With Senate passage of “HarryCare” and the previous House passage of “PelosiCare” the stage is set for closed door negotiations between select House and Senate leaders on a unified single bill. What this legislation ultimately looks like is anyone’s guess. Two things are almost certain however: the public will be shut out of the process; and the highway robbery committed by select senators in exchange for their votes will get worse.
Here are 10 compelling reasons why Senator Shaheen, Congresswoman Shea-Porter and Congressman Hodes should reconsider their votes on this impending healthcare fiasco.
1. The deficit will grow not shrink as supporters claim. The Senate legislation is structured so that tax hikes are immediate, but coverage subsidies don’t kick in until 2014 hiding the true cost of the legislation. Further spending on items such as reimbursement rate increases for doctors were deleted to mask the legislation’s true cost. Staffers have indicated the true cost of the legislation will be $2.5 trillion over 10 years once coverage mandates begin, not $841 billion that supporters cite. Deficit neutrality is being manufactured through cynical accounting gimmicks. Remember also that Medicare’s unfunded future liability is $37 Trillion.
2. The cost of health care for the middle class not qualifying for subsidies will go up according to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare and the Congressional Budget Office. This is a far cry from President Obama’s pledge that health insurance costs would decrease by $2500 for a typical family.
3. At a time when businesses everywhere are struggling to keep their doors open, they don’t need more government imposed costs and bureaucracy. The Senate legislation imposes a $750 penalty on most businesses if they don’t provide government approved insurance.
4. Individuals will be forced to purchase insurance approved by government bureaucrats or pay a penalty of 2% of income or $2250 per family, whichever is greater--- blatantly unconstitutional. Young healthy Americans may make a rational decision to pay the penalty and wait until they become ill to purchase insurance because it can’t be denied. And if they choose not to pay the penalty – the House legislation could impose jail sentences!
5. The Senate like the House would impose punishing new taxes. The Senate array of taxes include a hike in the Medicare payroll tax for salaries above $200,000, a tax on higher value insurance policies which will affect middle class NH citizens due to our high insurance costs, a new tax on drug manufacturers, an industry wide tax on health insurers which would be passed along to consumers, a tax on medical device manufacturers, higher thresholds before individuals could deduct medical expenses, and even a tax on indoor tanning facilities. Is this any way to create American jobs during a recession?
6. The Senate and House cut Medicare for Seniors. These cuts specifically target the popular and effective Medicare Advantage which offers more comprehensive care for seniors, as well as better preventative care and disease management services.
7. Both the Senate and House predict that millions more Americans will be insured – but nearly half of the newly insured, will be eligible for Medicaid – a government entitlement for low-income Americans. However, this provision will be an unfunded mandate for states – at least those that did not receive special deals to buy the votes of wavering senators. Former Commissioner John Stephen has estimated this provision will cost New Hampshire’s hard pressed taxpayers $1.2 billion over ten years.
8. Government intrusion into health care decisions will be overwhelming. Insurers will face new mandates. Federal bureaucrats will determine which plans meet minimum standards. The Senate creates a Medicare Advisory Board to make funding decisions based on cost - the beginning of health care rationing. The House version contains the so-called public option, an innocuous sounding name for government-run health care. The Senate would require states to create Health Benefit Exchanges and the federal Office of Personnel Management must insure two plans are offered through each exchange, thus creating a new federal bureaucracy likely to morph into “Fannie Med”.
9. The spectacle of vote-buying to obtain the necessary 60 Senate votes to move the legislation forward is disgraceful. While no political party can claim to be angels when passing comprehensive legislation, Harry Reid’s willingness to buy the necessary votes is unrivaled. Free new Medicaid for Nebraska, heightened Medicaid subsidies for Louisiana, a special Medicare deal for Florida, and even a $100 million hospital for embattled Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Democrats can call this “Washington Compromise”, but if it happened on Wall Street these same Democrats would lambast the behavior as criminal, would subpoena the executives to testify before Congress and demand their resignations.
10. This legislation does nothing to lower the cost of health care – the big problem that Americans actually face. No tort reform, no changing the tax code to give individuals more opportunities to control their health care, no opportunities for businesses or individuals to purchase lower costs health insurance in national markets.
During the last election, Shaheen, Shea-Porter and Hodes proclaimed their independence from Washington and party bosses. They said they represent New Hampshire in Washington and not visa-versa. Now is their time to shine – to say enough is enough with this health care legislation debacle. They need to start over and work in a bi-partisan fashion to solve the very real health care problems Americans confront -- but which this legislation exacerbates.