Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) 2,074-page health care bill is a lot like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 2,032 page health care bill, without the Stupak amendment banning the federal funding of abortion. Harrycare pays for abortion through the premiums paid by tax dollars in the government-run plan.
The Democrats are using budget gimmickry to cloak the true cost of bill which, when fully implemented, will cost taxpayers $2.5 trillion dollars over the next ten years. Taxes begin in 2010 yet the bill is not fully implemented until 2014. This allows Democrats to hide the true “10-year” cost since the majority of the spending is being deferred for four years.
If passing health care “reform” is so urgent, why is the bill’s implementation deferred for such a substantial length of time while taxes are assessed? Budget trickery.
The breakdown looks like this: actual gross spending of $1.2 trillion on coverage (not $848 billion as advertised) which includes spending for Medicaid/CHIP ($374 billion), CLASS Act Spending ($15 billion), outlays for exchange subsidies ($349 billion), government run plan payments ($131 billion), risk adjustment payments ($118 billion), other Medicare/Medicaid spending ($130 billion), small employer tax credits ($24 billion), and revenue effect of exchange premium credits ($103 billion).
Like the House-passed bill, Harrycare also cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars. In another cost sleight of hand it uses unrealistic permanent cuts to payment updates that, if implemented, would drive even more health care providers out of the Medicare system. In addition to these deep cuts, the bill also establishes a board created to meet arbitrary spending targets that would result in rationing of resources through further mandatory cuts to Medicare.
These mandated cuts would cause new measures to be implemented such as increased premiums on Medicare prescription drug plans. According to the Congressional Budget Office, those hardest hit will be low-income enrollees in Medicare Advantage who will lose up to half of their coverage for things like vision care, dental coverage and flu shots — especially those who cannot afford expensive Medi-gap coverage.
And, of course, Harrycare does not include the $210 billion dollar “doc fix” that seeks to make up for the current underpayment of doctors in the Medicare system that the House passed as a separate piece of legislation yesterday. The Senate rejected Reid’s attempt to pass “doc fix” last month.
Harrycare also imposes a new $28 billion taxes on businesses who cannot afford to purchase insurance for their employees — which will ultimately result in lost jobs and lower wages. The Heritage Foundation found in a recent study that as many as 5.2 million low income workers could suffer reduced hours, lower wages or even lose their jobs due to this tax increase. Another 10.2 million could lose wages and benefits.
HHS Empowered to Pay for Abortions through “Public Option”
The Senate bill would empower the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to decide benefits, mandates and choices allowed in all health care plans, not just the government option. Without the specific Stupak language prohibiting federal abortion funding, the HHS Secretary is free to include abortion coverage in the government-run plans.
Democratic leaders claim the bill doesn’t pre-empt state abortion funding laws, yet the bill does require every government exchange to offer at least one plan that covers abortion. Some states prohibit abortion coverage in insurance markets regulated by the state.
First Vote is the Key
Rationing is in there facilitated by the comparative effectiveness research we all got a first-hand look at when new “guidelines” were issued for breast cancer screening this week. In the not too distant future, should the Democrats’ government takeover of health care pass, these will be mandates replacing the “guidelines.”
There are taxes on health care, taxes on medical devices (like pacemakers and heart valves) and even a hidden state tax increase as a result of the unfunded mandate on states to expand Medicaid. The bill would require state Medicaid to cover everyone with an income at 133% of the federal poverty level or below ($14,403 for an individual/ $29,326 for a family of four). This dooms these lower-income families to the absolute worst medical delivery system in America.
Harrycare is another massive tax and spend (and spend and spend) government takeover of health care. I’m sure no one is actually surprised.
Reid filed cloture on the Motion to Proceed to H.R. 3590 yesterday, which is the Pelosicare bill that Reid rejects. Since a tax bill cannot originate in the Senate, Reid will attempt to call the House bill to the floor on Saturday night by a vote that is expected around 8:00 p.m. He will probably then offer an amendment that replaces Pelosicare in its entirety with Harrycare.
In another setback to the bill late yesterday, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said if the abortion language in the Senate bill is not toughened during the amendment process, which is unlikely, he would participate in a filibuster. The bill only needs one Democrat to join all 40 Republicans to kill the bill in the Senate through filibuster.
Brady to Geithner: Will You Step Down?
In a heated exchange at the oversight hearing yesterday, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), top House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, confronted Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on his mishandling of the stimulus funds as well as his contributions to the economy’s demise in his prior capacity at the Federal Reserve in New York.
Brady repeatedly asked the cabinet secretary to render his resignation. Of course, he refused to render the resignation and all is well in Obamaland.