of $3.1 billion. Paperwork hours per year were at 5.9 million, and the cost per regulation was $80.9 million.
These numbers seem high enough. Yet consider what has happened since ObamaCare’s implementation.
Regulation Rodeo shows the cost per year of federal health regulations between 2010 and 2015 now averages $10.3 billion. Paperwork hours have increased to 17.8 million per year, and the cost per regulation is an eye-popping $313.1 million. And we haven’t even made it to the end of 2015 yet.
While these numbers may seem arbitrary on their face, they represent the growth of bureaucracy at the expense of average Americans. Middle class consumers, particularly those in the individual market, are in most cases paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars more for lesser health care—all as a direct result of ObamaCare’s regulatory maze.
As Blase wrote at Forbes, “The fact that people find exchange plans so much less attractive than experts assumed when the law was passed will hopefully convince some supporters of (ObamaCare) that the law needs to be revisited, and likely fundamentally changed.”
Hopefully. But with a Democrat in the White House, don’t hold your breath.