Robert Bennett: Making our own spending decisions: The Affordable Care Act's folly

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  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    April 15, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    In principle, I agree with one of Bennett’s main points: let employees decide what kind of coverage they want to buy. I’d be in favor of removing the tax incentives and ObamaCare penalties that encourage employers to offer health insurance benefits.

    However, there still needs to be standards into what plans will be available. Just as you can’t buy an auto without seat belts, you shouldn’t be able to buy health insurance without a basic set of essential coverage.

    If it is reasonable to require pacifists to pay huge dollars to support the military-industrial complex, it is reasonable to expect Christians to pay a few pennies for insurance coverage that offers birth control. If Hobby Lobby wins this, it will set an interesting precedent that would allow people to selectively choose which laws they will obey and which taxes they will pay based on their religious beliefs.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    April 15, 2014 4:53 a.m.

    GaryO Destroying the ACA would be a good thing, in fact, a patriotic thing. The founders would have rolled over in their graves if they had known about the ACA (which by the way, is NOT affordable). As I mentioned, it was passed in a most partisan, crooked, scandalous and unpatriotic way; is now being administered incompetently; and it has already spawned many forseen, and unforseen, unintended and bad consequences, including lessening the # of full time jobs, and people losing their insurance (more have lost it than have gained it, and most enrollees now were already covered before, until the ACA made them lose their coverage. Don't let Obama bamboozle you. He hasn't even said how many enrollees have paid. Just like how he counts the unemployment rate: he omits those who have given up looking just to make his #s look better.). And more bad consequences to come. Whenever a law this big is passed, unintended consequences will occur. It will invite fraud, waste, inefficiency and abuse. That's what big, controlling govt. does. Look at Soviet Russia.

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2014 6:38 p.m.

    The ACA will reduce the deficit. The numbers are in and its a success. Is the GOP going pay medical costs when they take away millions of peoples insurance?

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    April 14, 2014 6:12 p.m.

    Being for freedom in the health insurance market is great. As long as that freedom absolutely guarantees two things.

    First, that I can get reasonably priced insurance despite any preexisting conditions. If I can’t then that freedom is valuable only to the healthy and/or wealthy.

    Second, that I will never pay a red cent for someone who chooses to go without insurance. Because if they do not have insurance and they, their spouse, their child, etc. contracts some heinous condition then it’s time to:
    A)Take to the airwaves and beg for money (so now strangers should pay your healthcare costs)
    B)Apply as a charity case to the hospital which one way or another costs me (either as a patient or taxpayer)
    C)Declare bankruptcy (see B – the unpaid costs get distributed to the rest of us

    Simply put, if you don’t have at least half a million in quick assets, you are not self-insured. You are banking on luck. Maybe your luck may hold. If not, others get to pay your bills.

    And no, health insurance is not healthcare. But you need money to get good and consistent healthcare.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    April 14, 2014 5:39 p.m.

    VST -

    Sounds like we have a communications problem here.

    You appear to believe I found fault with existing governance on this issue.

    I did not. Bennet did, and I disagreed with Bennet.

    . . Perhaps your comments were meant to be directed at him?

  • malcolm11 Provo, UT
    April 14, 2014 5:00 p.m.

    Senator Bennett has proposed a very sensible solution to the issues raised by Hobby Lobby and others. It is so simple, I wish our current representatives and senators would champion it. It preserves individual freedom, allows folks (not Government or employers) to decide what medical coverages they want and need, and prevents both Government and employers from forcing unwanted and unneeded coverage on any of us. Hooray for Bennett!

  • Wasatch Front Salt Lake , UT
    April 14, 2014 4:54 p.m.

    This is a straw man argument to score a political point, if there ever was one. Health care is a moral decision, if you chose to make it one, only for the person who is receiving the care. The employer is not responsible, nor is she being asked to make health care decisions for her employees. No one is being forced to accept any medical treatment or procedure they do not want or need. This is about individual choice: giving the employee the freedom to choose the treatment or procedure he or she needs or wants. The employer’s religious preferences cannot dictate what health care the patient can or cannot have. If your employer is a Seventh Day Adventist, should you not be able to receive medical health care.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 14, 2014 4:17 p.m.

    Let's be done with it. Let's turn all business over to the government. Let's let the government tell us what we are worth and what we will be paid. Let's let the government take from one person and give to another. Let's put the Marxist theory to the real test. Let's see what happens when incentive is removed. Let's let the government force its religion on us. Let's let the government define God and marriage and family.

    But, first, show me the bill of sale where the government BOUGHT each business.

    Show me where the government obtained the right to dictate religion when the 1st Amendment prohibits government from legislating laws pertaining to religion.

    Show me where the government obtained the right to transfer assets from one "class" of people to another without due process, in opposition to the 5th and 14th Amendments .

    Show me where the Federal Government has any right to do anything that Obama is doing. He, being a "Contitutional Expert" should have at least read the Constitution before seizing property and passing laws that violate our religious freedoms.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 14, 2014 2:49 p.m.

    "When you have real freedom, it stops when you can't get anyone to come work for your company because the health benefits you are offering are not what your employees want."

    JoeCap, I agree in principle with you. However, healthcare is something that if you cant pay for it, the taxpayer does. ETMALA was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. He, and most of the country were not ready to let people die just because they did not have the financial resources to afford healthcare.

    So, Obamacare, and the heritage foundation plan (with GOP support) seek to push those who can afford to pay something from just relying completely on the taxpayer.

  • techpubs Sioux City, IA
    April 14, 2014 2:38 p.m.

    The logical way to handle many of the types of coverage that the PPACA was written to make mandatory could have been more easily handled by allowing people to add them as riders to their basic policy if they needed them. That way women who were no longer capable of becoming pregnant as well as homosexual men and their partners would not have to have maternity coverage, grandparents would not have to have pediatric coverage et cetera.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    April 14, 2014 2:07 p.m.

    @marxist "Individuals and families buy their own health insurance. But we know such will price at least half of the population out of the health care market."

    Health insurance is not the same thing as health care. A family that goes to the doctor as needed -- and pays for its visits out of pocket -- is participating in the health care market. Many of the uninsured who cannot afford health insurance are taking care of their needs in this way. These families would be better served by low prices than by a handout. But Obamacare is pushing prices up.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    April 14, 2014 2:05 p.m.

    Esquire. I do research every day. Its called experience in paying other people's bills though ever higher taxes, hence, single payer.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    April 14, 2014 1:24 p.m.

    RG –

    Bennet’s plan does NOTHING to quell the employer’s objections as to how that money is spent. When the employer gives “’benefit’ money directly to its employees,” the employer is still funding a practice (birth control) that the employer finds reprehensible. And the individual mandate cannot guarantee the employee would actually use that money for health insurance.

    Bennet’s plan succeeds only in adding another complication to the ACA, a completely unnecessary complication. Sorry RG, but Bennet’s plan makes no sense UNLESS the real idea is to weaken the ACA and make it failure prone.

    Bennet’s plan, if enacted would be bad for the ACA and bad for America. And maybe that’s what Bennet really has in mind. A weak and ineffective ACA would be much easier to overturn.

    Face it RG. Republicans focus on obstruction and destruction. It’s relatively easy, and it’s really all they’re good at.

    Thank goodness for Obama and the Democrats . . . and their patriotism, wisdom, dedication, and can-do ethic.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2014 1:17 p.m.

    OK, so Senator Bennett is asking for a market solution to health care. Individuals and families buy their own health insurance. But we know such will price at least half of the population out of the health care market. If we go this route, the inclusion of Marxian analysis is more important than ever. Marx's surplus value theory must be given a hearing in mainstream economics which will evaluate health insurance options. Economics has botched this in part because of Marx's absence. I don't imagine my advice will be heeded, because so few have ever read "Capital" or think it is necessary to do so.

    I've never believed among economists Marx is the whole story - far from it. But his analysis is critically important.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    April 14, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    JoeBlow: "Should a business owner be allowed to cover only... Where does it stop?"

    When you have real freedom, it stops when you can't get anyone to come work for your company because the health benefits you are offering are not what your employees want. Same way it "stops" for other things like low wages, bad working hours, and uninteresting work.

    It works just like a free consumer market where there are lots of choices and those who build shabby or overpriced products are eliminated from the marketplace by low sales.

    But a progressive system that "locks you in" to high prices and bad options under threat of the full weight of government control and personal mandates, is much better, right?

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    April 14, 2014 12:49 p.m.

    I agree that employers should not be saddled with providing healthcare insurance. But government, local, state and/or federal, provides for education and why should healthcare insurance be any different? Education does not lend itself to a private market scenario with any sense of equity and neither does healthcare insurance. If Obamacare doesn't have the answers then take a closer look at Romneycare. Romney seems to have been right on a lot of things so why not consider his ideas on healthcare.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2014 12:37 p.m.

    @Thid Barker
    Single payer is like Medicare. Obamacare is not single payer at all since it involves the private marketplace.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    April 14, 2014 12:36 p.m.

    Esquire: How about this? Why is it that those who want government run healthcare, and most everything else, can't answer the question--what about those of us that like freedom? If you can answer that one maybe those of us who like freedom and don't want the government telling us what we can and can't do, we would support your idea. But, nobody can answer it--ever! No one has an answer because I don't think they understand the concept of freedom and what it really means. Freedom has risks and we accept that! Maybe that's what those of you who want government in everything can't deal with--risk! There are real consequences when you are given a choice. I like that! I will never change. I accept the consequences of my choices! How about you? Most of you who advocate for ACA won't even touch that question because you don't want to deal with the answer! It's worth it! Get in the game. Sometimes you lose, sometimes you win, but either way, it is the only way to play the game!!!!!!!

  • Daniel L. Murray, UT
    April 14, 2014 11:39 a.m.

    I agree with Mr. Bennett, as one responsible for shopping and purchasing group health insurance for my company, I think it is crazy. I don't tell my employees what type of car and life insurance to buy, and yet I am stuck in the middle of personal life decisions about health and dental insurance for my employees. Believe it or not, the owners of companies do pick the insurance policies they agree with, because that is exactly what I do.
    If there were a change in the tax code, shifting tax breaks from companies to individuals, for health and dental insurance premiums. Our national conversation on this topic would be wholly different.
    Every group of individuals has its own differing set of priorities and beliefs. It is the freedom of association, freedom of religion, and free speech that we inherently have in this great country.
    So why do we keep trying to limit these freedoms? Change the tax code, and let each one associate how they want.
    Insurance for the poor, does not mean we have to destroy our rights!

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 14, 2014 11:14 a.m.

    @ Thid Barker, learn about the other systems. We don't have a single payers system. Besides, the Bush prescription drug program is a financial disaster for the taxpayers. Go do some research.

  • Mikhail ALPINE, UT
    April 14, 2014 10:44 a.m.

    A point that makes sense, but that Mr. Bennett did not take far enough, is the issue as to tax treatment of insurance premiums. The system has been that the premiums become tax free if offered by an employer, but are not tax free if they are otherwise. The free market solution would be to give the same tax exempt status to all health insurance premium payments - or none at all.

    Part of the distortion, which Mr. Bennett points out, is that people feel like they have been getting something at the cost of their employer, when the fact is they have been paying for it all along.

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    April 14, 2014 10:23 a.m.

    Esquire. We already have single payer healthcare. Its called Medicaid and Obamacare! Those with current healthcare insurance pays for everyone else! What more do you want?

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    April 14, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    To GaryO,
    “Businesses have NO business intruding into the lives of other people, INCLUDING their employees.”
    No, Bennett’s point is that businesses should not be providing any health insurance for their employees; the employees should buy their own. Just like we buy our own car insurance. Since when did your boss tell you what car insurance you have to get?

    BTW, Why does Obamacare fully cover even cheap contraception (which I can afford to pay out of my pocket), but not fully cover life-saving antibiotics?

    “The Founders created the Constitution to give us good GOVERNANCE and that is exactly what the Obama administration does.”

    Let’s see…targeting the IRS to conservatives, letting people die in Benghazi and then covering it up with a lie about a video, fast and furious, giving govt. $ to one’s pals in Solyndra and then losing the investment, wasting other $billions and passing Obamacare in the least transparent method possible with backroom deals and exemptions for Obama’s friends, and then botching its rollout, and then changing the law by presidential decree making it up as he goes…this is incompetent and fraudulent government. Why is that so hard to understand?

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 14, 2014 9:53 a.m.

    What an odd twist of an argument. Let's do this and be done with it. Universal health care. Like the rest of the world. No religious considerations. No nonsensical arguments. No twisting and turning ourselves into pretzels. The debate over the ACA just won't go away, even though it is a modest program in its results. I am tired of it. The GOP offers nothing, not a thing, by way of resolution. The current system is absurd, in large part due to the Bush medicare prescription rip-off. We are run by special interests and paying dearly for this incredible mess of a system, and as a result, effectively subsidizing the rest of the world. Rather than keep attacking the ACA, why don't you actually come up with something? We get nothing, nothing, nothing. Except more political games, intended to sow discontent in order to acquire power, and wealth for yourselves and your associates. I have had enough! From Bob Bennett, The DesNews, The GOP, the whole lot of you. You serve yourselves and not the people. If you served the people, you would actually offer something substantive of value. You don't. Just more whining.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2014 9:34 a.m.

    In their hatred of Obamacare (a plan with conservative origins) the Republicans are slowly moving towards supporting a Single Payer solution (a traditionally liberal plan).

  • Thid Barker Victor, ID
    April 14, 2014 9:21 a.m.

    Hutterite. You missed the most important part of Obamacare; forcing some people to pay higher premiums, higher co-pays and higher deductibles so a few others can get something for nothing! Shhh, not suppose to talk about the millions of Americans who are being forced to work for that which they will not receive so others can receive without working! We used to call that slavery but today we call it "social justice".

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    April 14, 2014 9:11 a.m.

    No. The real issue is 'why do employers have anything to do with health care'? Health care is an imperative for a healthy, functional society. It is a condition necessary to empower people, according to the Pope. One thing is for sure, it isn't something the average person can make a reasonable decision for themselves on when they truly need it, nor is it something that all but the very rich can afford on their own. And it's not a pawn in somebody's religious agenda, that's for sure.

  • anotherview SLO, CA
    April 14, 2014 8:58 a.m.

    There is no proof that the morning after pills disrupt implantation of a fertilized egg. The FDA literature on the possible "thinning of the lining of the endometrium" also applies to monthly birth control pills, which Hobby Lobby does not oppose.

    According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the Becket Fund initiated Hobby Lobby's lawsuit, ie. contacted Hobby Lobby, informed them of the cobtraceptive mandate, and offered to represent them in a lawsuit. The Becket Fund is now representing the Greens in their lawsuit against the mandate.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, a member of DN's editorial advisory board works for the Becket Fund.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 14, 2014 8:28 a.m.

    This whole flap, for most people, is more about partisanship than "religious conviction".

    One must look at the bigger picture to come to a reasonable solution. It is easy to separate out this one thing and make a reasonable case against requiring contraception coverage.

    This should be viewed more as, "do we allow each employer to pick and choose what coverage they want offered".

    Think of the ramifications of that.

    Should a business owner be allowed to cover only the birth of the first child? Or deny transfusion coverage? Or deny lung cancer coverage for smokers? Or deny aides coverage?

    Where does it stop?

    Think about what constitutions "religious conviction". Or even what constitutes a "religion"

    I could probably find or invent a religion, and pick and choose coverages based on my criteria.

    Lastly, Bennett states that "They also claim it is something all of the employees want."
    I am quite sure that no one said that. It would be ludicrous. To state that "most employees want it" would certainly be true.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    April 14, 2014 8:14 a.m.

    The real issue is whether citizens can summon enough courage and sense of self-worth to demand that government allow them to make their own decisions about everything, except the basic common Constitutional provisions laid out 225 years ago. How simple can it get? How liberating! Imagine, a country where government believes that people aren't just pawns to be played upon? Imagine, a country where citizens were thought of as competent, capable, thinking individuals? Wow, now that is a country I can believe in and want to get up and go to work!

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 14, 2014 8:12 a.m.

    Mr. Bennett is correct! This is just more government bullying. Vote out the Obamacare bullies in November!

  • rwils Provo, UT
    April 14, 2014 7:59 a.m.

    Agreed, arod. We Americans do love choice, at least most of us, which is why it is puzzling that we elect a government that feels the need to make our choices for us. I wish both the government and the people recognized more fully our innate capacity to make wise decisions and that both embraced the responsibility to do so.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    April 14, 2014 7:57 a.m.

    When people make a spending decision with the thought in mind that a third party will be helping them pay, they purchase more goods. With the increase in demand come higher prices. If we want to control costs in health care, we should place the responsibility to pay back on the consumer of the service. People tend to be more careful with their own money.

    For catastrophes, there is insurance. For our daily consumption of health care services, there is no need for a third party to be involved -- neither employer nor government.

    When Congress decided a long time ago to reward employers with a tax credit for insuring their employees, they created a market distortion. Subsequent attempts to control health care costs have all moved in the wrong direction. Now we have Obamacare making things worse, driving costs even higher. Single payer won't be the answer either. Freedom is what we want.

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    April 14, 2014 7:56 a.m.

    This opinion piece has a good point. The tax free employer provided insurance system is a problem. It distorts everything.

    However, the opinion piece is full of malarkey. There is no workable system wherein we can design a system in which one's preferences (or lack thereof) for cafeteria style insurance can be satisfied economically. Everyone should either have insurance or be given insurance. We will all need to be taken care of at some point in the future, and it is fundamentally unfair to have the rest of us pay for your health care when you don't bother to obtain it or pay for it.

    Yet this simple fact, and the cogent argument fails to move the far right. Just what planet do you live on if you expect something for nothing and expect the rest of us to pick up the tab for your health needs? Do you really want to establish a "let 'em bleed in the streets" mentality for those foolish enough or poor enough to lack health coverage? Otherwise, we all end up paying for it one way or another, and that is the crux of the matter.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    April 14, 2014 7:46 a.m.

    I think that the senator is missing the point of opposition to Hobby Lobby's law suit.

    Hobby Lobby wants to tailor their employees coverage based on the owners religious beliefs. (Although their 401K plans are invested in pharmaceutical companies that manufacture contraceptives!) Opposition to their claims are not based on bigotry against religion, but on the legal can of worms it would open up if Hobby Lobby wins.

    Some religious sects reject modern medicine in favor of prayer, would they be exempt from the ACA? What about Jehovahs Witnesses, could they reject any portion of medical coverage that has to do with blood transfusions?

    Why the sudden interest in the minutia of contraception coverage? I think this whole birth control coverage argument is an effort to weaken the dreaded Obamacare!

  • arod Ogden, UT
    April 14, 2014 7:15 a.m.

    Brilliant! Is this not a marvelous idea that a vast majority in Congress could agree on? We Americans love choice.

  • cmsense Kaysville, UT
    April 14, 2014 6:43 a.m.

    Well said except one key component of insurance is not being able to pick and choose when you want insurance benefits such as pregnancy otherwise its not a true insurance market. If people are allowed to just choose maternity coverage when they plan on a pregnacy, the math doesn't work out. Its not cable where you can have all la cart pricing. Ex. I predict I won't have any orthopedic issues this year, or maybe I'll wait till I'm 65 to pick up cardiac coverage. Hey, my blood pressure is low so I don't think I'll have a stroke so I'll drop neurology and hypertension coverage. I'm only prediabetic, so I won't pick up diabetes coverage for a couple years. Why pay for that? Health issues aren't always predicable and insurance doesn't work if people can game the system. Al la cart healthcare wouldn;t work well. Also women would pay a lot more for coverage due to pregnancy, higher rates for depression, etc. There does need to be a core benefits package but I'd agree pediatric dental coverage and contraception could be optional.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    April 14, 2014 6:41 a.m.

    too little too late, but at least he represents what most Americans have realized, the ACA is a train wreck that a blind man that couldn't hear, smell, or think would have seen a continent away. Unfortunate, but perhaps liberty, the Constitution, and God are making a comeback!

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    April 14, 2014 4:34 a.m.

    “The real issue is, ‘Can the government impose its religious beliefs on employees?’”

    No Mr Bennet. The very basic issue is “Why do “Conservatives” only want to obstruct and destroy, and why can they offer NO sensible solutions to anything?

    Businesses have NO business intruding into the lives of other people, INCLUDING their employees.
    The Founders created the Constitution to give us good GOVERNANCE and that is exactly what the Obama administration does. The Constitution says nothing to suggest the Hobby Lobby can tell people what to do in their private lives. The Hobby Lobby can abide by the law, just like everyone else.

    And no, a good health care law does NOT give out free money to be used at the discretion of citizens.

    The ACA is about health care. It’s not about handing out money. Why is that so hard to understand?