State Representative Greg MacMaster (R-105) has provided a little insight to the past year's health care debate, and his participation in the process.
"Bait and switch," a term he uses to describe the promises and ultimate product, is no stranger to any government program designed to help so many. He writes:
"In 2012, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the United States leads the world in health care research and disease treatment.
For the 85% of Americans that have health insurance, the access they have to cutting edge, life saving technologies is among the very best in the world.
But not every American has insurance, with upwards of 49 million being uninsured, according to the 2010 Census.
The question for policy makers in Lansing and in Washington should be what to do to help the 15% gain access to the quality care that the rest of us have.
Unfortunately, Washington and Lansing's answer has been to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
In 2010, Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the widely unpopular and flawed Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Among the provisions of this act is enticing Michigan to put an additional 300,000 citizens on Medicaid with the promise that the federal government would pay for taxpayers' additional costs.
When the expansion was first voted on in the House, I supported it. This wasn't really Obamacare, we were told. This was Michigan getting its fair share back from Washington.
It initially seemed like a good deal for Michigan taxpayers, who receive back only $0.80 for every tax dollar they send to Washington.
But there was more to the bill.
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There is ALWAYS more when it comes to government largess. MacMaster continues:
"Michigan, indeed, would receive billions of dollars from Washington to pay for Medicaid expansion. However, this return of our tax dollars was only temporary. There were strings attached.
After three years, Michigan taxpayers would be forced to pay at least $300 million a year more than they're currently spending on Medicaid. That's money that won't be spent on roads, schools or anything else.
Further, the Medicaid expansion proposal is an open-ended commitment and the Michigan Legislature cannot slow spending increases without Washington's approval.
It was a classic `bait and switch.'
As more facts came to light, my opinion of the bill changed. And, in September, I changed my vote and voted against Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. I was the only House member to change their vote. I'm proud that I did.
In the weeks since, Obamacare's online Health Insurance Marketplace has been unveiled. It's been a disaster.
Simply put, the website doesn't work, despite government spending that's topped $1 billion, according to Bloomberg Government analyst Peter Gosselin.
Additionally, many middle class families are discovering Obamacare is causing their health plans to become more expensive, not less, according to a recent Los Angeles Times report.
But it gets even worse. Despite President Obama's promise that people could "keep their current coverage if they like it," CBS News reported this week that already more than two million Americans have been informed that they cannot renew their current health care policies. That figure includes 140,000 here in Michigan.
Just as I reconsidered my position once new information came to light, Obamacare's supporters should take the policy's multiple failures as an opportunity to reconsider their position.
Do Washington and Lansing really need to spend upwards of $1 trillion, create 20,000 new rules and regulations, dramatically expand the scope and power of the Internal Revenue Service, throw more than two million Americans off of their current coverage plans and upend a health care insurance system that's working for 17 out of 20 Americans - just to extend coverage to the remaining three?
We need to find a better way, and there's nothing wrong with being flexible and changing one's mind as new information is discovered.
The health care of our citizens is too important for elected officials - be they Republicans or Democrats - to be ideologically rigid and locked in to a bad vote they cast in the past.
With the health care of 317 million Americans and one-seventh of our national economy at stake, we owe it to taxpayers and health care users to take the time and get health care policy right.
Greg MacMaster represents the 105th District in the Michigan State House.