Let’s just put aside the un-Constitutional insanity of this healthcare reform that allows the US Government to order Americans to buy insurance or be fined and imprisoned, and go join Alice behind the looking glass. I am going to have to stop chasing one particularly interesting rabbit and read all 262 pages of the Baucus markup for even more interesting tidbits than the one I just ran across over at CNSNews. Page 22 of the PDF; item 6.
6. Enable consumers to enroll in health care plans in local hospitals, schools, Departments of Motor Vehicles, local Social Security offices, and any other offices designated by the state;
The most revelatory passage in the so-called “plain English” version of the health care bill that the Senate Finance Committee approved on Tuesday (without ever drafting the actual legislative language) says that in the future Americans will be offered the convenience of getting their health insurance at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
This is no joke. If this bill becomes law, it will be the duty of the U.S. secretary of health and human services or the state governments overseeing federally mandated health-insurance exchanges to ensure that you can get your health insurance at the DMV.
You do not get food at the DMV. You do not even get auto insurance at the DMV. But under what The Associated Press inaptly calls the Finance Committee’s “middle-of-the-road health care plan,” you will get health insurance at the DMV.
What will the DMV and health care have in common if this bill is enacted? Government will control both.
The public option is only one lane on the road to socialized medicine. Government subsidies and government regulations are two others—and they run like a super highway through the Finance Committee bill.
The bill orders all states to create an “exchange” where companies offering government-approved plans can sell health insurance. Americans earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level ($103,000 for a family of five) would be eligible for federal subsidies in the form of a refundable tax credit to buy health insurance—but only if they buy one of the government-approved plans in the government-created exchange.
The government will not pay this subsidy to the individuals purchasing insurance. The U.S. Treasury will pay it directly to the government-approved insurance providers.
“The Treasury would pay the premium credit amount to the insurance plan in which the individual is enrolled,” says the committee’s “plain English” text.
Four different levels of insurance plans will be available in the exchange—Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. But every year, the secretary of health and human services will determine what services need to be offered by these government-approved and government-funded plans.
“The Secretary of HHS,” says the “plain English” text, “would be required to define and update the categories of covered treatments, items and services within the benefit classes no less than annually through a transparent and public process that allows for public input, including a public comment period.”
Under this bill, the government commands individuals to secure insurance for themselves and their dependents. “In order to insure compliance, individuals would be required to report on their Federal tax return the months for which they maintain the required minimum health coverage for themselves and all dependents under age 18,” says the text.
The government would enforce this mandate with a fine. “The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax of $750 per adult in the household,” says the text.
The bill does not similarly order businesses to provide employees with health insurance. However, people who get insurance through their employer will not be eligible for the federal subsidies.
And here is the whip the government will use to drive most Americans into government-approved, government-subsidized, government-controlled health insurance: An employer that decides not to provide health insurance for its workers will be required to pay a fee to the government for each of its workers that receives a federal subsidy. But the total paid to the government by any employer will be capped at $400 times the total number of that employer’s workers.
Even though this fee will not be tax deductible, it will be far cheaper for a business to pay the government $400 per worker than to pay a private insurance company thousands per worker for an insurance plan.
I have to wonder how going to the DMV is going to bring costs down and increase access? You have got to be freakin’ kidding me!
For those of you that are interested in reading the chairman’s markup of the Baucus bill and the HELP committee’s bill, the links follow. We cannot know what will actually be in the final bill that goes to floor of the Senate for a vote because all the work to combine these two bills is being done by the dems behind closed doors (imagine that), but at this point, any information is better than none.
Let’s start with the price tag. According to the report just released by the Congressional Budget Office, the bill will cost roughly $829 billion over the next 10 years. And, significantly, it is even projected to reduce the budget deficit over 10 years by $81 billion. Of course, both those numbers are misleading.
The $829 billion cost is for the next 10 years, 2010-2019, but the most expensive provisions of the bill don’t take effect until July of 2013. The cost over the bill’s first 10 years of actual operation is closer to $1.3 trillion.
In addition, the bill assumes that Congress will implement a 21% reduction in Medicare payments that is already scheduled under current law. The only problem is that Congress has been supposed to make those reductions since 2003 — and never has. There is no reason to believe it will do so this time either.
Most importantly, the bill does not achieve its deficit reduction by controlling spending or reducing health care costs. In fact, by the end of the 10-year budget window, the cost of the program is expected to be growing at 8% per year. But revenue from the bill’s new taxes would be growing between 10% and 15% per year.
In particular, the bill imposes a 40% excise tax on health insurance plans that offer benefits in excess of $8,000 for an individual plan and $21,000 for a family plan. Insurers would almost certainly pass this tax on to consumers via higher premiums. (emphasis mine)
As inflation pushed insurance premiums higher in coming years, more and more middle-class families would find themselves caught up in the tax — providing the government with more revenue.
The overall tax increases in the bill are more than double the amount of deficit reduction. This isn’t a health care efficiency bill or a cost-containment bill. It is a tax-and-spend bill, pure and simple. (emphasis mine)
With all this, the bill still leaves 25 million people uninsured.
Make sure to go over to the Cato Institute and read the whole article.
Sen. Charles Grassley’s comments with Neil Cavuto about this bill going left.
Health care reform cleared a momentous hurdle Tuesday, as the Senate Finance Committee voted to send its version of the legislation to the Senate floor after months of closely watched deliberations.
The committee voted 14-9 in favor of the package. One Republican, Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, broke with her party to support the bill. All 13 Democrats on the panel voted in favor of it, while the rest of the Republicans opposed it.
The panel was the last of five to act on health legislation, and the vote marked the biggest advance so far toward health care reform, as the committee’s legislation is considered the best building block for a compromise plan in the full Senate.
But much work still remains on the package.
The House still needs to bring a unified version to the floor, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will begin working with White House staff, Baucus and others to blend the Finance bill with a more liberal version passed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee – before bringing a final product to the Senate floor.
Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate this morning before the vote: