Saturday, October 24, 2009

Behemoth

In case you have hours to waste or nothing better to do, you can now see a copy of one of the proposed healthcare “reform” bills on line at

http://finance.senate.gov/press/Bpress/2009press/prb101909.pdf

I certainly don’t have the time or inclination to pore over all 1502 pages, but be my guest if you like. The Congressional Budget Office has yet to score the bill. I will also leave it to others to come up with a summary of what this behemoth actually entails, but I did a few word searches to get some idea:

  • A search for “malpractice”, “tort”, “tort reform” yielded zero hits. Why am I not surprised?
  • “Abortion” resulted in over 20 hits, the most telling of which is on page 141, which describes the abortion services for which public funding is permitted and prohibited: “The services described in this subparagraph are abortions for which the expenditure of Federal funds appropriated for the Department of Health and Human Services is permitted, based on the law as in effect as of the date that is 6 months before the beginning of the plan year involved.” I see quite a wide berth for a Mack truck.
  • “Medicare” also yielded multiple hits, a substantial number of them under the Title V Section entitled “Fraud, Waste and Abuse”, Subsection A, “Medicare and Medicaid”. I am all for eliminating fraud, waste and abuse, but why am I suspicious? How long have Medicaid and Medicare been in existence? If they can save so much money by cutting waste, fraud and abuse, why haven’t they done so already?
There are numerous other references to penalties, fines and taxes, as well as federal requirements levied on states. It is enough to make anyone’s head spin. I am convinced that the length and the complexity of the bill are by design.


Supposedly, this bill does not contain the controversial “public option” or so I am told. How is this for a "public option"? Let’s have the government use its power of numbers to either self insure or to negotiate a variety of reasonably priced group health insurance policies to offer to those who are otherwise unable to get insurance. But the rules are that HHS or whatever government entity administering such a plan must either break even or turn a profit, and under no circumstances may the entity borrow additional monies from the treasury. They must therefore adjust their premiums and benefits schedule accordingly and not gain a competitive advantage over private health insurers. Fair enough?

Such a provision could be written up in a bill of less than one page. (It took me less than one paragraph). The bill could add a page or two each to (1) allow private insurance companies to compete across state lines, (2) extend insurance premium tax deductibility to all individuals and (3) bring down medical costs by instituting some serious tort reform. The result would be a decent healthcare bill that will provide for those in need, expand their individual choice, allow healthcare providers and insurers to freely and openly compete, and turn the world’s greatest healthcare system into something even better.

But something tells me that is not going to happen. Why not? First of all, because the government knows it cannot compete if it has to abide by the same rules it imposes on the private sector. But more importantly, the authors of the bill are not so much interested in making healthcare more affordable as they are in controlling a major segment of the economy. How much control do they want to exert? At least 1502 pages worth.

2 comments:

Tracy said...

I think you make an excellent point that it appears more about control. I don't know anyone who thinks this will make healthcare more affordable for the middle, working class, person.

JD Curtis said...

Agreed. It's "cradle to grave socialism". Whether you want it or not.