EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 16, 2014

How about a health care break for small businesses, too?

Barbara Anderson
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

— Hubert H. Humphrey

I’ve been hearing that Humphrey quote since I became a political activist, always from liberals who insist there must be higher taxes or the government will just have to keep wasting money on increasing the power and privilege of the ruling government class, instead of passing the moral test.

Let me rephrase. The competence test of government is how that government manages not to completely screw up services to those in the dawn of life and the twilight of life, along with everybody else, especially the sick.

The most recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ranks Massachusetts one of the worst in the nation for children’s welfare (despite a tax burden that is one of the highest in the nation). Taking care of children born into bad home environments is a problem in all states, with the hard choices of letting them take their chances with neglectful or abusive parents or placing them in foster care that has its own risks. But Massachusetts has a history of getting it wrong, over and over.

One of the reasons is a welfare system with high incentive to have children that will need government intervention in their lives because the parents are irresponsible from the beginning: unknown or absentee fathers, mothers using drugs or alcohol while pregnant and afterward. What is society to do? Government taking children from their mothers is scary power; finding good foster homes becomes essential, and in Massachusetts, some of the foster parents have themselves been abused by the system, receiving little backup for the good that they do.

Recent headlines tell of a child who was returned to his mother and never checked on; he is missing now and presumed dead. Of course, children in foster homes have been harmed, too.

Expenditures for vulnerable children, and for the mentally ill, are not controversial until the money doesn’t get the job done. Our state government makes it seem as if nothing will ever be done to address this problem, which only gets worse as modern society deteriorates.

Society is doing better caring for those in the twilight of life, at least until Medicare and Social Security run out of money. Rather than dwell on this inevitability, let’s move on to something more easily fixable: Obamacare, which if left to its legal implementation, will result in the death of people who suddenly lose the insurance they’ve been using for essential treatment.

President Obama unilaterally making changes in the law as its flaws become obvious is no solution, either, since that arrogance, if unchecked, could permanently damage our republic, in which Congress, not the president, amends the laws it has passed.

It’s time for our elected representatives to step up and assert their constitutional authority while they fix the problems of the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare). This means you, Congressman John Tierney. During the debate in 2009 you, along with the president, told us that if we like our health insurance, we can keep our health insurance.

A few months later, I received a notice that my Medicare Advantage program had been canceled. I found another policy for my small business, but last week received a notice that this policy isn’t allowed by Obamacare because it doesn’t cover pediatric dental care or childbirth classes for our three employees, all over 60 without dependents. I’m told by health services administrators that even if they can work around the new mandates, the federal law’s new rating factors will affect small business premiums.

Since Romneycare acquired numerous expensive mandates after Gov. Romney left, our health insurance policies are already required to cover some of the things that policies in other states don’t yet have. So, if it makes us feel better: Since our health insurance costs are already the highest in the nation, the new impact here may not be as great as in other states.

Access to health insurance has been blocked by the terrible design of the Obama system, which has negatively impacted the design of the once accessible Massachusetts system. We recently learned that some of the software was outsourced to Belarus, which made me think of a Dilbert cartoon strip in which his company outsourced software to a third world country named Elbonia. Its citizens live hip-deep in mud and take turns pretending to be computers for another Elbonian to program for foolish American companies.

The Obama Administration has just again, unilaterally, delayed the Obamacare penalty on larger employers. Additionally, people with individual policies that don’t conform have been given a year to find new ones. I called Congressman Tierney and our two U.S. senators to suggest they demand a delay in this assault on small businesses, too. Then they might as well just repeal the entire “Affordable Care” abomination and start over — before many more Americans find themselves without health care and possibly, therefore, prematurely in the twilight of their lives.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and an Eagle-Tribune columnist.