By Jeffrey I. Barke • The Hill

As ObamaCare’s troubles mount, I’ve heard my patients and my peers in healthcare ask: How could the law’s authors not have seen this coming?

For my part, I think a different question needs to be asked: What if they did? What if ObamaCare was purposely designed to fail?

Every day, it seems like there are a dozen new headlines about the crisis facing ObamaCare. Premiums are rising faster than ever. Meanwhile, health insurance companies are abandoning the law’s exchanges left and right, unable to compete in the top-down, regulation-driven environment created by the law. Less than three years into its implementation, the law has never looked so precarious.

This vindicates the critics who have predicted these outcomes for years. They were laughed out of the room when they said the law would enter into a “death spiral,” but now that looks like an inevitability. Even the law’s most ardent defenders — including its namesake, President Obama — are calling for serious reforms to stop the law from imploding. Inevitably, the solutions they demand are more regulation, more government, more top-down control of Americans’ health care.

Then again, that may have always been the plan. It now seems to me that ObamaCare’s creators weren’t blind to what they were doing — they were playing a long game that is just now coming to fruition.

To understand what I mean, it’s worth revisiting what happened immediately before ObamaCare’s passage in 2010. Back then, President Obama and Democrats in Congress wanted to fundamentally revolutionize health care. There were calls for a single-payer system modeled after Canada or European nations. Short of that, there were calls for a public option — a government-run, taxpayer-backed insurance scheme that would run private insurers out of business. The list of radical reforms goes on.

They got ObamaCare instead. The American people’s opposition to extreme reform ensured that congressional Democrats backed down from anything extreme. Instead of single-payer or the public option, they got We know how that worked out: Six years — and millions of canceled plans, smaller networks, and higher premiums, deductibles, and co-pays — later, the law is crumbling from coast to coast.

But liberals never backed down from the radical healthcare dreams that were dashed by the American people in 2010. They simply needed to bide their time and lay the groundwork.

That’s why they rushed to pass ObamaCare with so little debate, and without a single Republican vote. Its authors purposely designed the law so that it would fail. And when it did, they could return to the American people with the promise that even greater government intervention in healthcare could end the ObamaCare nightmare. I believe that was the real meaning of then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s comment that we needed to “pass (ObamaCare) to find out what’s in it.”

Sure enough, look at what’s happening now.

In the past six months, Democrats have renewed their calls for single-payer, the public option, and a host of other government-driven solutions to health care. President Obama himself is on board with this push, writing recently that it’s time to revisit the debates over health care that he spearheaded in 2009 and 2010. His call for further serious reforms have been echoed by hundreds of prominent politicians, journalists, and other well-known liberal figures.

Which leads us to Hillary Clinton. If elected president, she will undoubtedly make these dreams a reality. It doesn’t matter whether she has four or eight years in office — those years will see the federal government exert ever more control over America’s health care system, if not take it over completely.

Clinton’s plans to “fix” the system as it is now are as vacuous as President Obama’s promises in 2009 and 2010. A socialized single payer government plan has been the great liberal dream for decades, and now they are closer than ever before to achieving it.

But the American people should be terrified. If ObamaCare has proven anything, it’s that government control of healthcare —even partially — has disastrous effects on cost, quality, and individual well-being. Even greater control will cause even greater harm. The liberal cure would be worse than the disease.

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