Healthcare: They call this bill ‘moderate’?

Tue, 10/20/2009 - 4:26pm
By: Letters to the ...

The Senate Finance Committee’s version of healthcare reform is being hailed as a model of bipartisan moderation.

According to the report just released by the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate Finance Committee version of the healthcare reform bill will cost roughly $829 billion over the next 10 years. And, significantly, it is even projected to reduce the budget deficit over 10 years by $81 billion. Of course, both those numbers are misleading.

The $829 billion cost is for the next 10 years, 2010-2019, but the most expensive provisions of the bill don’t take effect until July of 2013. The cost over the bill’s first 10 years of actual operation is closer to $1.3 trillion.

In addition, the bill assumes that Congress will implement a 21 percent reduction in Medicare payments that is already scheduled under current law. The only problem is that Congress has been planning to make those reductions since 2003 — and never has. There is no reason to believe it will do so this time either.

Most importantly, the bill does not achieve its deficit reduction by controlling spending or reducing healthcare costs. In fact, by the end of the 10-year budget window, the cost of the program is expected to be growing at 8 percent per year.

In particular, the bill imposes a 40 percent excise tax on health insurance plans that offer benefits in excess of $8,000 for an individual plan and $21,000 for a family plan. Insurers would almost certainly pass this tax on to consumers via higher premiums.

When not raising taxes, the bill simply pushes costs on to others. For example, the bill would push $35 billion in Medicaid costs off onto already cash-strapped state governments. Other costs would be offloaded onto businesses and individuals.

Nor should it be forgotten that this bill would still give the government the power to force most Americans to purchase insurance, and allow the government to dictate what benefits insurance should offer.

With all this, the bill still leaves 25 million people uninsured. If that’s moderation, it’s just not good enough.

Dave Edinger

Peachtree City, Ga.

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