Health-care law: 'Raw deal' for the young, says Purdue President Mitch Daniels

Purdue's Mitch Daniels, the former Indiana governor, says at a Monitor Breakfast that health-care premiums for young people under Obamacare will rise beyond what is fair 'to subsidize the elders.'

Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
Purdue University President Mitch Daniels speaks at the Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013.

As Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was being grilled on Capitol Hill about the troubled launch of Obamacare, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mitch Daniels, told reporters the law “soaks the young to benefit their elders.”

Mr. Daniels, who served two terms as a Republican governor of Indiana and is now president of Purdue University, said that under the Affordable Care Act, “Premiums for young people will go up way beyond whatever is actuarially fair and accurate in order to subsidize the elders.” He spoke Wednesday at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters.

Daniels, who earlier in his career was President Ronald Reagan’s chief political adviser and George W. Bush's budget chief, highlighted what could be a longer term problem for the health-care law. Based on frequent conversations with college students, Daniels said, he didn't think young people today "have quite focused” on the economic consequences of Obamacare. “But when they do they are going to say, 'We got handed a raw deal here.' "

For the Affordable Care Act to be economically viable, young healthy individuals need to sign up in large numbers to offset the higher health-care costs of older Americans. 

Since he began serving as Purdue’s 12th president in January, Daniels says he has taken an “oath of political celibacy.” He prefaced his comments about the Affordable Care Act by saying, “I am making no argument here about the merits or demerits of the health-care plan. You can like it or not like it.”

His comments about the potential adverse reaction of younger Americans to Obamacare's economic underpinnings came in the context of warnings about the danger of the $17 trillion in public debt the federal government has accumulated."This generation has a right to be as upset with its elders as any in history. They are going to inherit a mountain of debt,” Daniels said 

Expanding on a theme from his book "Keeping the Republic," Daniels called the debt “the largest non-military danger we have ever faced.” He added that, "the debts we are piling up are right now an obstacle to growth. If interest rates rise, and some day they will, just watch what happens both to growth and to the debt itself."

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