The House And Senate Bills Are Terrible Bills For Medical Care And The Economy. Part 6
Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
President Obama’s administration has been disingenuous. During the Presidential campaign he promised to reach across the aisle. He also promised a totally transparent administration. All we have had is non transparency, partisanship and disinformation.
A reader wrote “the only reason healthcare reform has been partisan is because one of the parties did not show up to negotiate.” I asked which party he is talking about.
Tom Daschle withdrew from the administration because of a brewing lobbying scandal.
On November 19, 2009 the Senate was presented with a 2074 page healthcare reform bill that was crafted behind closed doors to merge the finance and health committee’s healthcare bills.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled the vote to allow debate of the bill 72 hours after it was published. Tom Daschle has been a frequent advisor to the secret Senate Democratic Party committee meetings.
Mr. Reid declared the Senate will pass the bill without any Republican support if necessary. Somehow he intimidated the entire Democratic caucus to vote for debate despite strong objections by some Democratic Senators to the bill. The Republicans and the majority of the public are against the bill. Public support for President Obama’s bill is well below 50%. The latest Rassmussen Poll has approval of the bill at under 40% with 56% disapproving.
The Senate bill is similar to Nancy Pelosi’s House bill with a few additional trick plays and much creative accounting. .
Americans should be furious because they are being ignored. I hope they are not being worn down by repeated promises of transparency and false hope. Carl Sandberg said, “if you tell a lie enough times it becomes the truth.”
President Obama’s Healthcare Reform Plan is unchanged from the plan Tom Daschle outlined in his book published two years ago. The healthcare plan was destined to fail then and it is destined to fail now.
There are many flaws in the Senate healthcare bill. These are just a few.
1. The Public Option remains in the Senate healthcare bill. It would create a new government-run healthcare plan intended to “compete” with private healthcare insurance in a new healthcare insurance plan. We were told by Harry Reid that the Public Option would not be in the Senate bill. The problem is the rule maker cannot be a fair competitor. Since President Obama’s ultimate goal is a single party payer system for healthcare the Public Option is another trick play.
Peter Pitts, President, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and former associate commissioner, FDA sent me this YouTube production. It is a cynical explanation of the Public Option.
Barney Frank and others have stated “the Public Option is a must” . It is a first step toward a government run single party payer system. The House does not have the votes for going directly to a single party payer system. The Public Option is another entitlement program. The costs of entitlement programs have historically been underestimated.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has concluded that millions of Americans will lose their existing employer-based private healthcare coverage to a government subsidized plan. Over time private employer based coverage will vanish.
2. Federal Regulation of Health Insurance would result in sweeping and complex federal regulation of health insurance. The healthcare insurance industry needs regulation. The government plan with the administration and enforcement of the regulations will increase not decrease cost of care because of the increased bureaucracy and the system of pricing premiums. Massachusetts’ health plan is the prime example of a poor design failure.
3. Employer Mandates would be imposed on those who do not offer healthcare coverage. If coverage did not meet the government standard the government would impose a penalty on the company.
The employer mandate would inhibit small companies from hiring low income workers. This is the worst thing to do when the country desperately needs incentives for job creation. It also imposes more government rules on small business decision making.
4. Individual Mandates will require people of all ages to buy healthcare insurance. If the
y did not buy health insurance they would be penalized with a tax. In some extreme cases they could be jailed. This is another example of government controlling our lives.
5. Massive Expansion of Medicaid and New Taxpayer-Funded Subsidies are included in the bill. It is the administration’s way of covering more people earning less than $60,000 per year. At least three things are wrong with expanding Medicaid in its present form. The burden of administration and cost will be shifted to the States. Most States except Texas are in straits financial condition or at the brink of bankruptcy.
Medicaid is underfunded by the States and the Federal government. The underfunding will lead to rationing. Medicaid does not provide adequate services or vendor reimbursement.
There is nothing in the bill that has incentives to encourage patients to be responsible for their health and healthcare decisions. One fifth of the economy will be on welfare and subject to the government’s regulations.
President Obama and the Congressional Democrats have not listened to the people. President Obama has not changed anything in the bill since it was first proposed.
President Obama and Congress should remember that the independent voters and thinkers are the people who elected them. He is rapidly losing their support.
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.