Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

EDITORIAL: Obamacare imposes farmer tax on pre-existing ZIP codes

The Gazette editorial Updated: April 3, 2014 at 10:00 am

Despite President Barack Obama's Rose Garden jubilation Tuesday, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act continues as a colossal policy failure. It neither protects patients nor provides affordable care for a majority of Americans. But it might secure even more support for Democrats among voters in America's large cities. That's because The Great Divider's health care law has rural Americans, who tend to vote Republican, subsidizing urban counterparts who overwhelmingly support Democrats.

Tuesday's Democratic elation resulted from an estimate that says 7.1 million Americans managed to sign up for government-mandated health care policies as of the March 31 deadline. Presidential adviser David Axelrod characterized those who question White House figures about the rollout as a "black helicopter crowd." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Democrats are "proud" of the health care law and should campaign on its success going into November.

It sounds a bit absurd, considering a soon-to-be-released report by the Rand Corporation that was shared early with the Los Angeles Times. The report found only one-quarter of nearly 7 million exchange enrollees were previously uninsured. So, even after the president's victory lap, the Affordable Care Act has done nothing substantial to help the country's 50 million uninsured.

Americans who suffer from pre-existing ZIP codes are among those not celebrating. An Associated Press story this week told how farmers and other rural Americans have seen enormous increases in health insurance premiums, with costs more than doubling in some cases. The AP spoke to a self-employed writer in rural Nevada who expects his premium to go from $400 a month to more than $1,000 a month under Obamacare. He can't afford the increase and plans to move his family to Uruguay.

The AP's research found the cheapest mid-level exchange policy costing $280 a month in Denver, with the identical plan costing $483 for residents of equal economic standing in a nearby rural area.

Obamacare was supposed to ease burdens for most Americans, if not all. Health care would be manna from Washington. Instead, the law has merely reallocated costs. While Obamacare has mitigated high insurance costs among chosen winners, it has imposed additional burden on chosen losers who are ordered to subsidize the winners.

The health care law is entirely the product of Democrats. The country's vast rural areas predominantly vote Republican. Rare exceptions include glamorous rural enclaves, such as Colorado's Pitkin County - home to Aspen and its collection of left-leaning movie stars.

Aspen, along with a few other rural enclaves of the rich and famous in Colorado's House District 2, is represented by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis. The Boulder Democrat appealed to U.S. Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to grant a rural Obamacare waiver. Even some of his constituents can't afford the law.

"I'm somewhat frustrated that there are waivers being extended to small- and mid-size businesses, yet individuals are being faced with costs they can't afford," Polis said, as quoted by the AP.

Regardless of website performance, or how many obey the mandate, Obamacare creates nothing. It merely reallocates resources and costs. Each winner gains at the cost of a chosen loser. For a president who's supposed to represent all Americans, this should not be cause for rejoice.

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