New House Health Bill Beyond Redemption

Angry constituents made it clear this past summer that ObamaCare was too expensive, too intrusive and moving too quickly through the legislative process. So you’d think Congress would take those issues to heart when it merged a bill in the House of Representatives that will dramatically affect every American’s health care. You’d think wrong

Look closely at the latest House bill, HR 3962. This 1,990-page beast contains all the problematic issues Americans had with HR 3200 — and then adds more, such as give a troubling amount of power to a health czar. Here’s a quick rundown of just five fatal flaws this health legislation has that will impact your way of life.

1. A slightly revised public plan still puts the feds on track for control of health insurance. The new version of a government-run insurance plan may make concessions in its payment rates to address concerns from doctors and hospitals, who receive a lower level of reimbursement for patients on Medicare than they do from private insurance. But medical providers, take note: A less “robust” public option today will almost certainly be a more “robust” option tomorrow.

Look no further than Medicare, which initially paid private rates. Now, private insurers make up the difference in the payment gaps. Plus, HR 3962 allows an appointed “Health Choices Commissioner” to define precisely what private health plans must, may and may not cover, as well as what premiums insurers can charge. So even if this public option is less “robust,” this bill already puts Americans in government-run health plans, even if it’s technically through private insurers.

2. The House bill would create an explosion in welfare spending. Maybe members of Congress forgot this, but Medicaid is a welfare program for the poor. It’s also one of the worst-performing public health programs. Instead of doing anything innovative to fix Medicaid and its out-of-control spending growth, HR 3962 throws more money at the problem and increases the eligibility of American families able to get into the program. Americans are going to be in for a rude surprise when they’re stuck in a Medicaid program, which has been shown to have fewer doctors and benefits than its private counterpart.

3. The feds are in charge of your health insurance benefits. Don’t want to pay for coverage of fertility treatments or holistic medicine in your insurance package? If the government decides they’re necessary, you’ll have no say in the matter, according to HR 3962. The bill creates a new minimum federal standard benefit that will eventually apply to all health plans. It also establishes a new “Health Benefits Advisory Committee,” which would make detailed recommendations on what should and shouldn’t be covered in health insurance. The Health and Human Services secretary would then have the authority to impose these rules on private plans.

4. You’ll be forced to buy a product you may not like. If your employer doesn’t provide health insurance or you decide you’d rather forgo the government’s mandated health benefits package, expect to pay a 2.5 percent extra income tax. If HR 3962 passes, individuals and families who remain uninsured pay a tax that wouldn’t pay for anything. The bill also contains higher insurance premiums that low and moderate-income individuals would have to pay for health coverage to avoid the tax.

5. Your boss will be forced to cap your wages to pay for everyone’s health care. This bill imposes a new 8 percent tax on employers who don’t cover specified percentages of their workers’ health insurance. Employers will have to get that money from somewhere; much of it will come from cutting wages or other benefits. Plus, since this tax is lower than the general cost of providing health care, especially for low-income employees, businesses are going to have an incentive to either cut wages or jobs, or pay the fine and force their workers to join the public health plan.  

Oh, yes, and there is that little issue about cost — $1.055 trillion over 10 years to be exact, according to the Congressional Budget Office. At a time when the nation is trillions in debt, Congress wants to create a new health care entitlement that will speed up our fiscal insolvency, push new taxes on Americans in all income brackets and have a greater say over our health decisions.

There is no saving this bill or tweaking around the edges. We need to scrap it and start over with real reform efforts that actually have bipartisan support.