March 15, 2010

March 15, 2010 | Factsheet on Health Care, Health Care Reform

Obamacare: It's Not Getting Better

Fix Health  Care PolicyThe Process

  • Deeming Resolution: Step 1 of the latest strategy to get health care reform across the finish line is to use a "deeming resolution" to deem the Senate-passed version of Obamacare passed in the House. House members would technically never vote on the bill--instead they would vote on a resolution that deems the bill passed. This is completely unconstitutional and an all-out attack on the rule of law.
  • Reconciliation: Once the House passes the Senate-passed bill, step 2 would be for both chambers to then pass a reconciliation bill with the changes they want. Reconciliation is a complicated procedure normally used for budgetary matters and therefore requires only a simple majority of votes to pass instead of the usual 60. Liberals are trying to use reconciliation to get around the filibuster in the Senate and put in some last-minute special provisions that can't pass in the Senate using regular procedure.
  • Will It Work? Despite the potential constitutional questions of "deeming" a bill passed, the Senate Parliamentarian has signaled that the House would have to pass--and the President would need to sign into law--the Senate version of Obamacare before a reconciliation bill could be considered in the Senate. Thus, any changes proposed in reconciliation may never be signed into law.

The Senate Bill (Soon to be in the House)

  • The Real Cost: With tricky accounting and budget gimmicks, Obamacare supporters would like you to believe that the cost of this bill is less than a trillion dollars. However, this figure excludes items such as the costly but inevitable "doc fix" and cleverly disguises a new long-term-care entitlement. Also, it is based on benefits not taking effect until 2014, even though taxes begin immediately. The true 10-year cost of this bill is at least $2.5 trillion.
  • No Stupak Amendment: The Senate bill lacks the Stupak Amendment, which is designed to protect the new health care legislation from funding or subsidizing abortions with federal tax dollars. Congressional Democratic leaders have said they will march on with or without the support of the pro-life members of their caucus.
  • Kickbacks: The Senate bill still contains the "Cornhusker Kickback," the "Gator-Aid," and the "Louisiana Purchase." The President promises to fix these in reconciliation, but there are already moves to backtrack by calling the "Louisiana Purchase" an emergency and by extending the "Cornhusker Kickback" to all states. This outlandish spending will make the cost of the bill skyrocket.
  • Increased Medicaid Costs for States: Eventually the states would be forced to pick up the costs of the largest expansion of the Medicaid program in history. This unfunded mandate would likely require state tax hikes, more cuts to Medicaid providers (further lowering the quality of care for those on the program), or a push by the states to have the federal taxpayers bail them out once again.
  • And Still a Public Option: The Senate bill authorizes the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), a federal agency that administers the civil service, to create government-sponsored health plans that would "compete" against private health plans nationwide. These government-sponsored health plans would have their premiums, profit margins, and benefit offerings set by OPM. This holds the potential for creating an un-level playing field between the government-sponsored health plans and private insurance. It could also mean that the taxpayers could be liable for making up any shortfalls incurred by the government-sponsored plans.

A Better Strategy

  • Start Over: Go back to the drawing board with a bipartisan group of lawmakers and consider reform options that lower costs, lower premiums, and increase competition without increasing federal control.
  • Focus on Free-Market Solutions: Tax reform, sensible insurance market reforms (including allowing Americans to purchase coverage from other states), meaningful entitlement reform, and letting states take the lead should be the cornerstones for real reform.

For more information, please visit: http://fixhealthcarepolicy.com/

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