Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
The Obama Administration’s call for healthcare reform has changed from providing universal care, affordable healthcare insurance and increasing the quality of care to healthcare reform is a moral imperative.
“President Obama has called it a “core ethical and moral obligation.’’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced her bill by saying, “We also have a moral responsibility to pass health insurance reform and we will do so this year.’’ And Senate majority leader Harry Reid has opined that “health care is a moral issue.’’
I believe America has a moral obligation to provide affordable healthcare insurance with a guarantee of universal coverage to every American. President Obama has chosen the wrong strategy. His plan will not achieve universal coverage or be affordable to many individuals or to the nation. It does not solve any of the important structural problems in the healthcare system.
The Democrats, by their own admission, are focused on getting a bill, any bill, passed by Christmas that will put the country on a path to a single party payer.
“Extending this successful program to those between 55 and 64 would be the largest expansion of Medicare in 44 years and would perhaps get us on the path to a single-payer model,” said Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York.
The proposed healthcare insurance exchange creates 20,000 new government jobs that will create a bloated bureaucracy. It will not lower premiums. It will increase government spending on healthcare.
The Congressional Budget Office stated that the cost of healthcare premiums through Health Insurance Exchange would be 10 to 13% higher than the cost of healthcare insurance under the present government rules and regulations.
“People buying health insurance under the "exchange" in Senate Democrats’ health care bill would pay higher premiums than they would under current law for their plans.”
One of President Obama’s goals was to provide affordable healthcare coverage. The CBO and CFO estimate dismiss this goal. President Obama’s Healthcare Reform will provide new subsides paying almost 60% of the premiums for over 50% of the population. He will mandate insurance for people who might not want it at a higher price than they are currently paying. The mandates are going to force Americans to purchase insurance they might want to buy.
The winner is the healthcare insurance industry. It will be the administrative service provider for the healthcare reform bill.
“According to CBO, however, "the majority of nongroup enrollees (about 57 percent) would receive subsidies via the new insurance exchanges, and those subsidies . . . would cover nearly two-thirds of the total premium." That means that while premiums cost more, most people required to buy them under the legislation’s mandate to have insurance would actually pay far less than they would otherwise.”
This is another Robin Hood example of the Obama administration’s political philosophy. It will bankrupt the country. Senator Max Baucus turned implications of the CBO report on its head and called it good news.
"The vast majority of Americans will see lower premiums than they would if we don’t pass health reform," Baucus said, citing the estimate. "We also learned that the millions of Americans who are underinsured—who don’t have enough coverage to prevent them from financial ruin—would be able to purchase significantly more coverage for an affordable price."
Who will be paying the subsidies? I assume it will be the government. It will borrow the money, print the money or increase taxes. The question is maybe the people who cannot afford the subsidized premium can afford the subsidized premiums?
"The Democrat bill will actually increase premiums for American families," Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement Monday. "A bill that’s being sold as a way to reduce costs actually drives them up."
Senate Democrats have provided few details about their latest health care proposal. This much seems clear. Anyone who wants to buy the same health benefits as members of Congress, or to buy coverage through Medicare, should be prepared for premium increases. Medicare premiums are not cheap.
The cost to a family earning $54,000, slightly more than the current median household income, will have a monthly premium costs of more than $825 in post tax dollars.
The Democrats’ proposal would also allow some people ages 55 to 64 to “buy in” to Medicare, starting in 2011. That could cost about $7,600 a year per person or $15,200 in 2011 for a couple with post tax dollars, according to a budget office analysis of an earlier version of the concept. No subsidies would be available until 2014.
It is true that people 55 to 65 years old, with a pre existing illness like hypertension, or high cholesterol levels, cannot buy healthcare insurance as an individual.
“The Medicare buy-in proposal is intended to fill a gap in the social safety net for millions of people nearing retirement who are unable to obtain or afford insurance. In general, the new Medicare option would be available only to people who are uninsured. People 55 to 64 who have employer-sponsored insurance would be expected to keep it.”
Overlooked is the fact that employers are going to opt out buy employee insurance because it is cheaper to pay the penalty than the premium for its workers. Therefore everyone will be forced to buy an individual policy through the health exchange.
The healthcare reform bill does not offer the same benefits or subsidies that members of congress or other federal employee receive.
In order to get 60 votes in the Senate, Harry Reid had to add Medicare for 55 to 65 year olds. Medicare is a terrific but unaffordable program. It is putting the federal government on an insolvency trajectory. The Senate should be focused on fixing Medicare not adding more people to it rolls.
“Republicans denounced the proposal, saying it would add new financial obligations to a program that could not afford its existing commitments.”
Democrats have declared that it is essential to pass a bill before Christmas. After the bill is passed they will fix it later. Nothing ever gets fixed later unless there is a scandal. The only chance to fix it is now.
America needs healthcare reform. The momentum of debate should be used to pass a logical bill that will provide universal and affordable coverage without accounting and taxation tricks that will be regretted later .
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