McDonald's gives an ObamaCare lesson - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

McDonald's gives an ObamaCare lesson

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Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 2:15 am

Given their specialty of hamburgers, their drive-through catering to people in a hurry, their trans-fat retreat in response to activists wanting to dictate how the rest of us eat, McDonald's omnipresent restaurants sum up many things American. Add this to the list -- a brush with the business-busting insanity of ObamaCare.

It's true and still another signal among many that it's time to retire the power abusers who gave us this travesty parading as rescue. The story is this. McDonald's and 29 other entities faced having to drop a total of a million people from any health insurance coverage at all to avoid a demand by the new health law that they otherwise increase benefits for low-wage employees. They couldn't afford it and the government provided waivers negating its demands.

The incident recalls what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once said -- that the Democratic health-care remake had to be passed so everyone could find out what was in it. Even before enactment, with thousands of details still hidden, it was clear the concoction was going to be a massive mess, but the revelations since then have outdone the direst predictions. The capacity of this law for mayhem? Endless.

The McDonald's perplexity is just a start, but is worth focusing on for a second. Insurance benefits for the workers in question are meager, but the idea that the remedy is simply to force businesses to spend more is economic idiocy of the first order. The consequence could be layoffs or even eventual business failure, only here we also had the option of no employer-provided insurance at all, meaning that a law meant to extend coverage to more people could have eliminated coverage for many.

In four years, employers bowing out of such requirements would instead pay a lesser penalty helping to finance alternative organizations providing insurance. If that sounds like everything would then be hunky-dory, consider that the exchanges would also be heavily subsidized by the government, part of a new entitlement on top of the old entitlements of Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid that are already threatening an economy-devastating debt crisis.

The reprieve for McDonald's and the other businesses is just for a year, and meanwhile, some other companies big and small are already taking a hit financially while still others are inhibited from expansion by fear of how this law would then punish them even more. All of this comes at the worst possible time, helping to keep high jobless rates intact, but wait, there's more.

The demands of this law are pushing numbers of physician-owned and charitable hospitals to either fold their tents or become part of much bigger outfits. It's also reported that bankruptcies are likely to flow from attempts by ObamaCare to transform insurance companies into welfare agencies. Premiums are going up partly in response to the law and will likely go up considerably more if insurance companies are to stay alive. States that already have their backs to the wall are also going to have to pay a ton more into Medicaid.

Let's agree that the law does some good while agreeing as well that we could have gotten where we needed to go by prudent, relatively inexpensive, non-intrusive steps such as tort reform, allowing national insurance-company competition and gradually redirecting government subsidies of employer-provided insurance to individuals. Virtually everyone could have improved insurance at far less cost to consumers, businesses and the government than what we will get with ObamaCare, an extravagant welfare-state expansion of the sort much of Europe is now trying to undo before Europe itself is undone.

It's something to think about the next time you pass a McDonald's and also when you enter a voting booth this coming Tuesday.

Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.com.

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