Nothing is more important to Larry Patterson than his family. His four kids, who range from a 2-year-old to a college graduate, shape his outlook on life. They’re one of the primary reasons he’s concerned about the devastating consequences of Obamacare.
Patterson has good reason to be worried. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act diminishes family choice of coverage, limits parental involvement and strikes a blow for family values in health care.
Even with many of the new provisions years from implementation, Patterson is already bracing for the harsh realities of life under Obamacare.
The North Dallas businessman operates a franchise called the Glass Doctor, which repairs auto glass, windshields, windows and shower doors. He’s fortunate to offer health insurance to his employees and enjoys good coverage for his family. But with uncertainties about rising health care costs and the outsize impact on small businesses, the future is bleak.
“I don’t know so much that I’m afraid Obamacare would interfere with my doctor and our relationship, as much as I am certain that it will,” Patterson said. “At some point, the doctor is going to have to decide whether he wants to follow the Hippocratic oath or the Obamacratic oath. When the interest of the patient and the doctor are not in alignment, how is he going to make a decision as to what is the right thing to do when faced with the realities of federal law that says something different?”
The question weighs on Patterson’s mind. He wonders what it means for his own health care and the life facing his four children, Ashley, Jamie, Tatum and Willy.
At the heart of Obamacare is more government regulation. While it’s true that more families will be covered under the law, the new entitlement comes with strings attached. Families that take advantage of the affordability tax credits won’t have the option to purchase cheaper insurance plans across state lines and aren’t allowed to buy family-friendly plans.
Patterson said the likely result means inferior care to what he and his family receive today.
“It’s going to reduce choice because now we have politicians deciding upon who are the winners and the losers, what treatments doctors can perform and get paid for, and what treatments the government says, ‘No, this is not a valid treatment and we’re not going to pay for this,’” he said. “That’s absolutely going to reduce choice — not just in the quantity of doctors, but in the available treatments.”
He’s seen the impact firsthand. His cousin, who is in his 50s, decided to retire early from the medical profession rather than face more government regulation. Patterson said the additional bureaucratic burden for him and his staff was just too much to take — even though his cousin had planned to work 15 more years.
Patterson’s concerns extend beyond a reduced choice of doctors and treatments. He also fears the government will expand its role in the lives of his children, forcing him out of the equation.
“When I was growing up, my parents had absolute control over what I did, when I did it, and how I did it, until I reached the age of 18 and left the house and started taking care of myself,” Patterson said. “If my daughter were 17 years old and became pregnant, the last thing I need is a government consultant telling her what to do.”
Under the new health care law, that’s exactly what could happen. Obamacare undermines the role of parents by encouraging contraception and abortion without respecting parental consent. School-based health centers will receive $50 million per year to promote such options as contraception and abortion. An additional $75 million per year funds Personal Responsibility Education grants to help states reduce pregnancies.
With the government taking on a greater role, where does that leave a parent like Patterson? He talks frequently about the law’s consequences with his family and employees so they are fully aware of what it means. At home, it might result in less choice and greater regulation. At work, it could cause higher premiums and co-pays.
Policy issues aside, Patterson said he worries about how his children will view America differently under Obamacare. It’s one of the reasons he’s rooting for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to succeed in his lawsuit against Obamacare’s individual mandate.
“This law sends a message to my children and future Americans that they’re not competent, they can’t take care of themselves, government has to step in to take care of them,” Patterson said. “I look at this legislation as we are delegating basic moral responsibilities we have in our communities to take care of our aging parents, to take care of those that are less privileged in our communities. We’re taking these basic moral obligations away from ourselves, from our churches, our synagogues, our civic organizations, and we’re delegating these responsibilities to government. I don’t understand that.”
Patterson called himself the “most optimistic pessimist you’ll find.” It’s one reason he’s hopeful about the repeal of Obamacare and why he harbors a faith that his children’s generation might be able to put the country back on track — restoring the principles of limited government, individual freedom and traditional values when it comes to health care.
This story originally appeared in The Washington Examiner.