Free Markets, Free People

Alan Grayson


House repeals ObamaCare and Democrats are, well, acting like Democrats

The Republican controlled House kept its promise and repealed ObamaCare with a large majority. As I’ve said in the past, symbolic or not, these types of votes must be made. Republicans must raise the issue in the House, vote on it and make the Democratic controlled Senate kill it or, if it happens to somehow slip through the Senate, make Obama veto it. Again, it’s about the record – and for once in his life, Obama is actually going to have to run on one in 2012.

That said, it was incredible to listen to Democrats attempt to justify Obamacare yesterday. They are our lawmakers. Yet it became apparent yesterday, at least listening to a few of them, that they simply don’t know their business or what they’re talking about.

Take Shelia Jackson Lee for instance:

"Frankly, I would just say to you, this is about saving lives. Jobs are very important; we created jobs," Jackson Lee said. "But even the title of their legislation, H.R. 2, ‘job-killing’ — this is killing Americans if we take this away, if we repeal this bill."

So, Republicans are "killing Americans" with repeal. There’s that civil discourse right when it is necessary, no?

But that wasn’t the worst of her mutterings:

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, said on Tuesday afternoon that repealing the national health care law would violate the Constitution.

Arguing that the Commerce Clause provides the constitutional basis for ObamaCare, Jackson Lee said repealing the law by passing Republicans’ H.R. 2 violates both the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process and the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Say what?  Frankly, anyone with a elementary school civics class under their belt could see thorough this convoluted and daft bit of nonsense. The ignorance in that “argument” (not to mention the logic) is appalling.  But it seemed to be a sort of desperation talking point that some Democrats adopted as their “defense” of the law.  John Lewis also invoked the 14th Amendment as a reason for keeping ObamaCare – oh, and the Declaration of Independence thinking he was quoting the preamble to the Constitution:

“Well, when you start off with the Preamble of the Constitution, you talk about the pursuit of happiness," said Lewis. "You go to the 14th Amendment–it’s equal protection under the law and we have not repealed the 14th Amendment. People have a right to have health care. It’s not a privilege but a right."

Of course it’s not the Preamble to the Constitution that talks about the “pursuit of happiness” at all, it’s the Declaration of Independence.  You’d think a lawmaker would know that.  But then you’d also think he’d know what constitutes a “right” and what doesn’t wouldn’t you?  Obviously though, that’s hoping for too much.

Some Democrats insisted on civil discourse to broadcast their unhappiness with the Republican effort to repeal ObamaCare.  Like Rep. Steve Cohen:

“They say it’s a government takeover of health care, a big lie just like Goebbels," Cohen said. "You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually, people believe it.  Like blood libel.  That’s the same kind of thing. “

[…]

“The Germans said enough about the Jews and people believed it–believed it and you have the Holocaust.  We heard on this floor, government takeover of health care.  Politifact said the biggest lie of 2010 was a government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover,"

Yup … Democrats can jam something through that the American people were clear they didn’t want using every Parliamentary trick in the book, but when the GOP steps up to repeal it, they’re Nazis.  Nice Steve – really nice.  You sound like Alan Grayson.

Speaking of Alan Grayson, he’s still puking up nonsense.  Apparently he didn’t get the memo that the “blame Sarah Palin for Tucson” narrative is a big FAIL.  You remember Mr. Civil Discourse, don’t you?  The guy who said “"If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly?"  Yeah, him:

"As I observed on MSNBC last week, there has been a stream of violence and threats of violence by the right wing against Democrats," Grayson wrote in the email. "Gabby warned against it, and then became a terrible victim of it. Palin has instigated it, and then tried to pretend that it doesn’t exist,” he wrote."

And as most of us observed while you were in Congress, to include the voters in your former district, you’re a loon, Mr. Grayson.  However he’s a loon who somehow found his way to Congress for a while.  Says something about our low standards, doesn’t it?  And it also points to how seriously Democrats are about embracing “civil discourse”, wouldn’t you say?

~McQ


The Grayson Medicare-For-All Bill

Everyone’s favorite maniac congressman, Alan Grayson of Florida, introduced a bill yesterday that would quite simply open up Medicare to all citizens and legal residents of America. It is the purest “public option” proposed thus far. And it might just work.

Already the leftosphere is singing Hosannas. From Firedoglake:

As quixotic efforts go, I’ll take Alan Grayson’s HR 4789, a four page bill which “allows any American to buy into Medicare at cost.” You cannot possibly get more simple than that, it would not add one cent to the federal deficit, and it would offer people the option of purchasing Medicare (and its provider network) or purchasing an insurance product from a private company.

To Down With Tyranny:

This evening Alan Grayson, Orlando’s spectacular and effective fighter for ordinary working families in a Congress that overwhelmingly caters to wealthy and powerful special interests, introduced the most real and straight forward healthcare reform bill that’s come up so far. Unless Obama makes the House leadership kill H.R. 4789– a distinct possibility– this should pass the House more easily than anything that’s been proposed for healthcare reform so far. And I bet it could even win cloture in the Senate! His bill offers the opportunity for everyone in the country to buy into Medicare. “Obviously,” said Grayson, “America wants and needs more competition in health coverage, and a public option offers that. But it’s just as important that we offer people not just another choice, but another kind of choice. A lot of people don’t want to be at the mercy of greedy insurance companies that will make money by denying them the care that they need to stay healthy, or to stay alive. We deserve to have a real alternative… The government spent billions of dollars creating a Medicare network of providers that is only open to one-eighth of the population. That’s like saying, ‘Only people 65 and over can use federal highways.’ It is a waste of a very valuable resource and it is not fair. This idea is simple, it makes sense, and it deserves an up-or-down vote.”

To the Huffington Post:

When Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) first became a father, his health insurance company refused to pay for the birth of the child, and Grayson had to pay $10,000.

Grayson told the House that story Tuesday during an impassioned and personal speech urging fellow lawmakers to support legislation that would allow Americans to buy into Medicare. Grayson introduced a four-page bill Tuesday that would make that a possibility. He asked would-be opponents to grant Americans the option to buy into the same health care plan that the federal government already offers.

And, of course, Daily Kos:

So instead of pontificating about how there is no SP or PO in the current HCR bill, he is solving the problem by offering a separate simple bill that would essentially do the same thing…allow Medicare for All…

[...]

There would be no pre-existing conditions and no medical underwriting, presumably the pools would be large enough to spread the risk.

There is no funding required for this since subsidies are not proposed for this bill. It would essentially be a PO starter. Then it could be added as an option to the exchange and subsidies could in theory be applied just like any other plan in the exchange.

We should support an “Up or Down” vote on this plan!!!

The bill’s genius is its simplicity, and specifically the promise to charge premiums to new enrollees, which would appear to make the bill deficit neutral. Here’s the entire text:

H. R. 4789

To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for an option for any citizen or permanent resident of the United States to buy into Medicare.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 9, 2010

Mr. GRAYSON (for himself, Mr. FILNER, Mr. POLIS of Colorado, Ms. PINGREE of Maine, Ms. SHEA-PORTER, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts, Mr. KUCINICH, Ms. EDWARDS of Maryland, Ms. WATSON, and Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means

A BILL

To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide for an option for any citizen or permanent resident of the United States to buy into Medicare.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Public Option Act’ or the `Medicare You Can Buy Into Act’.

SEC. 2. UNIVERSAL MEDICARE BUY-IN OPTION.

(a) In General- Part A of title XVIII of the Social Security Act is amended–

(1) in section 1818(a), by striking `or 1818A’ and inserting `, 1818A, or 1818B’; and

(2) by inserting after section 1818A the following new section:

`UNIVERSAL BUY-IN

`Sec. 1818B.

`(a) In General- (a) Every individual who–

`(1) is a resident of the United States;

`(2) is either (A) a citizen or national of the United States, or (B) an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence; and

`(3) is not otherwise entitled to benefits under this part or eligible to enroll under this part;

shall be eligible to enroll in the insurance program established by this part. An individual may enroll under this section only in such manner and form as may be prescribed in regulations, and only during an enrollment period prescribed in or under this section.

`(b) Enrollment; Coverage- The Secretary shall establish enrollment periods and coverage under this section consistent with the principles for establishment of enrollment periods and coverage for individuals under section 1818, except that no entitlement to benefits under this part shall be effective before the first day of the first calendar year beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.

`(c) Premiums-

`(1) IN GENERAL- The provisions of subsections (d)(1), (d)(2), and (d)(3) of section 1818 insofar as they apply to premiums (including collection of premiums) shall apply to premiums and collection of premiums under this section, except that–

`(A) paragraphs (4) and (5) of section 1818 shall not be applicable; and

`(B) the estimate of the monthly actuarial rate under section 1818(d) shall be computed and applied under this paragraph based upon costs incurred for individuals within each age cohort specified in paragraph (2) rather than for all individuals age 65 and older.

`(2) AGE COHORTS- The age cohorts specified in this paragraph are as follows:

`(A) Individuals under 19 years of age.

`(B) Individuals at least 19 years of age but not more than 25 years of age.

`(C) Individuals at least 26 years of age and not more than 35 years of age.

`(D) Individuals at least 36 years of age and not more than 45 years of age.

`(E) Individuals at least 46 years of age and not more than 55 years of age.

`(F) Individuals at least 56 years of age and not more than 64 years of age.

`(d) Treatment- An individual enrolled under this part pursuant to this section shall not be treated as enrolled under this part (or any other part of this title) for purposes of obtaining medical assistance for medicare cost-sharing or otherwise under title XIX.’.

There are no hidden takeovers of medical reporting systems, individual mandates, abortion mandates, or anything else. Nor is anything about pre-existing conditions, “Cadillac plans”, or any of the other issues plaguing ObamaCare at the moment. If you want to buy in, you can. If not, then so be it. So simple it’s almost irresistible. Especially when one considers the popularity of a public option in most opinion polls done over the last year. To be sure, when people are confronted with the costs of a public option, or most anything else promised via ObamaCare, they lose interest. But Grayson’s bill doesn’t have that problem, seemingly, because it’s charging premiums, and there aren’t even any provisions calling for subsidies. Again, it’s almost irresistible.

However, if we game out how this would actually work, then we start to see the problems.

First off, since the vast majority of us get insurance for ourselves and our families through our employers, we won’t likely be buying into Medicare. Nothing about Grayson’s bill changes the employer/health insurance relationship, so as long as we stay employed, we’ll remain a part of that system. Seniors, of course, are already a part of this system, so there’s no change there as well. Those most affected will be part-time employees not otherwise covered, the self-employed, the unemployed and the basically uninsurable. Other than the self-employed, the remainder of these likely Grayson bill participants are not likely to be able to afford the full cost of Medicare premiums, assuming that the government actually charges full price. So the emergence of subsidies is almost guaranteed, which will cost taxpayers even more.

Secondly, the more people who enroll in Medicare, the more providers accepting Medicare payments that will be necessary to accommodate them. Since Medicare pays doctors at a lower rate than private insurers, doctors and hospitals won’t want to take on many of these new patients, who basically cost them money. Just by way of example, get out your trusty phone book, call around for a dentist in your area who takes Medicaid payments, and see if they have any openings in the next year or two. That’s what would happen with a Medicare-for-all plan as well. Oh, and don’t forget that Medicare turns down requests for reimbursement at a much higher rate than private insurers do.

Most significantly, with a public insurer in the market place, one who can dictate prices and standards to providers, and who does not have to turn a profit in order to stay in business, the entire health insurance dynamic will be irrevocably altered. In order to stay in business at all, private insurance companies will need to join the Medicare and Medicare Advantage network, and will subject to whims and vagaries of Congress when it comes to reimbursements, executive pay, and whatever else suits Capitol Hill’s fancy (which, naturally, will be a great source of graft). Restrictions on denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, and mandates for covering everything from toe fungus cream to abortion will be introduced to the menagerie of legislation supporting Grayson’s simple four-page bill, until one day the idea of just taxing taking contributions from everyone’s paycheck for Medicare insurance and giving it to them “for free” is but a small step that might be done in a three-page bill. Eventually, Medicare-for-all and universal health care will be indistinguishable, including the waiting lines, “death panels” and substandard care.

Just one small, simple, four-page step. That’s all it will take. And it might just work.

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