By Abdul Hakim-Shabazz
Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org.
Although I’m an attorney, I try to pay attention to the trends and issues in other professions. With the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act, i.e. ‘Obamacare,’ my attention to late has been in the area of medicine.
I was looking at the Hippocratic Oath the other day and came across this line: “I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.” I bring this up because after looking at the impact of the health care law on Indiana, someone has failed to keep the Hoosier state safe from harm and injustice.
Now, before I am accused of going off on some far-right wing rant: I do not disagree entirely with the Supreme Court’s ruling. The penalty for not complying with the individual mandate is for all intents and purposes a tax, so if I were on the court, I would have likely concurred with Chief Justice John Roberts. And there are some benefits to Affordable Care Act that will be considered quite popular by the public.
According to HealthCareReform.gov, the benefits for Indiana include:
- A tax credit for close to 85,000 small businesses.
- Closing the donut hold in Medicare Part D for nearly 82,000 seniors.
- Health coverage for 103,000 early retirees who don’t qualify for Medicare.
- No lifetime limits on coverage.
- Allowing young adult Hoosiers to stay on their parents insurance until 26.
- Prohibiting denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The problem though, is one of the “benefits” of the act is also an expansion of Medicaid to virtually all low-income populations regardless of age, disability or family status. The federal government will pick up 100 percent of the tab to start, and in 2020 states will pick up 10 percent.
The problem with that 10 percent price tag is that it could end up taking a serious toll on the Indiana state budget. An analysis of the health care law back in 2010 showed the program costing the state anywhere from $2.5 to $3.1 billion over a six-year period starting in 2014. Up to a half million adults and children could be added to Indiana’s Medicaid rolls, bringing the entire state’s Medicaid population to 1.8 million by 2020. And successful programs like the Healthy Indiana Plan would be placed in limbo, or worse, eliminated.
Where are the dollars going to come from to pick up the state’s portion of this Medicaid expansion? Will the money come from roads, education, prisons or other state services? Critics of such an analysis say the true cost of the Affordable Care Act to Indiana won’t be in the billions but closer to $540 million. Still, that begs the same question: With a weak economy, where will the money come from to pay for this expansion?
And if that weren’t enough, what about the 2.3 percent tax on medical device manufacturers set to begin in 2013? This will have a major impact on Indiana as it is one of the leading states in the industry. Statewide, a study by Indiana’s University’s Kelley School of Business showed more than 18,000 jobs in Indiana could be impacted by the medical device tax. When has a tax on an industry ever resulted in more jobs and economic growth?
On balance, I can’t see how this is a good thing for Indiana. More people on government assistance, bigger burdens placed on states, and higher taxes on a key industry can’t be a positive.
I thought one of the key tenants of medicine was not to make the patient worse. At this rate, we may as well as call in Dr. Jack Kervokian to come put Indiana out of its misery.
Abdul is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org. He is also a frequent contributor to numerous Indiana media outlets. He can be reached at email@example.com.