House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled her Pelosicare Democrat health care bill (pdf) yesterday under her a new bill number, H.R. 3962.
The bill was announced with much fanfare at an hour-long press conference. But the press conference had a few unusual features.
First, only persons on Pelosi’s “RSVP list” were permitted to attend.
Second, the thirty or so members of Congress in attendance didn’t answer any questions.
Nice feature for a press event.
The new bill is essentially the same bill as the old bill — H.R. 3200 – but they’ve added an extra thousand or so extra pages of statist policy, bringing the bill in at a whopping 1,990 pages of nationalized medicine.
The most revealing statement of the day was from the Speaker herself when introducing the Democrat members in attendance at the press event — she noted that a few of the committee chairmen were missing because they had committee hearings in progress.
“The important work of Congress does not stop just because we have an important mess, uh, uh, message to give to you,” Pelosi said.
She had it right the first time.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had an important message of his own.
“Befitting the importance of this legislation, the process of putting it together has been deliberative, transparent and open — the most deliberative, transparent and open process I have seen for any bill in my 29-year-career,” Hoyer said.
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, one of the committees of jurisdiction over health care, spoke with HUMAN EVENTS to go over a few particulars on the bill his press release dubbed, “Second verse, same as the first.”
“It’s still a massive government takeover of our health care system with tax increases on middle class Americans that will affect their ability to buy health care,” Camp said. “The government plan will force them out of private health care. The Medicare cuts are going to make health care less available to seniors. Fewer physicians will see Medicare patients and fewer hospitals will treat Medicare patients.”
One of the most important elements that remains in the bill is the end to private insurance.
“Because of the government-run plan, in five years you’re going to see millions of people lose the health care coverage they have now and be forced into a government-run plan,” Camp said.
“They also say in this bill that members of Congress are not required to enroll in the government plan,” Camp added. “If there’s one thing that people said this summer it’s that if you have a government plan, you better be in it. And they make that permissive. What they say is members of Congress may enroll in the public option. They don’t require it, so they don’t have to.”
Good enough for thee, but not for me.
They’re also going to impose a 2.5 percent tax medical devices that will be passed along to the consumer.
“There’s a new tax on hearing aids, wheelchairs and heart valves and other medical devices that certainly is going to hit people with incomes under $250,000,” Camp said. “People of all income levels need medical devices. And while they say it’s on manufacturers, it’s going to hit the people who have severe medical needs and require that medical equipment.”
“Americans’ health care is too important and too complex to risk on one gigantic bill that has been written behind closed doors,” Camp said. “While we still need to look at every detail, the end impact of this bill appears to be the same. Under the latest version of Democrats’ trillion dollar government takeover of health care, working families will still face higher taxes and higher health care premiums, millions of Americans will lose their current health plan, and seniors will bear the burden of one-half trillion dollars in Medicare cuts that will lead to fewer benefits and fewer doctors and hospitals to treat them.”
After the Pelosicare unveiling, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) spoke about Democrats apparently having missed the message of the town halls and tea parties throughout the summer break.
“The American people have spoken,” Boehner said. “Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have ignored them. Through the month of August, the American people let Members of Congress from both parties know that they didn’t want a government takeover of health care. That hasn’t changed.”
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) commented that the Speaker had closed access to the public for her press conference — which ironically mirrors what Pelosicare will do to medical care: no access.
“The striking thing that occurred today is when the Speaker had her announcement and unveiled their public option, she did so on public grounds in the West Front of the Capitol and frankly denied access to the public,” Cantor said. “I think that says a lot about what is going on behind closed doors in the process through which Democrats are going about crafting this legislation. The people in this country need to know exactly what is at stake.”
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) summed it up nicely.
“I think this is a day of profound disappointment for millions of Americans,” Pence said. “Democrats this summer after producing a thousand-page bill including mandates and bureaucracies and higher taxes heard from the American people, and in my lifetime heard from the American people in unprecedented ways. Hundreds of thousands turning out at town hall meetings, millions of people calling saying they want health care reform that lowers the cost of health insurance — they want reform that lowers the cost of health care — but they didn’t want government-run insurance paid for in hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes and mandates. But that’s exactly what they’ve gotten. The Democrats didn’t get the message.”
One of the bigger questions was asked and answered in a release yesterday by the House Republican Study Committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.): “So how much takeover can you cram into 2,000 pages? By comparison, the legislation that created Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, which now cost nearly $800 billion annually, was less than 300 pages long. So at 2,000 pages today, that’s a whole lot of government input for a plan the Speaker says won’t result in Washington taking over health care.”
Americans for Tax Reform did a breakdown of essential word counts and found that in this nearly 2,000-page leviathan bill the word “tax” is used 87 times, “taxable” is used 62 times, and “excise tax” is used 10 times. “Taxes” is used 15 times, “fee” 59 times, “penalty” 113, “require” 118 times, “must” 58 times and “shall” is used 3,424 times. The word “shall” represents a mandate, not a suggestion.
Brace yourselves, folks, there’s more to come in the form of an additional managers’ amendment that will be dropped sometime before the vote next week. That’s expected to be an additional 800 pages. That vote is expected not later than Saturday of next week.