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Obamacare will be GOP’s savior in ’14

Nolan Finley-I’ve just returned from a few days in Washington, where the conversation continues to center on whether Republicans can regroup and rebound from their disappointing defeat in the November election.

Thoughts on what the GOP must do range from improving their Spanish to standing up in gay weddings.

But I think 2014 will be a huge Republican year.

The reason: Obamacare will be in place by the time Americans next go to the polls, and they’ll have tasted the true costs of a law they didn’t want in the first place.

I’m more convinced of that after returning home to find an exhaustive memo from Bob Daddow, Oakland County’s budget chief. Ol’ Doomsday was asked by his boss, Brooks Patterson, to figure out how forces beyond local control could rattle Oakland’s fiscal roof. His response: “Let me count the ways …”

As is his nature, Daddow is gloomy about lots of things, from how the new taxes in the fiscal cliff deal will impact small-business hiring to whether credit rating services will downgrade the national debt.

But mostly he’s fretting about how the Affordable Care Act will raise costs for Oakland’s taxpayers and the businesses that operate in the county.

“The potential cost impact on the county remains one of the more significant unquantifiable budget exposures,” he writes.

Late in December, the government imposed a $63 fee on everyone enrolled in a health care plan. For Oakland, that amounts to an unbudgeted $488,000, unless it passes the cost onto its employees. And it very well may be passed along, since the county has to comply with a state law that caps its share of health insurance costs at 80 percent.

The new policy tax joins $24 billion in levies, mostly on high-income earners, that kicked in Jan. 1

“Several of these new taxes will place pressures on businesses trying to recover from the ‘great recession’ with the expansion having a dampening effect on the retention and creation of new jobs,” Daddow writes.

He also believes uncertainty about Obamacare regulations will slow hiring and consumer spending. And it could double the cost of health insurance premiums.

He comes to that conclusion because he has no faith in Washington’s promise that Obamacare will be paid for by rooting waste and fraud from Medicare and Medicaid, and by collecting a mandated tax from the currently uninsured.

Daddow wisely notes that imposing a tax is a lot easier than collecting one imposed on a population that doesn’t file federal income taxes.

If those funding sources for Obamacare don’t materialize, rates for insurance policies will soar. More employers will decide paying a fine for not offering coverage is the cheapest way out, and a lot of folks who are used to having employer-provided insurance will be dumped into the government exchanges.

Costs will go up, services will go down, Daddow predicts, because the health care system is not prepared to absorb 33 million new patients.

Any goodwill Obamacare generated by mandating coverage of pre-existing conditions and for “children” up to age 26 will evaporate once employees start losing their policies and the monthly bills skyrocket.

Nobody is going to be happy. And this is one Washington mess voters won’t blame on Republicans.

Obama assured that when he embraced the derogatory “Obamacare” as the bill’s handle.

From The Detroit News: