Posted tagged ‘Congress’

Health Care Reform Is Not About Health, Care, or Reform

August 22, 2009

lego_ambulanceI have come to the conclusion that health care reform is not about health, care, or reform. And this is why.

We already have a government run health care plan in this country – it is called Medicaid. If Medicaid doesn’t cover enough of the people who can’t afford private health insurance or those who can’t get private health insurance at any price, why aren’t we talking about Medicaid reform?

If the reason is because Medicaid is a broken system that is almost out of funds and is rife with fraud at all levels, then why should we believe that a new public health plan would fare any better?

Any real reform of the health care system in America would need to focus on four key issues:

  • Medicaid reform
    Fix what is broken and expand it to cover more of those who need it.
  • Tort reform
    I find the idea of health courts which would be similar to workers’ compensation courts very intriguing.
  • Tax reform
    Employers are allowed to deduct 100% of the health insurance premiums they pay for their employees. Individuals who purchase their own private health insurance should also be allowed to deduct 100% of their premiums on their income tax returns.
  • Regulation reform
    Allow insurance companies to do business across state lines. At the very least, allow them to offer high-deductible, HSA-qualifying plans nationwide.

By giving little, if any, attention to these key points, the federal government is telling us that health care reform is not really the purpose of the various bills currently floating around Congress. The true purpose is to increase tax revenues because government spending is at historic highs while income (in the form of tax revenues) is at historic lows.

This is why the plans, the House bill in particular, have far more sticks than carrots. Revenue will increase through several measures including:

  • New penalty taxes on individuals who do not have health insurance.
  • New penalty taxes on small businesses that do not offer health insurance to employees.
  • Implied increase in corporate taxes on insurance companies will benefit from the plan by picking up millions of new customers who don’t want to get stuck paying the above penalty taxes.
  • New income taxes on the wealthiest citizens.

Will all that money be spent on health care? Does the Social Security Trust Fund contain any actual money? No. Do seriously wounded veterans get their disabilty checks in a timely manner? No.

Again, why should we believe that an enormous new federal social program and its attendant bureaucracy function any better?

Don’t be fooled by all the rhetoric on either side of the ongoing, heated debate. It’s never been about anything but the money.

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Obama Guarantees Health Care Takeover Will Pass

August 20, 2009

From the Associated Press:

With control of the health care debate slipping from his grasp, President Barack Obama pitched his ambitious plan to both conservative talk radio and his own liberal supporters Thursday — and denied a challenge from one backer that he was “bucklin’ a little bit” under Republican criticism.

Liberals were on the verge of revolt as Obama refused to say any final deal must include a government-run insurance option, while Republicans pressed their all-but-unified opposition to the White House effort. Obama, who will leave Washington Friday on vacation, said reason would prevail and it was no time to panic.

I guarantee you … we are going to get health care reform done. And I know that there are a lot of people out there who have been hand-wringing, and folks in the press are following every little twist and turn of the legislative process,” Obama told a caller to Philadelphia-based radio talk show host Michael Smerconish during a broadcast from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room.

“You know, passing a big bill like this is always messy.”

Continue reading…

If the government passes one more enormously expensive bill that a majority of the people adamantly oppose, “messy” may be the understatement of the century. I’m not saying I know anything, only that this is making me very uneasy.

Reuters: U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly rise

August 20, 2009

Unexpectedly? I guess it might be unexpected if you aren’t completely connected to reality. Anyeay, here’s what Reuters reported:

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 576,000 in the week ended August 15 from 561,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast new claims slipping to 550,000 last week from a previously reported 558,000.

The number of people collecting long-term unemployment benefits edged up 2,000 to 6.24 million in the week ended August 8, the latest week for which the data is available. However, the four-week moving average declined 2,500 to 6.27 million.

Wonder how many of the 2,500 decline are people who have exhausted their benefits but are still unemployed. Considering that we’ve wiped out all the jobs created in the 21st century, you can’t help but wonder.

allJobs

HotAir’s Ed Morrissey sums it up nicely:

Obama has a big problem.  The stimulus package has utterly failed to prevent unemployment from getting above the target line of 8%.  After some initial optimism about the economy, employers are once again shedding jobs and reducing costs, particularly as they see Obama’s expansive — and expensive — legislative agenda work through Congress.  At the time when Obama says, “Trust me to run health care,” voters are realizing that he couldn’t get the economy right while mortgaging the Treasury.  Maybe Obama should focus on fixing what he’s already broken before breaking something else.

Read the rest…

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True…

August 17, 2009

Silly me. I almost dared to, ahem, hope yesterday that the Obama administration might really be backing away from a government-run health insurance option. It was a guarded hope at best because as Edmund Haislmaier pointed out a few weeks ago at The Foundry:

If by health care “co-op,” Congress means allowing private associations to collectively buy health insurance for their members or operate a health insurance exchange, or allowing people to buy health insurance from a non-profit, member-owned private insurer, then those would be positive, pro-consumer developments.

However, simply slapping the word “cooperative” onto a new “insurer,” but then specifying that the government — not the policyholders — picks the board of directors (as Sen. Schumer wants), or that taxpayers will subsidize it, or that it has to pay doctors and hospitals at Medicare rates, would just be an exercise in trying to disguise a “public plan.”

But today it appears to have been nothing but a mis-statement or a trial balloon. It figures. Washington hasn’t been listening to we the people for a long time. Why start now?

54% Say No to Obamacare

August 15, 2009

thumb_down5 Brand new Rasmussen Poll numbers:

54% say no health care reform passed by Congress this year would be the better than passing the House bill.

 

“Middle income voters, those who earn from $40,000 to $75,000 a year, are most strongly in favor of taking no action.

A plurality of voters under 30 say passage of the Congressional legislation is better. A majority of adults over 30 take the opposite view.

Just 42% of U.S. voters now favor the plan while 53% are opposed. Those who oppose the effort feel more strongly about it.

One reason that the President has been careful to distinguish between his idea of health care reform and a single payer system is that just 32% favor Single-Payer health care while 57% are opposed.

What will happen when Congress return to DC? Will the Democrats continue to insist that town hall demonstrators are “not representative” of the American people? Will they pass this monstrous bill anyway, in spite of majority opposition of the people, like they did with Bush’s TARP and Obama’s Stimulus? By the way, how well have those two mega-sized, mega-expensive programs worked out so far? Just sayin’.

Change: Death to the Death Panels

August 13, 2009

Finance Committee to drop end-of-life provision 
By Michael O’Brien 

The Senate Finance Committee will drop a controversial provision on consultations for end-of-life care from its proposed healthcare bill, its top Republican member said Thursday.

The committee, which has worked on putting together a bipartisan healthcare reform bill, will drop the controversial provision after it was derided by conservatives as “death panels” to encourage euthanasia.

“On the Finance Committee, we are working very hard to avoid unintended consequences by methodically working through the complexities of all of these issues and policy options,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement. “We dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.”

The Finance Committee is the only congressional committee not to report out a preliminary healthcare bill before the August congressional recess, but is expected to unveil its proposal shortly after Labor Day.

Grassley said that bill would hold up better compared to proposals crafted in the House, which he asserted were “poorly cobbled together.”

“The bill passed by the House committees is so poorly cobbled together that it will have all kinds of unintended consequences, including making taxpayers fund healthcare subsidies for illegal immigrants,” Grassley said. The veteran Iowa lawmaker said the end-of-life provision in those bills would pay physicians to “advise patients about end-of-life care and rate physician quality of care based on the creation of and adherence to orders for end-of-life care.

“Maybe others can defend a bill like the Pelosi bill that leaves major issues open to interpretation, but I can’t,” Grassley added. 

Source: TheHill.com

The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare

August 12, 2009

I’ve been jotting down notes for a few days now of the ways I think health care reform could be done effectively as opposed to the half-baked horror currently circulating in Congress.

So I was quite pleased to find the following op-ed in yesterday’s WSJ. Not only is it almost everything I’ve been thinking, it is a case study in how these ideas are actually working in real life.

Your thoughts?

The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare
Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.

By John Mackey

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people’s money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees’ Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.

Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan’s costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

• Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor’s visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?

• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Continue reading

Sadly, I don’t expect to see any of these excellent ideas implemented by the federal government and not just because of partisan politics either.

The unfinished plans in Congress now are heavy on sticks and light on carrots. Why? Because tax revenues have fallen off a cliff.