The Other Bad Healthcare “Reform” Billby Kevin Boyd
The Senate Finance Committee is finishing up work this week on a “compromise” Obamacare bill that’s being billed as better than pure Obamacare because it doesn’t include “death panels”, a public option, and free healthcare for illegal aliens.
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said Monday that he will propose an overhaul of the nation’s health-care system that addresses a host of GOP concerns, including blocking illegal immigrants from gaining access to subsidized insurance, urging limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and banning federal subsidies for abortion.
But even after Max Baucus (D-Mont.) spoke optimistically of gaining bipartisan backing, lawmakers continued to haggle over a question at the heart of the debate: How can the government force people to buy insurance without imposing a huge new financial burden on millions of middle-class Americans?
Finally this bill is debating the real issue, what right does the Federal government have to force Americans to buy health insurance? Surprisingly, one of the most outspoken opponents of the individual mandate in this form is from the left.
Even within his own party, Baucus confronted a fresh wave of concern about affordability. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) declared himself dissatisfied with the chairman’s plan, which, like other congressional reform proposals, would require every American to buy health insurance by 2013.
“Additional steps are going to have to be taken to make coverage more affordable,” Wyden said, “and my sense is that will be a concern to members on both sides of the aisle.”
Under the Baucus plan, described in a “framework” he released last week, as many as 4 million of the 46 million people who are currently uninsured would be required to buy coverage on their own, without government help, by some estimates. Millions more would qualify for federal tax credits, but could still end up paying as much as 13 percent of their income for insurance premiums — far more than most Americans now pay for coverage.
People further down the income scale would receive much bigger tax credits, effectively limiting their premiums at 3 percent of their earnings. But experts on affordability say even those families could find it difficult to meet the new mandate without straining their wallets.
“We’re talking about the equivalent of a middle-class tax increase,” said Michael D. Tanner, a health-care expert at the libertarian Cato Institute. “Yes, they’re paying it to an insurance company instead of to the government. But, suddenly, these people are paying more money to somebody.”
So American taxpayers will have to pay higher insurance premiums than they have to now or be fined by the government under this “compromise” bill. So far, this bill does nothing to solve the biggest problem with American healthcare, the high cost of it. Opponents of this bill on the left characterize this bill as nothing more than a giveaway to the insurance companies, and they’re right. The way to reduce the cost of healthcare is to increase competition and the free market’s role in healthcare and again, this bill does nothing to reduce regulation, increase competition, or promote the free market.
But there’s even more….
Also unresolved Monday was the question of how to pay for an expansion of Medicaid to cover every U.S. citizen whose income falls below 133 percent of the federal poverty level, about $14,500 for an individual or $29,500 for a family of four. Governors in both parties strongly oppose an expansion that is not fully financed by the federal government. The Senate negotiators are scheduled to brief governors by conference call Tuesday afternoon, and Baucus predicted they would be “pleasantly surprised.”
“The Medicaid costs,” he said, “are not going to cost states near as much as feared.”
Max Baucus wants the states to just “trust him”. In addition to higher insurance premiums and tax increases for those who don’t buy health insurance, Baucus plans on making the bad financial conditions that every state is in even worse with this unfunded mandate. States have to close their budget deficits some how and that some how is usually tax increases.
But there’s even more….from the Wall Street Journal
Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) raised concerns about Mr. Baucus’s mix of new taxes and other means of paying for the plan. Among other things, Mr. Baucus is proposing to levy a new tax on so-called gold-plated health policies. He also wants to levy new fees on health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and other health-care industries.
“There may be a better way to find that revenue,” Sen. Kerry said. He suggested he’ll be looking for changes, though he declined to offer specifics. “We are going to have a tug of war,” he said, describing the chairman’s soon-to-be-unveiled bill as a “starting point” for a new round of negotiations on details. “That’s the process of legislating,” he said.
So there’s even more tax increases, this time on health insurance companies (which will be a wash for them since they’re getting bailed out in this bill), drug companies, and the health care industry in general. In addition, if Max Baucus doesn’t like your health insurance policy, he’s going to tax it too. Well, the taxed businesses have to make up that lost revenue some how by raising their products’ prices or cutting jobs.
To recap, the Baucus “compromise” Obamacare/health insurance companies bailout plan:
Requires all Americans to buy “approved” health insurance plans and raises taxes on those who don’t buy health insurance plans Max Baucus likes
Gives the IRS more power to levy higher taxes, without due process
Raises taxes on health care related businesses
Makes every state’s financial situation even worse, which will lead to more budget cuts or tax increases through an unfunded mandate to increase Medicaid enrollment.
Increases the cost of health care for most Americans
“Hope and Change” indeed, comrades.