Rising ER Visits Latest Obamacare Undoing

Review Journal – Unintended consequences are one thing. Broken promises are another. But it requires a special blend of arrogance and incompetence to craft a law that accomplishes precisely the opposite of what it was supposed to do — a law that significantly worsens the problems it was supposed to fix.

This is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, a law passed on a party-line vote and imposed upon a population that didn’t want it in the first place.

The latest Obamacare debacle is unfolding in emergency rooms across the country. The Democrats who wrote Obamacare wanted to relieve ER crowding by diverting low-income and uninsured patients with minor ailments and injuries to urgent care centers. It was a worthy goal because emergency room and hospital care costs far more than diagnosis and treatment at a doctor’s office. Not only were the poor and uninsured driving up hospital costs — emergency rooms must treat patients regardless of their condition or ability to pay — they were driving up wait times for everyone, including people with legitimate medical emergencies.

The ACA’s provisions to expand Medicaid enrollment and provide subsidized, private health insurance to low-income workers were supposed to give millions of Americans the means to afford doctor visits — unlike emergency rooms, doctors can refuse to see patients who cannot pay.

However, as critics of the legislation warned five years ago, doctors are under no obligation to see Medicaid patients and accept the state-federal program’s bottom-barrel reimbursements. Moreover, a national shortage of primary care doctors meant there was an inadequate supply of physicians to take on millions of newly insured people and provide the law’s mandated zero-co-pay well checks. And because Obamacare requires insurers to provide coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, people can wait to purchase insurance until after they get sick if they can’t afford or simply don’t want to pay premiums.

And so it came as no surprise last week when USA Today reported that, far from easing ER access, crowding at emergency rooms has become even worse at hospitals across the country. According to the report, that increase is driven by Medicaid patients, who were frequent ER users even before the passage of Obamacare. Medicaid patients are less likely to be responsible health care consumers because their no-premium benefits are funded by taxpayers.

Obamacare was supposed to insure the uninsured. Instead, it canceled the coverage of millions of insured Americans. Obamacare was supposed to reduce household premiums by thousands of dollars. Instead, insurance costs have spiked, doubling or tripling premiums for some. Obamacare was supposed to reduce health care costs. Instead, it increased deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. Obamacare was supposed to improve consumer choice. Instead, it has shrunken provider networks across the country and forced untold numbers of people to find new doctors.

Now we have increased ER waits. What opposite effect comes next? You know more are on the way.

The same Democratic lawmakers and president who brought you Obamacare want the chance to increase the minimum wage, impose an “equal pay” mandate, clamp down on carbon emissions and rewrite immigration laws. At no harm to your wallet. The warnings of job losses and increased costs are cynical partisan threats.

They said that about Obamacare criticism, too, didn’t they?

Americans should be wary of any politician, of any party, who makes grand promises through grand legislation. Obamacare is a lesson to all: Less is more.

Congress should clean up its own mess before it tries to “fix” anything else. Repeal Obamacare.