Free Markets, Free People
Obama’s market defying “magic” health care reform proposal
The media has essentially played up the attempt at bipartisanship and the call for immediate action from President Obama’s health care reform proposal yesterday given with the usual background of lab coated “doctors”.
The two things stressed by the media are nothing new. In fact, nothing in the proposal is nothing particularly new. But it does provide, in a distilled example, why it is so much blarney. But you have to get to the proposals themselves to understand that. So:
Essentially, my proposal would change three things about the current health care system:
First, it would end the worst practices of insurance companies. No longer would they be able to deny your coverage because of a pre-existing condition. No longer would they be able to drop your coverage because you got sick. No longer would they be able to force you to pay unlimited amounts of money out of your own pocket. No longer would they be able to arbitrarily and massively raise premiums like Anthem Blue Cross recently tried to do in California. Those practices would end.
So, first no pre-existing conditions, no ability to drop or deny coverage and unlimited payouts. But no ability to raise premiums (obviously without the fed’s say so) to account for the increased cost. A sure fire formula for financial health. Bring the sickest or those with the most chronic diseases on board, give them unlimited payouts and have no mechanism for recovering the cost they bring through premium increases.
Of course he’d have you believe this will work just fine in any government run system as well (the secret there is to cut payments to medical care providers). This part of the proposal should be known as the “big lie” because just like the spending rate of the US government at this point, it is an “unsustainable” program that will see private insurance go out of business within a decade or so.
On to number two:
Second, my proposal would give uninsured individuals and small business owners the same kind of choice of private health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves. Because if it’s good enough for Members of Congress, it’s good enough for the people who pay their salaries. The reason federal employees get a good deal on health insurance is that we all participate in an insurance marketplace where insurance companies give better rates and coverage because we give them more customers. This is an idea that many Republicans have embraced in the past. And my proposal says that if you still can’t afford the insurance in this new marketplace, we will offer you tax credits to do so – tax credits that add up to the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history. After all, the wealthiest among us can already buy the best insurance there is, and the least well-off are able to get coverage through Medicaid. But it’s the middle-class that gets squeezed, and that’s who we have to help.
The reason federal employees get a good rate is they number over a million and can do what the rest of us can’t – buy their insurance from whomever they wish. However, individuals only buy 6% of health insurance and small businesses don’t bring those sorts of numbers to a pool. Essentially Members of Congress exploit the buying power of the high number of federal employees and with a few twists of their own, get insurance not available to the general public because of laws they’ve written. Unless there is the ability to sell insurance across state lines where insurance companies actually compete for business, that’s not going to happen with his proposal. And, by the way, there’s nothing in the Senate bill which includes the mechanism for these “exchanges”, and it is that bill he’s calling for to be passed. So this claim is all smoke and mirrors.
Notice too he plans on pushing a good number of people onto Medicaid – a government system funded and run by the states. As we all know, financially, the states are in excellent shape and this burden won’t have any effect on their future financial stability, will it?
Obama goes on:
Now, it’s true that all of this will cost money – about $100 billion per year. But most of this comes from the nearly $2 trillion a year that America already spends on health care. It’s just that right now, a lot of that money is being wasted or spent badly. With this plan, we’re going to make sure the dollars we spend go toward making insurance more affordable and more secure. We’re also going to eliminate wasteful taxpayer subsidies that currently go to insurance and pharmaceutical companies, set a new fee on insurance companies that stand to gain as millions of Americans are able to buy insurance, and make sure the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share of Medicare.
This is flat out disingenuous. A) no refusal, no payment caps, no premium increases, B) shoving people into Medicaid (thus it goes on state budgets) C) government subsidies. All for $100 billion a year? It will cost that much a year just to set up the bureaucracy.
And the benefits you get from this brilliance?
The bottom line is, our proposal is paid for. And all new money generated in this plan would go back to small businesses and middle-class families who can’t afford health insurance. It would lower prescription drug prices for seniors. And it would help train new doctors and nurses to provide care for American families.
You have to love the line, “all the new money generated in this plan”. It is the ultimate “something for nothing” scam. All these new benefits with no cost. In fact, as we eliminate pre-existing conditions, control what insurance companies can charge and require they pay unlimited payouts, we can expand Medicaid, lower prescription drug prices and train new doctors and nurses – and it’s all paid for.
Finally, my proposal would bring down the cost of health care for millions – families, businesses, and the federal government. We have now incorporated most of the serious ideas from across the political spectrum about how to contain the rising cost of health care – ideas that go after the waste and abuse in our system, especially in programs like Medicare. But we do this while protecting Medicare benefits, and extending the financial stability of the program by nearly a decade.
The eternal promise of every shady politician – “not to worry, we’ll just go after the 30% waste, fraud and abuse in the system we presently run to pay for all of this. We promise.” They never have and they never will. They don’t know how and if they do, they haven’t the capability to eliminate it or, apparently, make a significant dent in it. The problem has persisted at that level since the program’s inception. So have the promises. In the meantime they’ll do everything in their power to cripple the private insurance industry and eventually run them out of business.
And if there is a “biggest lie” in what he said yesterday, it is this:
Our cost-cutting measures mirror most of the proposals in the current Senate bill, which reduces most people’s premiums and brings down our deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next two decades. And those aren’t my numbers – they are the savings determined by the CBO, which is the Washington acronym for the nonpartisan, independent referee of Congress.
Yeah, if you don’t consider the double counting, removal of the “doc fix” and any number of cheap accounting tricks that ended up putting Enron execs in jail. Paul Ryan took care of that bogus claim during the health care summit – it is worth your while to review his work.
Those are the Obama “proposals”. They essentially mirror the Senate bill which I and many others consider to be an abomination. This was Obama’s 31 or 32nd speech on the subject. Nothing has changed and the lies and distortions remain pretty much the same.
We have to hope that there are enough Democrats in the House that see that bill as something they can’t support. Obviously that’s the case at the moment (or it would have passed by now). Keep the pressure on, because the victory has to be in the House. The reconciliation nonsense is moot if it never leaves the House.