|ObamaCare Debate Waives Goodbye to Rule of Law|
By Ashton Ellis
Tuesday, May 17 2011
Implementing the various command-and-control features of ObamaCare is proving to be as damaging to the rule of law as was its passage.
In a fine piece of journalism, the Daily Caller shows that 38 of the 204 new ObamaCare waivers issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in April 2011 went to swanky San Francisco nightclubs, spas and hotels in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) district.
While the owner of Tru Spa said that ObamaCare has “been bad for us” and along with new local laws “devastated” his business, every other manager or owner contacted refused to state their reasons for seeking an exemption. Of course, all accepted them.
When ObamaCare was nearing its rules-breaking deem-and-passage in the House of Representatives, then-Speaker Pelosi infamously admitted that voters and businesses would have to wait until the bill became law in order to “find out what is in it.” Fourteen months later, even Pelosi’s fellow limousine liberals are looking for off-ramps on the road to nationalized health care.
With her ability to help HHS pick winners and losers, it’s too bad Pelosi doesn’t represent Carlsbad, NM, where Joanne D. Knox runs Lakeview Christian Home. A nursing, retirement and community living home, Lakeview is a 501(c)(3) non-profit trying “to provide spiritual, medical, social, emotional, and physical support for the elderly in a Christian environment.” To fund this ambitious goal, Knox must pay salaries and bills with the below-market reimbursements provided by Medicaid and Medicare.
One real world decision Knox made was to increase an employee’s monthly contribution for health care coverage from zero to 4.3 percent, or $25 of the monthly $585 premium. For a Lakeview employee making $10 an hour – twice the federal minimum wage and 50 percent higher than New Mexico’s wage floor – the price of employer-backed individual coverage amounts to 2.5 hours of work a month. However, of Knox’s 200 employees, only 87 choose to buy coverage, she tells The New York Times.
According to the Times, the average nursing home worker makes between $10 and $12 an hour – well above federal and state minimum wage levels. So, at 40 hours a week, a full-time worker at the lower rate would net $1,600 a month. Over the course of a year, this means an average nursing home worker makes $19,200 before taxes (but would likely pay no income tax for failure to meet the threshold).
When ObamaCare is implemented in 2014, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer “affordable” coverage or face the possibility of being fined.
Here is ObamaCare’s definition of affordable coverage: when an employee’s share of the premium is lower than 9.5 percent of his or her household income. Anything in excess of 9.5 percent is liable to be fined. So far so good for employers like Lakeview because at $25 a month, the plan Knox is offering to workers right now is a steal compared to the $152 a month she could be charging (9.5 percent of $1,600).
And yet, 113 Lakeview employees are choosing not to pay the $25 monthly premium. Presumably, most have good reasons. Perhaps the money is needed elsewhere in the person’s budget. Maybe someone in reasonably good health prefers to spend his or her $25 on vitamins instead of insuring against a hospital visit.
The Times quoted a nursing professor at the University of California, San Francisco as saying she thought uninsured nursing home workers is “scandalous.” No, what’s scandalous is a law fraudulently passed in Congress, implemented at whim by the executive and failing to account for market forces like employer generosity and individual discretion.
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