The House Rules Committee is set to meet on Thursday, to begin a process that will culminate in a vote to repeal ObamaCare on January 12th.
Senate Democrats saw the Republicans pouring on canvas and loading their guns, so they decided to fire a warning shot across their bow. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and four members of his caucus produced a letter warning House Speaker John Boehner they would block any effort to repeal the legislation. This is not unexpected, but if Reid manages to keep ObamaCare’s tentacles wrapped around America’s throat until 2012, copies of that letter will start turning up in Republican campaign ads. Voters compelled to choose between keeping ObamaCare or purging Democrats from the Senate might not find that a difficult choice.
Reid’s letter also hilariously warns about the “unintended consequences” of repealing the health care bill, which is a gigantic mass of unintended consequences that devours jobs and decent health care plans as it slobbers across the land. The particular pitfall Reid has in mind is the fabled Medicare “donut hole,” in which high drug costs exceed the basic coverage provided by Medicare Part D. One of ObamaCare’s provisions is a 50 percent discount on the cost of drugs they buy when they’re stuck in the donut hole.
These discounts haven’t gone into effect yet, but as a down payment, seniors were sent $250 checks. The total cost of this stopgap measure will exceed a billion dollars, by the time it’s finished. As with other government giveaways, this one was bungled right from the start, as seniors in Vermont were sent entirely unnecessary rebates even though a state program already covered them.
What’s that donut hole doing in Medicare, anyway? Why, it was put there on purpose, when President Bush’s prescription drug benefit was added in 2003… in order to reduce the apparent cost of the benefit. That’s right – the donut hole is an accounting trick used to make a previous round of “free” government health care look less expensive than it actually was. A few years down the road, that little bit of spreadsheet magic became an unbearable, almost inhuman burden upon senior citizens, and the price tag for Medicare Part D popped right up to where its critics said it should have been all along.
ObamaCare is brimming with this kind of accounting trickery, designed to pull numbers out of the Congressional Budget Office that wouldn’t have sent voters pouring into the streets of Washington with pitchforks and torches. Among them were hundreds of billions that were supposed to be saved by… cutting payments to doctors who accept Medicare patients. Watch while we fill in this prescription drug donut hole, and try to ignore the howling void of ObamaCare creeping up behind you.
Who pays for those ObamaCare prescription drug discounts? The pharmaceutical companies do. They are compelled to provide the discounts if they participate in Medicare Part D. Contrary to socialist mythology, drug companies aren’t charging double what their drugs are worth because they’re greedy monsters. The cost of those 50% discounts will be made up in other ways. More redistribution for everyone to enjoy! A fat lot of good those discounts will do for seniors when no doctors will accept their increasingly worthless Medicare coverage anyway.
House Republicans should eagerly call Harry Reid’s bluff, turn into the wind, and engage the Democrats over ObamaCare with all guns. Americans who watch the battle will learn more about ObamaCare… and they more they learn about it, the more they hate it. Let this be the hill Senate Democrats die on.