The damage has already begun - NYPOST.com By SALLY PIPES
Repeal of ObamaCare can't come soon enough -- as several damaging provisions are set to take effect this year.
For starters, it has effectively stopped the construction of physician-owned hospitals throughout the country.
Section 6001 of the health-care law required physician-owned hospitals to obtain their Medicare certification by the end of last year. Without it, they can't treat Medicare patients. And the facilities needed to be open to get that certification.
So construction halted at 45 hospitals as the New Year arrived. Work on countless others will never start, having been effectively banned by ObamaCare. This will limit competition in the health-care marketplace, driving up costs for patients.
Of course, patients may have trouble finding not just a hospital, but a doctor. A Physician's Foundation survey revealed that 40 percent of doctors plan to "drop out of patient care in the next one to three years." Sixty percent said ObamaCare will "compel them to close or significantly restrict their practices to certain categories of patients" -- typically those on Medicare or Medicaid.
Health reform will force many folks to give up their current insurance, too.
New rules requiring insurers in the individual and small-group markets to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on medical claims are intended to ensure that consumers get good value for their money. Instead, they'll push many plans out of existence. And with fewer competitors to keep them honest, the insurers that survive will have an easier time raising rates.
Other measures kicking in are petty -- but punitive. For example, people can no longer use tax-free Health Savings Accounts on basic over-the-counter drugs. Instead, they must pay for a doctor's appointment -- and then get a prescription for a pricier pharmacist-dispensed drug.
Consider the case of Claritin, an allergy medication that recently was approved for OTC use. A report from the National Center for Policy Analysis found that longtime users of the drug saw their daily costs fall 80 percent, from about $2.50 to just 50 cents. ObamaCare reverses this trend by encouraging people to opt for higher-priced prescription drugs when a cheaper OTC medication would work just as well.
And some measures are cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face punitive -- like the new $2.5 billion excise tax on pharmaceutical companies. Drug manufacturers won't simply swallow this new bill; they'll pass it onto consumers in the form of higher prices.
Thus, by (for example) increasing the cost of care for patients who need cholesterol-lowering statins or cancer-fighting meds, ObamaCare harms our health.
Public discontent with ObamaCare will only grow as its provisions begin to take effect this year. Congress should repeal it with all due speed.
Sally C. Pipes is president and CEO at the Pa cific Research Institute. Her latest book is "The Truth About ObamaCare."