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12/24/2009
THE WORST PIECE OF LEGISLATION IN MY LIFETIME

I must confess that the more I read of the health care reform bill that just passed the senate this morning, the more it grows on me.

Unfortunately, that growth is a cancerous tumor, one that will be impossible to excise once this God-awful monstrosity becomes law.

If the Democrats had stuck to their original intent - covering more people, covering those who are chronically ill and denied insurance, and trying to bend the cost curve on Medicare - I would probably have supported it. These things are necessary goals for America and legislation was desperately needed to address these problems.

But the overreach in this bill is incredible. Non-partisan outfits like CMS are saying that premiums will go up drastically, that the bill won’t do anything to reduce the cost of health care, that the quality of care will go down, and that even cuts in Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals (if they could be sustained which they haven’t been over the last 9 years) won’t have any effect on the cost curve.

As far as coverage, that same CMS report figures a net increase of 3 million Americans who will be insured - 12 million will lose their insurance through their employer while 15 million will gain insurance coverage that way. This doesn’t include the estimated 15 million who will now be eligible for Medicaid - an unfunded mandate (except for Nelson’s Nebraska and Landrieu’s Louisiana) that will top $60 billion according to some estimates. Increased state taxes to pay for new Medicaid coverage is not included in the cost of the bill.

The bill is profligate with the taxpayer’s money when it should have been niggardly. It places the heaviest hand imaginable upon health care consumers instead of the lightest touch possible. It’s strictures, rules, and regulations on insurers guarantee higher premiums. And it will take unfairly from the young and give to the old by forcing the “young invincibles” to purchase coverage they will probably not need in order to service seniors.

Seniors have their own problems with this bill - some of it ginned up outrage over nothing - but many of their concerns are well heeded. The destruction of supplemental insurance programs by cutting back on what they can cover, as well as increasing their costs will mean more out of pocket cash spent on health care by Medicare patients. This is the goal, of course; to discourage people from using the health care system. And the Medicare cost containment panel frightens many seniors with its mandate to discover the efficacy of specific treatments for specific diseases and conditions. Hardly a “death panel” - more like Obama’s “take an aspirin for the pain” panel.

If some of this would have accomplished some of the goals the Democrats set out to fulfill, there’s a chance that reasonable conservatives could have supported it. After all, no bill is going to be perfect, and the opposition, working with the material you have at hand in order to improve it, might have achieved at least the appearance of bi-partisanship.

It’s not the the Democrats were necessarily not interested in bi-partisanship as it was they were not interested in the gradualist approach favored by those few lawmakers in the GOP who would have supported health care reform. When even Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins wouldn’t get on board, this should have been a sign that what the Democrats were proposing was a bridge too far even for moderate Republicans.

Married to process rather than sticking to substance, Harry Reid then took a bad bill and made it infinitely worse by trying to please all segments of his caucus. The buy offs, the favors - all the little ornaments Reid added to this Christmas tree of a bill made it less fair, more complex, and more expensive.

Previously occupying the “Worst Piece of Legislation” niche in my mind was the 1981 tax cut bill - a bill that guaranteed huge deficits as far down the road as anyone could see by allowing every Congressman, every special interest group - even individual companies - to get a tax cut goodie written into law. If the coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats had stuck to the original intent of across the board tax cuts and a few business goodies like cutting the capital gains tax, the bill would have cost a third of what it eventually cost. Of course, the bill did jump start the economy, but at the cost of massive deficits that weren’t reined in until Clinton’s presidency a decade later. It should go without saying that the Republicans under Bush abandoned any pretense of fiscal responsibility and ran up record deficits - at least they were a record until this crew got into office.

And now, we’re looking at another “crapshoot” as one Democratic congressman referred to the tax cut bill nearly 30 years ago. (The GOP sage Howard Baker called it a “riverboat gamble.) Nobody can possibly know what the outcomes will be from playing with such a large chunk of the American economy. How much more will the bill cost than advertised? The CBO thinks $1.5 trillion while others see that figure doubled. What will be the effect of people being forced to buy insurance? Will enough of them buy into the system to help slow the rise in premiums (forget the idea they would come down - that’s baloney)?

How will all these changes in Medicare play out in the real world? How many people will take advantage of the increased eligibility (133% of the poverty level) for Medicaid? How will states pay for that increase? How will the exchanges work? What will happen to private insurance carriers who now must cover those with pre-existing conditions? How many companies will opt-out and pay the fine rather than cover their employees? What will happen to small businesses who will see their cost of doing business skyrocket, despite “tax credits” to assist them? What will be the effect of the cost control panel on the quality of care?

I could fill a page or two with questions about the future of health care in America. But the only question that matters is, with so many unknowns, what possessed supposedly sober, prudent lawmakers to pass this bill in the first place?

By: Rick Moran at 10:23 am
19 Responses to “THE WORST PIECE OF LEGISLATION IN MY LIFETIME”
  1. 1
    Richard bottoms Said:
    10:46 am 

    If some of this would have accomplished some of the goals the Democrats set out to fulfill, there’s a chance that reasonable conservatives could have supported it.

    You’ve bee truthful in your opinion, even though I disagree with you conclusions, but you have to know that assertion is downright false.

    The GOP strategy was no compromise, and no support for any of Obama’s programs.

    It is only because Republicans are backed into a corner rhetorically as “war fighters” that they feel they must ultimately support Afghanistan money, otherwise, I guarantee they’d vote no on that too.

    Period.

    That is the strategy for 2010, and Jesus Christ, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa wouldn’t have gotten a different result.

  2. 2
    It’s done. ObamaCare roundup: Right Win… « Legislative Aid Pinged With:
    10:54 am 

    [...] Right Wing Nut House: I must confess that the more I read of the health care reform bill that just passed the senate this morning, the more it grows on me. [...]

  3. 3
    MOswingvoter Said:
    11:34 am 

    “The GOP strategy was no compromise, and no support for any of Obama’s programs”

    Very true. Because Obama’s programs are bad for the nation. I see no reason to support a president who wants to enact what I and others believe to be policies that would absolutely wreck our economy and standing in the world. There is no need to apologize for obstructing such an agenda.

  4. 4
    michael reynolds Said:
    11:36 am 

    The CMS report you link to appears only to deal with the House bill. Which is not the final bill. In fact, it’s probably pretty much irrelevant. But by all means, let the misplaced hysteria proceed.

    And Richard’s right: the idea that your party of spittle-flecked rage-o-holics, conspiracy nuts and racists would have worked with Democrats doesn’t pass the laugh test.

    GOP policy is to destroy the Obama presidency without regard for reason, or the nation’s well-being, or for that matter, mere sanity.

  5. 5
    busboy33 Said:
    12:00 pm 

    No, I’m sure you and the Republican party would have been happy to get behind health care reform.

    Of course, for the last year all I’ve heard is how much gosh darn y’all would really love to do some health care reform, but everything proposed is just so evil that all a good person can do is say nononono.

    Really, you all tried so hard to work at health care reform. It was inspiring. All that effort to reform health care . . . as opposed to just pissing all over the reform Democrats tried.

    And you would have totally supported the original goals of insuring the uninsured . . . but of course you couldn’t support that if it increased the size of the federal government, or cost any money, or impinged on the private market in any way, or didn’t involve tax cuts. I mean, you’ve got to have standards after all. So I guess the Republicans and Rick tried really, really hard to get behind this important task. It was certainly inspiring to watch.

    Thanks to Rick and the Republican party for their tireless efforts to reform healthcare. If there is one thing the country can take from the last year, its how important reforming health care is to the Republican party.

  6. 6
    michael reynolds Said:
    12:26 pm 

    Busboy:

    There are certain stages Republicans have to go through when confronted by change:

    1- Hysteria. (Condemn it out of hand using the wildest rhetoric they can come up with.)

    2- Bluster. (Pretend they were just about to address the problem themselves and would surely have done it better.)

    3- Harrumphing. (Offer grudging support.)

    4- Lies. (Deny they were ever opposed to begin with.)

    5- Stupidity. (Condemn the next proposed change out of hand, having learned nothing at all, rinse and repeat.)

    We’re in transition from state 1 to stage 2.

    Within 5 years conservatives will be loudly proclaiming their devotion to what Rick now pretends is the worst legislation (still, not actually written) he’s ever seen ever, ever, ever.

    Within 7 years you won’t be able to find a conservative who admits to opposing this bill.

  7. 7
    funny man Said:
    1:19 pm 

    Not in the mood for politics today

    Merry Christmas everyone!!

  8. 8
    Americaneocon Said:
    1:20 pm 

    American Power tracked-back with, ‘ObamaCare Now Goes to Conference: Public Option Remains Stumbling Block to Compromise’.

  9. 9
    UrbanGrounds | The New Cost of Healthcare in America Pinged With:
    3:45 pm 

    [...] RightWingNutHouse: “Non-partisan outfits like CMS are saying that premiums will go up drastically, that the bill won’t do anything to reduce the cost of health care, that the quality of care will go down” [...]

  10. 10
    THE WORST PIECE OF LEGISLATION IN MY LIFETIME « Gary on Politics Pinged With:
    5:21 pm 

    [...] Right Wing Nut House » THE WORST PIECE OF LEGISLATION IN MY LIFETIME [...]

  11. 11
    bboot Said:
    5:39 am 

    Interesting range of opinion here. I sort of take Rick’s comments in the same way I take Susan Collins or Olympia Snow; waiting for something better that will never come. In this case the perfect is the enemy of the good. Resisters come in all flavors–the hysterical, like McConnell, to the wistful, like Collins and Snow. But at the end of the day the issue comes to simple resistance to change; Republicans, again, represent staying where we are no matter how bad as opposed to exploring alternatives no matter now promising. What is interesting to me, being from Vermont, is that the same political dynamic can occur on the left as progressives resist change in the name of protecting the environment and education with the result, not unlike the Republicans in DC, of rising costs, declining services, and an unattractive business environment–loss of jobs.

  12. 12
    busboy33 Said:
    11:26 am 

    “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”

    Amen and Amen again.

  13. 13
    michael reynolds Said:
    2:31 pm 

    We should form anew political party and call it the “Good Enough Party.” I’d be thrilled at a nice long period of good enough.

  14. 14
    UNRR Said:
    7:45 am 

    This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 12/26/2009, at The Unreligious Right

  15. 15
    Kenneth Almquist Said:
    12:09 am 

    As Michael Renolds points out, the CMS report discusses the House version of the bill. Moran misrepresents the report in other ways as well.

    Moran: “[CMS says] that premiums will go up drastically [under the bill.]”

    I read the report and couldn’t find any such claim.

    Moran: “the bill won’t do anything to reduce the cost of health care.”

    The report states, “For fiscal years 2010 through 2019, we estimate a relatively small reduction in non-Medicare Federal health care expenditures of $2.1 billion, all of which is associated with the comparative effectiveness research provision.” There are a variety of ideas about how to reduce the rate at which health care costs are growing, but the only way to know which ones will work is to try them and see. That’s what the bill does.

    Moran: “the quality of care will go down.”

    The only discussion of quality of care I spotted in the report is a brief mention in the section on costs: “There is no consensus…that prevention and wellness efforts result in lower costs. Several prominent studies conclude that such provisions–while improving the quality of individuals’ lives in important ways–generally increase costs overall.”

    Moran: “As far as coverage, that same CMS report figures a net increase of 3 million Americans who will be insured.”

    To the contrary, the report states, “By calendar year 2019, the individual mandate, Medicaid expansion, and other provisions are estimated to reduce the number of uninsured from 57 million under current law to 23 million under H.R. 3962.” That’s a net increase of 34 million people.

  16. 16
    Joe Said:
    5:27 pm 

    The gop had no intention of ever supporting healthcare, no matter what was in it.Everyone knew that from the get-go.”It’s horrible” Limbaugh said on his radio that the bill was fascism, and would destroy the nation.The gop could care less about people going without healthcare.Their about bloodlust for attacking some other country thats wronged us.No Senator DeMint, this isn’t Obama’s Waterloo, its you and your party. Good riddance.

  17. 17
    Maggie's Farm Trackbacked With:
    7:09 pm 

    A few Sunday evening links…

    Give Me Liberty or Give Me Social Justice
    Gifts that abide. Vandeleun
    We’ve been in a lost decade for stocks
    A concise summary of Climate Change. Powerline
    Jobless Decade May Loom
    Animal Welfare Victories Prompt Farmers’ PR Moves
    A “fri…

  18. 18
    JHTRazor Said:
    11:48 pm 

    This so called ‘health care reform’ looks like it is going to create far more problems then it fixes. Premiums are almost certainly going to go up, the only question is how much.

    The combination of $750 fine for not having health insurance, and removal of preexising conditions, is simply going to lead to large numbers of healthy, young people opting out and paying their fine, and then getting insurance once they’re sick. That will drive up the cost to insurance companies, which will be passed on to us.

  19. 19
    Dave Schuler Said:
    2:56 pm 

    It remains to be seen whether the bill that emerges is the worst of your lifetime. The Interstate Highway Defense Act is pretty hard to beat. Was that within your lifetime?

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