Health ‘reform’ bill won’t fix anything
October 2, 2009
To the Editor:
I am once again disappointed to read in the Opinion Column another piece in support of proposed legislation purporting to “reform” health care by merely trotting out more sound bites from bill proponents and ignoring the actual provisions and realities of the proposals.
Focusing on the Baucus bill in the Senate, which appears now to be the front runner in this legislative effort, the primary thrust of “reform” is to subsidize health care insurance costs for tens of millions of “lower-income” people. Currently, this would extend to families with income up to $88,000 per year.
Putting aside the fact that this does nothing to reduce health care costs one cent, the real issue then becomes who pays for this? According to the bill, payment will come from several sources – fines as high as $1,900 for those who fail to purchase mandated coverage (with inordinate impact on young adults), fines as high as $400 per worker for employers who do not provide workers “affordable” health insurance, a 40 percent tax on insurers who offer too generous a health care plan (ignoring the twisted logic of this, insurers have already indicated it will be passed on to consumers), reductions in Medicare services to seniors (nonpartisan congressional budget crunchers have confirmed this) and fees on the health care industry (which again will be passed on to consumers).
Regarding Medicare Advantage, the elimination of which is cited as another revenue source, the fact is that this program provides better coverage and more services (including routine check-ups, preventive care and management of chronic illness) than standard Medicare benefits (resulting in enrollment doubling since 2003).
The article also conjures up the bogeyman of Republican obstructionism (by the way, I am not a Republican, but an independent). But the reality is that sponsors know that they can pass this legislation without one Republican supporting it (having done this already in the House). What they do want, however, is the fig leaf of a “bipartisan” bill to try to offset the inevitable political fallout that will result from passage of the bill. Moderate and conservative Democrats are, in fact, the primary reason for the current delay and modifications to the current bill because they tend to be from more conservative states and face a potential future voter backlash.
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Passing a bill for the sake of accomplishing a political goal without real reform and without adequately weighing the costs and alternatives is not a fix of any kind.