While scanning news sources I came across this article in the New York Post and had to link to it because nothing summarizes the Senate health care bill better. Below I have included the highlights of the article and the bill as it relates to deficit spending and massive growth of the national debt. But before I do, let me say that if you believe that Congress is doing all of this because they want to improve health care for people, provide for those who can’t help themselves and reduce health care costs, then you shouldn’t bother reading any further. You are what I call a “drone”, blinded by allegiance to ideology and completely unable to make an independent objective analysis of what’s happening in Washington. For those who are skeptical of D.C., read on.
First, the CBO has announced that the Senate health care bill fails to reduce healthcare costs, which is an improvement over the House bill that the CBO says will increase healthcare costs. For that reason alone, both bills should be canned. But it gets worse, much worse.
Soon-to-be-former senator Harry Reid says the Senate bill will cost $850 billion over ten years and that this will be budget neutral via higher taxes and cuts in Medicare. That’s a convenient and blatantly dishonest description, but Harry is rarely accused of having integrity. According to the Post, Harry has used a smoke-and-mirrors game to come up with a ten-year “budget neutral” bill. The trick is that the actual entitlement program doesn’t kick in until 2014. The first ten years therefore includes five years of no entitlement program, no massive spending. During that first five years, the tax hikes and medicare cuts will be enacted. So we begin paying before anything actually happens. 99% of the costs of the bill won’t kick in until after 2014.
So, the CBO calculated the “true” cost of the bill. That is, the first ten years of the actual healthcare entitlement (2014-2023). And, surprise, they found that the bill will cost an obscene $1.8 trillion – double what Harry is telling us. But there’s more.
During that same ten years, the Post reports that there will be $900 billion in tax increases.
Again, before any of this happens, before anyone actually gets healthcare, we will start paying right away. For starters, the Senate proposes to divert $800 billion for Medicare to help fund this monstrosity. Half of that amount will come from cuts in physician reimbursement. Beginning in 2011, Medicare will cut pay to physicians by 23%. Logically, this will lead to a mass “drop” of Medicare, as in doctors will stop taking patients who are covered by Medicare alone. Medicare will effectively become another Medicaid, where doctors who see those patients do so at a net loss. There is only so much room for those types of patients in any medical practice. Similar scenarios will develop in hospitals and nursing homes. Access to care for seniors on Medicare will vanish, until 2014 when they can all enroll in the government option. Yet, the CBO didn’t take this “unintended consequence” into account when determining its $1.8 trillion price tag. So the actual cost will be hard to imagine.
The rest of the money comes from tax increases, lots of them. There will be taxes on food, taxes on cosmetic surgery, taxes on private insurance policies. But the big one will be an increase in payroll taxes. This will come at a time when unemployment has eclipsed 10%. We cross our fingers and hope businesses will start hiring again, and then we slap those businesses with more payroll taxes that will only discourage hiring.
Already have health insurance? Get ready to pay more for it, a lot more. The Senate bill clearly bans insurance companies from disqualifying people with pre-existing conditions, or due to increased age. It also says that the insurance companies can’t charge these people more for insurance. They must charge all customers the same. Therefore, private insurance policies will increase in price dramatically. Those of us who have insurance will pay more for it in order to make up for those people whose insurance costs more to provide. That’s on top of the taxes that will be assessed on our private policies.
Get insurance from your employer? Don’t count on it. Employers will be slapped with more payroll taxes and will be required to provide health insurance (that will be costing more) for their employees or pay a fine to the federal government. Problem is, the fine is a lot cheaper than providing insurance. So smaller companies will dump their insurance plans and simply pay the fine, telling employees they have the option to enroll in the government program. This will further bloat the government program, another unintended consequence not factored in by the CBO.
And remember, the government option isn’t available until 2014. So, there is a very real possibility that for the next 5 years the number of uninsured will skyrocket and once the government opens its clinic doors it will be flooded by people seeking care. $1.8 trillion won’t begin to cover the cost.
If passed, this bill will be an economic disaster, one that ruins the best healthcare system and the strongest economy in the world all with one swoop. But Harry tells us it can work while Obama eagerly waits to sign any bill that hits his desk no matter how destructive. And the drones applaud because even though we destroy the economy and the healthcare sector, we will finally give healthcare to people who never earned it.