What will it all ultimately mean?
That has been the question on the minds of many individuals and business executives ever since the Supreme Court in June upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
And the fact is until the sweeping reforms of the Act are put fully into effect, the answer is that no one knows for sure. Many in the world of politics, government and business concur that they expect it to be an entitlement boondoggle of epic proportions with staggering fiscal implications, which we would agree seems likely to be the case.
Comments about at least one element of the legislation made at a local meeting last week have the ring of truth, and as such should give pause for concern for every taxpayer.
U.S. Congressman Rob Woodall and state Rep. Mark Hamilton spoke Tuesday to a Chamber of Commerce group about potential impacts of the president’s health plan. One area on which they focused was the potential for shifting huge expenses from the federal to the state level.
Woodall noted that implementation of Obamacare is expected to costs about $1.4 trillion. He added, however, that while increases in certain federal taxes associated with the program may bring in new revenue at the federal level, much of the cost associated with the plan will have to be absorbed by the states, which aren’t going to be seeing those same tax revenue increases.
“We’re bringing in tremendous amounts of revenue at the federal level and we’re dumping all the responsibility for actually paying for the care [on the states],” said the congressman from Georgia’s 7th District, which includes part of Forsyth County.
States are used to unfunded mandates from the federal government, but the scope of Obamacare could prove overwhelming if adequate funds don’t flow from Washington to state capitols.
Hamilton said that projections show Georgia could add more than 600,000 people to its Medicaid rolls by 2014. He said if that is indeed the case, 24 percent of all Georgians would be on Medicaid.
Both lawmakers noted that if adequate funding for the program doesn’t come to the states from the federal level — and we all know the federal fiscal picture is beyond precarious — then the only source of money for the states is the taxpayers.
Unlike the federal government, Georgia has to have a balanced budget and can’t be obligated to massive debt, as is the government in Washington, D.C., which is drowning in an ocean of red ink.