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One year later; Corrections suggest health reform will be much costlier than claimed

It's been just a year since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed. If ever a law was misnamed, this is it. It weakens patient protection and is hugely costly.

The country is currently drowning in the costs of three programs: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Obamacare is very likely to become the fourth, and a real back-breaker.

When you start messing around with U.S. health care, you are not tinkering around the edges of a multibillion-dollar program. Health care in the United States represents one-sixth of our economy.

The longer the law is on the books, the more realistic people are becoming about its actual costs. It is a badly conceived and written bill that President Obama forced through the Congress with an arbitrary deadline. It already has caused the administration to grant more than 1,000 waivers to unions, businesses and other organizations.

And what worries many is that it is not only costly, but also threatens to overwhelm our current system with a huge number of new people covered and controlled by bureaucrats.

The Congressional Budget Office, the independent agency that both parties are supposed to feel is nonpartisan, initially trumpeted how much money Obamacare was going to save. No longer. With each estimate, the law's costs increase. Now the CBO says that health insurance subsidies will cost at least $90 billion more over 10 years starting in 2012. And this is just the first correction.

The CBO also says the price of a family policy will be $2,100 higher by 2016 than if the law had never been passed. Former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin says the new subsidized federal health exchanges will make the law add more than $1 trillion to costs over the first 10 years.

Patient care is going to be threatened not only by the addition of 30 million more people being covered, but also by the natural result of baby boomers getting older, accessing more health care and requiring a great deal more attention by the medical community.

Obama didn't have to wander around in the dark to conceive a new medical program. He could have avoided a lot of mistakes by observing what the Massachusetts heath reform produced in 2006.

First of all, participation in health insurance programs in that state was already high, covering 88 percent of the populace. Its health reform had to deal with only the final 8 percent, far less than the federal government's share.

A lot of things that were supposed to materialize in Massachusetts never occurred. Emergency room visits were supposed to drop because everyone had insurance. They did not.

Newly insured individuals had to find more doctors. They weren't available, so the wait to get medical attention was very long.

Economists discovered that health insurance increased 6 percent to 7 percent beyond what it would have been without the law.

Perhaps the most significant finding was that the most important effects of the so-called reform came through unintended and unpredictable consequences.

It's a difficult enough game if you know what the results are going to be. Leaders in Massachusetts found out that they couldn't control the outcome.

The country needed -- and still needs -- health care reform. So, it is reasonable to ask why Obama is moving ahead so resolutely with this law when he can learn so much from the mistakes of Massachusetts.

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