"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Monday, November 2, 2009

Wall Street Journal Labels Health Care Reform Bill "The Worst Bill Ever"

Still going through the Health Care Reform bill myself. I took some time off for Halloween and watched an unimpressive Japanese horror movie ("Cursed") with my wife. We had one trick-or-treater come to our door.

Meanwhile The Wall Street Journal has labeled the bill "The Worst Bill Ever" in an opinion piece title. I highly recommend reading the whole piece at the above link.

From the piece: "Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly told fellow Democrats that she's prepared to lose seats in 2010 if that's what it takes to pass ObamaCare, and little wonder. The health bill she unwrapped last Thursday, which President Obama hailed as a 'critical milestone,' may well be the worst piece of post-New Deal legislation ever introduced.

"In a rational political world, this 1,990-page runaway train would have been derailed months ago. With spending and debt already at record peacetime levels, the bill creates a new and probably unrepealable middle-class entitlement that is designed to expand over time. Taxes will need to rise precipitously, even as ObamaCare so dramatically expands government control of health care that eventually all medicine will be rationed via politics.

"Yet at this point, Democrats have dumped any pretense of genuine bipartisan 'reform' and moved into the realm of pure power politics as they race against the unpopularity of their own agenda. The goal is to ram through whatever income-redistribution scheme they can claim to be 'universal coverage.' The result will be destructive on every level—for the health-care system, for the country's fiscal condition, and ultimately for American freedom and prosperity.

[...]

"[T]he House disguises hundreds of billions of dollars in additional costs with budget gimmicks. It "pays for" about six years of program with a decade of revenue, with the heaviest costs concentrated in the second five years. The House also pretends Medicare payments to doctors will be cut by 21.5% next year and deeper after that, 'saving' about $250 billion. ObamaCare will be lucky to cost under $2 trillion over 10 years; it will grow more after that.

[...]

"European Levels of Taxation. All told, the House favors $572 billion in new taxes, mostly by imposing a 5.4-percentage-point 'surcharge' on joint filers earning over $1 million, $500,000 for singles. This tax will raise the top marginal rate to 45% in 2011 from 39.6% when the Bush tax cuts expire—not counting state income taxes and the phase-out of certain deductions and exemptions. The burden will mostly fall on the small businesses that have organized as Subchapter S or limited liability corporations, since the truly wealthy won't have any difficulty sheltering their incomes.

"This surtax could hit ever more earners because, like the alternative minimum tax, it isn't indexed for inflation. Yet it still won't be nearly enough. Even if Congress had confiscated 100% of the taxable income of people earning over $500,000 in the boom year of 2006, it would have only raised $1.3 trillion. When Democrats end up soaking the middle class, perhaps via the European-style value-added tax that Mrs. Pelosi has endorsed, they'll claim the deficits that they created made them do it.

"Under another new tax, businesses would have to surrender 8% of their payroll to government if they don't offer insurance or pay at least 72.5% of their workers' premiums, which eat into wages. Such 'play or pay' taxes always become 'pay or pay' and will rise over time, with severe consequences for hiring, job creation and ultimately growth. While the U.S. already has one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the world, Democrats are on the way to creating a high structural unemployment rate, much as Europe has done by expanding its welfare states.

"Meanwhile, a tax equal to 2.5% of adjusted gross income will also be imposed on some 18 million people who CBO expects still won't buy insurance in 2019. Democrats could make this penalty even higher, but that is politically unacceptable, or they could make the subsidies even higher, but that would expose the (already ludicrous) illusion that ObamaCare will reduce the deficit.

"• The insurance takeover. A new 'health choices commissioner' will decide what counts as 'essential benefits,' which all insurers will have to offer as first-dollar coverage. Private insurers will also be told how much they are allowed to charge even as they will have to offer coverage at virtually the same price to anyone who applies, regardless of health status or medical history.

"The cost of insurance, naturally, will skyrocket. The insurer WellPoint estimates based on its own market data that some premiums in the individual market will triple under these new burdens. The same is likely to prove true for the employer-sponsored plans that provide private coverage to about 177 million people today. Over time, the new mandates will apply to all contracts, including for the large businesses currently given a safe harbor from bureaucratic tampering under a 1974 law called Erisa.

"The political incentive will always be for government to expand benefits and reduce cost-sharing, trampling any chance of giving individuals financial incentives to economize on care. Essentially, all insurers will become government contractors, in the business of fulfilling political demands: There will be no such thing as 'private' health insurance [emphasis mine]."

Having read the Senate HELP Committee's Bill and still in the middle of this this monster, I have to concur especially regarding the creation of the "health choices commissioner." This is not very different from NICE within Britain's National Health Service (NHS) that routinely denies critical treatments in an effort to save money.

From one of my earlier posts: Britain's National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)-- great acronym, huh?-- decided to not offer some drugs to NHS kidney cancer patients. "It concluded that the drugs - bevacizumab, sorafenib, sunitinib and temsirolimus - did not offer value for money [bang for the buck in American bailout jargon]." This prompted some of the "UK's top cancer consultants to warn that NHS drug 'rationing' is forcing patients to remortgage their homes to pay for treatment."

NICE's response? "Andrew Dillon, the NICE chief executive, and Sir Michael Rawlins, NICE's chairman, told the Sunday Times the NHS did not have unlimited funds to provide all available treatments.

"'There is a finite pot of money for the NHS, which is determined annually by parliament,' they said. 'If one group of patients is provided with cost-ineffective care, other groups - lacking powerful lobbyists - will be denied cost-effective care for miserable conditions like schizophrenia, Crohn's disease or cystic fibrosis.'"

This bill is a monster. It will significantly degrade the quality of health care for all. The CBO says that 18 million Americans will remain uninsured ten years after its passage (CBO report here)-- a realistic number of American citizens unable to afford health insurance now is 19 million. And it will cost trillions of dollars so that the federal government can make life worse for all of us. Not a bargain on any level.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting of reading this monster. I read one paragraph of the Baucus bill and knew I could not hack my way through the whole thing.
    I am saddened and angered that America has come to the point where 535 of us do not even feel any shame about producing such a travesty,

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