SEAN MAHONEY: HEALTH CARE PLANS WOULD COST TAXPAYERS, DRIVE UP DEFICIT
August 1, 2009
During a tele-town hall meeting this week, Rep. Paul Hodes discussed his support for a trillion-plus dollar health care reform package with his constituents. “We’ve got to lower costs for everybody,” he said. Who does he think he’s kidding? If we “lower costs for everyone,” where exactly is the trillion dollars going to come from?
As the massive stimulus act has shown, a trillion dollars doesn’t suddenly appear because Congress appropriates it. It comes in the form of higher taxes on small businesses, families and, in order to cover the crippling debt, our grandchildren.
There is no doubt the existing U.S. health care system is in financial trouble and in need of significant reform. Each year, America spends over $2.4 trillion on health care, significantly more than any other nation. At the same time, more than 47 million citizens are uninsured and, as a nation, we forgo over a trillion dollars a year in productivity due to illness. This is unsustainable.
Unfortunately, the measures offered by President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority in Washington increase taxes and the federal budget deficit, diminish our control over our health care choices, fail to improve the quality of our health care and will force many Americans who are presently satisfied with their health coverage out of their private plans and into a government plan.
President Obama has said he will not sign a bill that increases the deficit. Therefore, every new cent of spending in the health reform bill must be paid for with new taxes. Good luck. We are in the worst economic conditions since the 1930s. American small businesses can little afford the 8% payroll tax penalty the Democrats would levy against them if they can’t afford to provide insurance to their employees. Nor can the so-called rich be squeezed for any more than the Obama administration has already appropriated from them to finance his failed stimulus act. Many of the “wealthy” individuals on whose wallets the Democrats set their sights are actually small business owners and entrepreneurs; the very same job creators who need to succeed financially if we are to climb out of the recession. The last thing our struggling economy needs now is an additional trillion dollars in new taxes.
The most onerous idea in the health care debate is the “public option,” which is essentially a government insurance plan designed to compete with private insurers. Many predict the public option will crowd out private insurers and by way of a “last man standing” strategy become the nation’s sole insurer. The analysts at the Lewin Group estimate 100 million people will exercise the public option because it will charge 20% lower premiums. Of course the reason the government plan will be allowed to offer lower premiums is that it will be subsidized by taxpayers.
Think about that. The more successful the government option is at “competing” with private insurers, the more burdensome it will be on hardworking taxpayers. I suppose we can take solace in the fact that most government programs fail utterly.
What’s more, under the public plan government bureaucrats will make health care decisions for us. More than 50 new government bureaucracies will be created to manage the new plan. And contrary to Obama’s assurances, the bill in the House will add almost a quarter-of-a-trillion to the federal budget deficit over the next ten years and far more after that, according to CBO.
Here are some things the public option will not do. It won’t improve the quality of care. In fact, it doesn’t even pretend to. There is nothing in the plans in Washington that will increase life expectancy or quality of life. And the plan does nothing to loosen the strangle hold the trial lawyer lobby has on our doctors who, under constant threat of frivolous lawsuits, are forced to pass malpractice insurance costs onto the consumers.
What would a real Congressional health reform measure do? It would open up the health care marketplace by allowing small businesses and associations to purchase bulk insurance for their employees and members. I would also allow these groups to purchase insurance packages across state lines, thereby creating real choice and competition and controlling costs. And it would further reduce costs by cracking down on the trial lobby.
The more people learn about the Democrats’ health care plans the less they want them to become law. A new NBC/WSJ poll shows only thirty-six percent of Americans think Obama’s plan is a good idea versus forty-two percent who think it’s a bad idea. Only forty-one percent approve of the way he is handling this issue. The politicians ought to listen to the people for a change.
Sean Mahoney is the Publisher of BusinessNH Magazine and New Hampshire’s Republican National Committeeman.