This is a great analysis of the healthcare bill presented to the US Congress last week by Speaker Pelosi. Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute explains all that is wrong with it and why it breaks promises that President Obama made to the American people.
How can President Obama possibly endorse the bill that Speaker Pelosi unveiled to such great fanfare on Thursday? The House bill breaks major promises he has made to the American people about his goals for health reform. To name just a few:
Cost: The president has assured us that health reform would lower health costs. But the House bill would bend the federal cost curve UP, not down, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary analysis.
And only by using budget gimmicks were House leaders able to get the reported cost to $894 billion over 10 years, just barely under the president’s somehow magic $900 billion number. But that’s not the real cost. Robert Pear of The New York Times reports today, “By the most commonly used yardstick, the bill would cost $1.05 trillion over 10 years, roughly $150 billion more than President Obama had said he wanted to spend on the legislation.”
So the real cost will be over $1 trillion — and that doesn’t include the “Doc Fix.” The Speaker had the audacity to introduce that bill separately so the $245 billion price tag wouldn’t get counted in the total cost of the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried that trick last week, and went down in flames. Can the AMA possibly still stay on board with the House bill, since its deal has now been broken?
And health insurance premiums will soar, especially for younger families because the insurance regulations in the House bill allow only a 2 to 1 premium variation between the youngest and healthiest policy holders and the oldest and sickest.
And this doesn’t even count the huge economic distortions, cost-shifting, and new taxes that surely will be passed along to consumers.
Middle-class taxes: The president promised no tax increases on the middle class, but they surely will be paying the lion’s share of the $500 billion in new taxes to finance the bill. Americans for Tax Reform posted a listing of the new taxes in the House bill which violate the president’s pledge.
And add to that the estimated $33 billion in taxes the CBO says will be collected from individuals who don’t buy the expensive, government-mandated health insurance.
Keeping health insurance: A coalition of major business groups late Thursday sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi and Republican Leader John Boehner saying the House bill falls short of the bipartisan goal of controlling costs and could jeopardize group health insurance provided by employers to 160 million workers.
These are people who should know because they represent the companies that provide health coverage to the majority of Americans: The American Benefits Council, Business Roundtable, Corporate Health Care Coalition, the ERISA Industry Committee, National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, National Business Group on Health, National Coalition on Benefits, National Retail Federation and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
No savings from the public plan: CBO concludes that the government insurance option would typically charge higher premiums than private plans available in the new Health Insurance Exchange. “That surprising conclusion raises doubts about Democratic promises that a government-run insurance plan would provide a lower-cost alternative to consumers,” Politico reports. And it adds, “At the same time, it calls into question Republican charges that the plan amounts to government takeover of health insurance — because only 6 million people would enroll in the plan, according to the CBO.”
The 400,000-word House health reform bill is absolutely astonishing in the level of government intrusion it would shove into the lives of every American, every business, and every health care professional. I won’t bore you here with the legislative jargon, but pick a page, any page, and you will see what I mean. Here is a link to the bill and a much more reader-friendly section-by-section analysis. You will see that all power and control vests to the government.
Hitting small business hard: Don’t miss the new analysis by WellPoint that mined its own actuarial data to model the basics of the plan incorporated in the House bill, using data from 14 states where it runs Blue Cross plans.
In all 14, it found that the legislation would drive up premiums for small businesses and individuals. Young and healthy consumers would see the largest increases, with premiums more than tripling in some states.
The head of the National Federation of Independent Business, Dan Danner, said the huge cost of the health reform bill “will ultimately come out of small business owners’ pockets and prohibit them from growing, investing in their business and hiring new employees.”
The bill requires detailed recordkeeping on employee health insurance, imposes new taxes and new civil penalties for not complying with the barrage of new federal health insurance laws, and puts burdens on virtually every company to pay for this expensive insurance, in perpetuity. See my article, linked below, in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal for a report on how this is (not) working in Massachusetts.
Lock out: Speaker Pelosi’s announcement of the House bill had all the trappings of a major campaign rally. The only problem was that the public was locked out. Big chain link fences surrounded the West Front of the Capitol — usually a very open, public space — to make sure only supporters of the bill were allowed in.
This is so symbolic of the whole process: The American people are being shut out of the debate. All congressional recesses have been cancelled since August to keep members away from their constituents as much as possible, doors are locked while negotiations over the bills are taking place (breaking another presidential promise of an open and public process), and now, the public was even shut out of the public space outside the Capitol for the announcement rally.
This legislation is going to have an impact on the economic and health care freedom of Americans for decades to come. It is beyond irresponsible for Congress to be on the verge of passing these bills with this kind of disregard for the will of the people.
Politico carried a full-page ad yesterday with the pictures of 36 former members of Congress defeated in the 1994 elections in the aftermath of HillaryCare. It could happen again unless members open up this process to heed the fears of their constituents about a government take-over of the health sector.
The Independent Women’s Forum conducted its own poll that found women want to make their own choices and decisions about their and their family’s health care and they do not want politicians intruding.