Free Markets, Free People

Reid’s Secret Plan

You gotta love the way Dingy Harry builds faith in his mission:

We have a broad agreement. Now I know that people are going to ask to be given every detail of this.

[…]

We have had a rule here for 40 years or however long we have been in existence, if you start talking about the plan and start shipping it around, it will be made public. And we want not that to be the case because we want to know the score before we start giving all the details even to our own members.

So you are not going to get answers to those questions.

[…]

As I have indicated, we can’t disclose the details of what we have done, but believe me we have got something that is good and that I think is very, for us, it moves this bill way down the road.

That’s right, just “believe” him and his Democrat buddies. You’re gonna love it!

Fortunately, enough of the super-secret, whats-good-fer’ya plan has leaked out that some cogent analysis is possible. Cato’s Michael Tanner, for example, observed that the proposed legislation would basically replicate the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP), through which many government workers and Members of Congress get coverage, as well expand MediCare (and possibly MediCaid) to people as young as 55. He also notes several problems with this proposal:

A few reasons to believe this is yet another truly bad idea:

1. In choosing the FEHBP for a model, Democrats have actually chosen an insurance plan whose costs are rising faster than average. FEHBP premiums are expected to rise 7.9 percent this year and 8.8 percent in 2010. By comparison, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that on average, premiums will increase by 5.5 to 6.2 percent annually over the next few years. In fact, FEHBP premiums are rising so fast that nearly 100,000 federal employees have opted out of the program.
2. FEHBP members are also finding their choices cut back. Next year, 32 insurance plans will either drop out of the program or reduce their participation. Some 61,000 workers will lose their current coverage.
3. But former OPM director Linda Springer doubts that the agency has the “capacity, the staff, or the mission,” to be able to manage the new program. Taking on management of the new program could overburden OPM. “Ultimate, it would break the system.”
4. Medicare is currently $50-100 trillion in debt, depending on which accounting measure you use. Allowing younger workers to join the program is the equivalent of crowding a few more passengers onto the Titanic.
5. At the same time, Medicare under reimburses physicians, especially in rural areas. Expanding Medicare enrollment will both threaten the continued viability of rural hospitals and other providers, and also result in increased cost-shifting, driving up premiums for private insurance.
6. Medicaid is equally a budget-buster. The program now costs more than $330 billion per year, a cost that grew at a rate of roughly 10.7 percent annually. The program spends money by the bushel, yet under-reimburses providers even worse than Medicare.
7. Ultimately this so-called compromise would expand government health care programs and further squeeze private insurance, resulting in increased costs, result in higher insurance premiums, and provide a lower-quality of care.

Let’s be clear. The point of the health-care takeover was never to control costs, but to control the market. Obama and the Democrats are certain that they can transfer the money involved in every health care transaction from the provider/insurer side of the equation to the recipient side. In other words, they simply want to rearrange the entire transaction in a way that seems “fair” to the favored constituency. As long is doesn’t cost those people any more (for awhile at least) then actual costs don’t really matter.

That’s why they draft loss ratio provisions mandating insurers to pay out 85% of the premiums received in benefit claims (i.e. the companies can only “make” 15% over top of premium revenues, which percentage Congress assumes is mostly profit, and not going to overhead costs; most states set the loss ratio somewhere between 65% and 75%). And that’s also why Reid and his band of merry cohorts see fit to hitch the health care wagon to programs that are already money-losing. Accordingly, when the primary goal is simply control, actual costs become irrelevant except when making the sales pitch to a public weary of profligate government spending. Mix in some budget gimmicks (like starting the tax 3 or 4 years before actually beginning the program), and voila! You have a health care bill.

No matter what comes out of the Congress for Obama to sign, you can rest assured that it will (a) cost American taxpayers way more than is promised, and (b) further cede control over the market place to the government.

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9 Responses to Reid’s Secret Plan

  • Mix in some budget gimmicks (like starting the tax 3 or 4 years before actually beginning the program)

    Has this been taken into account in any of the cost analyses?  It seems obvious to me that if the government plans to collect taxes for a program three or four years prior, they will have spent that money on other budget items in the meantime.  So when the programs actually start, that three or four year amount will need to be accounted for.  Which means an additional tax increase to cover for the previous tax increase that was misspent.

  • Also, unintended consequences re: Medicaid? See also this, via NRO:
    http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YzBhZTA3NzRhYmUyMjExMDEzZWM0ZDQ4NTNlMTNiZTY=
    And, the final sentence has broad impact, no matter whose bill you’re looking at:
    “But when the official scorekeeper on Capitol Hill can miss a $725-billion item hidden in the thousands of pages of dense legislative text, you can’t help wondering what other ticking time bombs remain undiscovered.”

  • Most.  Ethical.  Congress.  EV-AH!

    If the GOP takes over in ’10, will people blithely accept Mitch McConnell or John Boehner writing, in effect, secret legislation and demanding that people trust them?

    I realize that my political ideology rather colors my thinking, but it seems to me that several trends over the last few years have been very, very bad for our country.  They include:

    1.  Congress deliberately rushing through huge bills in what seems an obvious effort to keep people from finding out what’s in them until it’s too late

    2.  Congress using what can only be described as orwellian language to describe the content of bills

    3.  Congress delegating increased power to unelected and even unaccountable officials of the executive branch

    4.  Clear and even brazen efforts by the media to slant, distort, hide, or otherwise falsely report news stories in accordance with a political agenda, blurring the line between “news” and “propaganda” almost into nothingness

    5.  Perversion of science to suit political goals

    6.  Increased public debt

    7.  Use of “scare tactics” to coerce public support of political goals

    8.  Members of the government and other “elites” given a pass on behavior that is unacceptable and even criminal for “regular” people

    I’m sure that people on the left and right would agree on many of these points, though I’m equally sure that they would point fingers at different culprits.  Even that is a bad thing: can we not see and condemn bad behavior no matter who does it?  If it’s wrong for one man or one party to do it, is it not wrong for ANY man or ANY party to do it?  Or have we all accepted the that tu quo que is a perfectly reasonable defense for any bad behavior?

  • If it were a good plan, it wouldn’t need to be ‘secret.’
    And if it works as well as the Stimulus, it will so compound the economic disaster facing the country that some real ‘hope and change’ will take place in 2010 and beyond.
    The Stimulus is hindering job growth. ( http://conservativeblog.thewebinfocenter.com ) The health care plan will hinder health.
     
     
     
     

  • Didn’t Nixon have a “secret plan” also?

  • I hate to say this, but who gives one rat’s stinking behind what Searchlight Harry does anymore? The man is so evidently brain-damaged (and my apologies – I am not slandering those with brain damage) that he thinks he is better than God. Well, he ain’t better than God – in fact, he is a bitter little man whose time in the US Senate is rapidly coming to a conclusion. Perhaps he is miffed that the good people of Nevada just won’t go along and re-elect him; perhaps he is upset that he has bribed and threatened and cajoled his way to winning election after election, and yet somehow that sh!t ain’t working anymore. Whatever the reason, Harry wants to go down in an explosion of stoopidity, and we his opposition are more than happy to see that it happens for him. In the meantime, as he continues to push this death care bill, he is making the Demmies more and more unpopular. Right now, the 8 most endangered seats in the US Senate are all held by Demmies, the first time that has happened in more than a century.

    So, send a note to Harry and his Merry Band of Loons: Keep it up, folks. Because in 2012, when your high God Obama runs for a second term and has his hand handed to him on a platter, your entire party is going to lose control of both houses again, but this time with a Republican President. Who’s the President? I have no idea, but Harry Reid, Chris Dodd, Arlen Spector, Roland Burris, and many others won’t be there to see it in January 2013. Maybe the can all stand behind Minority Leader Dick Durbin.

  • But is it a cunning plan?
    and is Pelosi ready to play Blackadder to Reid’s Baldric?

  • Civilization’s making a great leap forward! Hurr Hurr!