The Obama Health Care Budget: A Trillion Dollar Down Payment on What?
The President's Budget
- The Actual Cost: The $634 billion in the President's
budget is only a "down payment" on health care reform. Experts
believe that the actual cost of Obama's health care plan could
reach $1.6 trillion over 10 years. This is in addition to the
trillions of dollars Obama has already spent on health care this
year through the stimulus and SCHIP.
- Details, Please: On such an important piece of the
President's budget and agenda, there is little detail on what the
Administration expects to spend with the $634 billion down payment.
American taxpayers deserve the right to know the key elements of
this massive budget proposal.
- Tax Hikes, Again: President Obama's plan depends on
raising taxes on charitable giving and cutting home mortgage
deductions to pay for health care. Some in Congress are suggesting
using carbon taxes to pay for it. America spends over $2 trillion
(or close to 17% of GDP) on health care. When is it enough, and
when are taxes not the answer?
Family Planning: The President's budget isn't timid in
expressing its goal to expand Medicaid family planning funding.
These provisions undermine parental authority by allowing children
of any income level to qualify for family planning benefits without
The Down Payment
- A Familiar Pattern: The actual costs of the President's
health care proposals are invariably higher than the original
government projections. The Obama budget document affirms as much:
"The Budget calls for an effort beyond this down payment, to put
the Nation on a path to health insurance coverage for all
Americans. However, additional funding will be needed."
- Unproven and Misdirected Savings: The budget depends on
technical tinkering of administrative payments in Medicare and
Medicaid to produce savings. Dependence on many of these so-called
delivery reforms are unproven and will likely result in the typical
ratcheting down of provider payments.
- Entitlement Reform: Moreover, President Obama said he
supported entitlement reform. Shouldn't Medicare and Medicaid
savings be redirected to shore up these fiscally bankrupt
Alternative Health Care Policies
- Be Imaginative: Instead of employing old-fashioned,
populist "soak the rich" tax hikes combined with technocratic
tinkering of administrative and software programs, the President
should fix America's flawed public and private third-party payment
system, in which value is secured for "payers," not individual
- Direct Control: If the President wants to effect real
change -- and secure value for individual patients rather than
third-party payers -- he should take concrete steps to transfer
direct control over health care dollars and decisions to
individuals and families.
- Consumer Choice: Give Americans a true consumer-choice
system modeled after the one available to Members of Congress, not
a façade for government-run health care.
- Take Bold Steps, Give States the Power: Allow states to
experiment with better ways of reaching the nation's health
coverage goals rather than imposing a national plan on states and
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