CBO: Kennedy Healthcare Spends Another Trillion

The first Democrat health care proposal to emerge from Congressional Budget Office (CBO) preliminary scoring is a political and financial disaster for a Democrat leadership set on the government takeover of health care.  The non-partisan CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) yesterday released the preliminary analysis of the major provisions in the bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).  The Kennedy bill, entitled the Affordable Health Choices Act, is the effort by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP).

The CBO estimates the bill would cost a staggering $1trillion ($1,000,000,000,000) taxpayer dollars over the next 10 years and would only result in 16 million more people being covered by health insurance.  This model assumes that only 10% of those now covered would lose their employer-funded health care and fall out of private insurance coverage due to a public plan being offered.  

The 16 million additionally covered is a net figure.

The analysis warns throughout that it is not a comprehensive analysis because there are many holes still left in the bill.  The report says, “… [T]he draft legislation does not contain provisions that would change the Medicaid program, although it envisions that the authority to extend Medicaid coverage will be added during Senate consideration of the bill. (By itself, adding such provisions would increase the proposal’s budgetary costs and would also yield a larger increase in the number of people who have health insurance.). The draft legislation also indicates that the committee is considering whether to incorporate other features, including a ‘public health insurance option’ and requirements for ‘shared responsibility’ by employers. Depending on their details, such provisions could also have substantial effects on our analysis.”

Stay tuned.

Sens. McConnell, Kyl Introduce Bill to Prevent Health Care Rationing

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky joined with Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona to fire the first salvo against health care rationing today, introducing legislation that prohibits the federal government from denying or delaying health-care treatment to a patient based on cost.
The Preserving Access to Targeted, Individualized, and Effective New Treatments and Services (PATIENTS) Act of 2009 bars the federal government from using data gleaned from “comparative effectiveness research” — a tool commonly used by socialized health-care systems to ration health care based on cost rather than effectiveness — to deny coverage, treatment or otherwise micromanage the practice of medicine.
“We all agree we need health care reform, but Americans want their doctors — not government bureaucrats — to continue to help them make their health care decisions,” McConnell said.  “Doctors should have as much good information as possible when treating their patients, but the government shouldn’t use this information to deny access to treatment or procedures that patients and doctors choose to pursue.”

“Americans don’t want Washington-run insurance companies any more than they want Washington-run car companies,” Kyl said.  “We should stick to a basic principle that all Americans should be able to choose the doctor, hospital, and health plan of their choice.  No Washington bureaucrat should interfere with that right, or substitute the government’s judgment for that of a physician.”
The so-called stimulus bill passed earlier this year provided $1.1 billion for comparative effectiveness research.  The bill did not include necessary safeguards that would prevent the research data from being used for nefarious purposes such as the rationing of health care.  
The Acting National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Raynard Kington recently told the House Committee on Appropriations that the NIH could use stimulus money to evaluate the cost of health care treatments “to guide future policies that support the allocation of health resources for the treatment of acute and chronic diseases.”  “Allocation of health resources” in bureaucrat-speak means rationing.
I spoke with Kyl after the announcement about the dire funding shortages in Great Britain for their government-run health care system.  Baroness Warnock, one of Britain’s top medical ethics experts, is calling for euthanizing old people with dementia.  Warnock, one of Britain’s most garlanded intellectuals, said recently, “If you are demented, you are wasting people’s lives, your family’s lives, and you are wasting the resources of the National Health Service.”  

Warnock also said that old people with dementia have a duty to die.  She said she hopes that people are soon “licensed to put others down.”

Kyl told me that in Oregon, their government-run health care system, The Oregon Plan, comes close to that already.

“In Oregon, there are cases in which people have applied for different kinds of treatment,” Kyl said.  “The Oregon Plan has gotten back to them and told them that, no, they would not pay for the treatment but they would pay for end of life services.”

Great.  Oregon won’t pay for a costly medical treatment, but they’ll pay to take you out.  Government-run health care at its finest.

Alexander and Pence Talk Energy and War Supplemental

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairmen of their respective Senate and House Republican Conferences, held a joint pen and pad session with reporters yesterday. Alexander was there to talk about energy and the recent Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Alexander has a plan for building 100 new nuclear power plants in the next 20 years “for a rebirth of industrial America while we figure out renewable energy.”

“Nuclear power is an answer that seems to be missing in action in the debates,” Alexander said.  “Today, nuclear power plants produce 70% of the pollution free, carbon free electricity. Solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy excluding hydro power produce 6%.  So if you’re really serious about clean air, about climate change, about American produced energy and about reindustrializing the Midwest with reliable, low-cost electricity, it’s hard to see how anyone could ignore nuclear power.”

“It’s a technology that our country invented yet we’ve put it on hold for the last 30 years,” Alexander added.  “We haven’t built one new nuclear power plant in that time. At the same time, France is 80% nuclear and selling electricity to Germany.  China and India are building nuclear power plants with our help.  The President has even said that Iran has the right to build nuclear power plants, so why don’t we?”

At the session, Pence spoke about the hottest issue of last week, the coming debate and likely vote today on the larded up and mangled War Supplemental bill to fund our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I believe you can anticipate strong Republican opposition to the War Supplemental legislation based on the fact that the Democrats have chosen to include a global bailout in what should be a bill funding our troops,” Pence said.  “In fact, Democrats actually cut money from the House version of the bill — cut the troop money in this supplemental bill to fund the global bailout.  While the CBO scores it at $5 billion, it is $108 billion dollars in loans. We’re going to take that case to the American people on the House floor this week.  We think war funding bills should be about war funding.  We don’t think including this global bailout in the bill is appropriate.”