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Opinion

Progressive malpractice that is Obamacare is more dangerous by the day

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At least the name sounded good. But it turns out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is a ticking time bomb.

The new law neither protects patients, nor makes health care affordable for them. The "affordable" label doesn't even apply to the overall cost of the law, which, after you strip away the budget gimmicks, the Congressional Budget Office now says will be nearly double compared to its original estimate.

Yet, while titles are harmless, details are not. And, as the specifics become clearer by the day, the progressives' dream of health care for all is beginning to look like a public nightmare. Just take a drive down Obama's boulevard of broken promises.

He pledged insurance premiums would drop by $2,500 per year. That's not happening. According to Politico, "HHS approved premium rate hikes of 26 percent in Alaska, 23.3 percent in Florida and 20.4 percent in Washington State. That's after approving a hike of 18 percent for a Montana insurer in November."

He promised, "if you like what you have, you can keep it." But employers are dropping or changing coverage all over the country, and the CBO just estimated that, in the most likely case, 3 million to 5 million fewer Americans would receive health insurance through an employer-provided plan.

Obamacare included a long-term care plan known as the CLASS Act that was supposed to reduce the deficit. But the administration cancelled the program because it was the health care equivalent of a Ponzi scheme.

As the new law gets implemented, there's yet another grim reality -- Obamacare is resulting in a massive federal takeover of the American health care system.

In its wake, it's producing an unprecedented assault on personal freedom and the doctor-patient relationship.

Consider the preventative health services rule, which requires nearly every employer provide contraceptive and sterilization services regardless of whether it violates religious beliefs. Even with the "accommodation," this policy steamrolls First Amendment protections.

Constitutional rights should not be mediated by the whims of a president or which party controls the White House. That's why I support codifying religious liberty through legislation, not presidential executive orders.

The so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board -- or IPAB -- is a direct attack on the doctor-patient relationship. We cannot allow 15 unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., to make decisions that should be left to patients and doctors. That's why the House is voting this week on bipartisan legislation to repeal the IPAB.

The Medicaid expansions, along with other federally subsidized programs, will force a growing number of Americans to rely on government for their health care. This approach produces dire consequences for our federal budget, but also limits the number of choices available to most Americans.

Finally, Obamacare suffers from another common Washington illness: liberal hubris, the idea that one federal law can fix all that ails our health care system. That's a fantasy.

A more thoughtful approach suggests focusing systematically on specific problems -- affordability, access, quality, and innovation, to name a few. It also allows us to gauge how well something's working and make needed adjustment along the way.

If not repealed and replaced with more market-oriented policies, Obamacare will dramatically increase government dependence, reduce individual freedoms, create unsustainable financial commitments, jeopardize the sustainability of Medicare, and fail to address the real issue that concerns most Americans -- affordability.

Part of the progressives' strategy behind Obamacare was to phase in its big government mandates and impact slowly -- a long fuse to a massive regulatory explosion. That blast is about to detonate. Responsible lawmakers have a moral obligation to defuse this health care tripwire.

Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton is Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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