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Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'll Read The Healthcare Bill Now

All 1,000 pages plus. (This is the house version.)

UPDATE: You can read the CBO's preliminary analysis of this bill here. This is a 16 page pdf. They estimate that the federal deficit would increase by about 1 trillion over the period 2010 to 2019 due to this plan, noting:
That estimate primarily reflects $438 billion in additional federal outlays for Medicaid and $773 billion in federal subsidies that would be provided to purchase coverage through the new insurance exchanges.
Note that the attack on Medicare consists not of an explicit determination, but by the granting of other, extremely expensive, federal subsidies to other groups. That one trillion is going to be made up for not just with higher taxes but also by cutting benefits, and this bill can be seen as a strategy to create widespread support in the general population for depriving seniors of medical care.

The main provisions of the bill are due to take effect in 2013, so that is quite a price tag. Needless to say, the various revenue-raising schemes do not cover the costs. Beginning on page 9, there is a nice summary of the bill's main provisions according to the preliminary text provided to CBO. So far I haven't found major differences, but my mind is melting only a few hundred pages in. Pray for me as I hack my way through this jungle of fine words, airy promises, and a complete absence of engagement with reality. This thing really DOES remind me of Pick-A-Pay loans.
End Update.

There is a screamfest going on at Althouse's over it. Her comment:
Since I have been given no time to figure it out, I will ram through my explanation: They don't want us to see how terrible it is. My working theory must be it's a horror. Therefore, I am vehemently opposed to it. Aren't you?
My first reaction exactly. They didn't read the stimulus, they didn't read the cap and trade and now I'm guessing no one's going to read this. It kind of takes the "representative" out of representative democracy, doesn't it?

I won't be back until I've finished it. Fortunately, I read quickly, although I suspect the comic aspects of this may slow me down.
Also, I have to do some gardening. So I'll be reading, laughing, digging and planting.

I laughed myself silly over the summary, which sounds wonderful - people on Medicare get a lot more, people on Medicaid get a lot more, people get health insurance subsidies up to incomes of $88,000 - until you realize that everything is mandated for no additional cost except for actual treatment when someone gets something like cancer or a neurological disease. You won't have to pay for eyeglasses or to get your teeth cleaned, but my guess is that the truly ill will wind up getting a nice coffin at government-controlled prices.

Plus they've already figured out how much coverage is going to cost you. There is a board (which will probably be anonymous and meet under a mountain somewhere) who will figure out what coverage sick people will actually get, and I am guessing that it will be very little. Clearly someone has decided that sick people are the problem, and if we just don't bother to treat them, everything will be dandy! And we'll save a lot of money!

The theory that we will just decide how much we want to pay and get all the health care we want for that number has just a few tiny economic fallacies contained within it, but they will prove fatal. This appears to be a healthcare version of the Pick-A-Pay loans.

PS: Any time a government program is described as "nimble", you know we have left Realityburg and voyaged onward into LaLaLand. The appropriate background music for reading this thing is clearly "My Dingaling", and I offer a Youtube version that points up one of the advantages of this thing - because of all of the preventive medicine and wellness care, all those left alive will have the bodies of Greek gods and exude an jubilant joi-de-vive that must be seen to be imagined.

MoM, they've figured out that if they let the old people die, not only does it fix the Medicare cost problem, it fixes the Social Security cost problem. It's a twofer!

If Republicans tried to do this, they would be lynched. But just as only Nixon could go to China, only Obama can go to health care rationing ...
You are a brave soul indeed, MOM. I'll be curious to see what happens to the people who are currently on Medicare--does Medicare continue on for them, or do they get folded into the new plans?

I'm guessing that Medicare continues for those who are currently on it, slowly winding down as they die off. The Baby Boomers, meanwhile all go into the new government system where they will be the first to feel the rationing.

I wonder how that's all going to work out?
My goodness you've got a strong constitution if you're up to reading through that slop!

I got the following in one of my regular DOE email announcements, you might be interested in this:

"Attendees will learn how to use an online economic model—called Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI)—to predict the economic development impacts of renewable energy in your state. Specifically, participants will learn how to use JEDI to design and run an economic impacts analysis and interpret the results. Finally, attendees will see an example of an analysis that the presenters recently carried out using the JEDI Wind Model."

Here's the link to JEDI: http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/jedi/about_jedi.html
You can't fool me with your JEDI Wind tricks.

Bless you MOM!

I was at a forum on healthcare reform last night and the panelists (7 out of 8) were all strongluy in favor of either Obama care or a universal, single payer plan.

Questions were allowed, but it was an overwhelming liberal audience and there was minimal discussion of costs. There was a lot of talk about eating right, exercising, regular check ups, reducing tests and second opinions, as well as banning tobacco and alcohol products.

As you have mentioned they are all certain that prevention will save a lot of money. Yet they cannot show any studies that even hint this is true.

The elephant in the room is end of life care. Most people require more medical care in the last five years of their lives than in all the rest. As an old codger myself, I would much prefer to just go to sleep one night and not wake up. Unfortunately, many of us do not go quietly into yon night. And if we do not have a directive asking that no heroic measures be taken, we can be kept expensively alive as invalids or zombies for quite some time. (Quite favorable to a hospital's bottom line.) I've witnessed a couple of these cases and it is a situation that would try the wisdom and compassion of Solomon.

Then there is the matter of knee, hip, and other surgeries that improve quality of life, but are not life saving. We oldsters are the primary recipients of such surgery. Most of my friends have knee and hip replacements in siome combination. (How have I escaped such a fate? Good genes?)The question is, do we want a government bureaucrat to make the decision to withhold that quality of life care or to provide it to the well connected? How can this issue be resolved? No one wants to touch that with a ten foot pole.

Good luck with your reading. I'm looking forward to a rundown of all the ways they are going to prevent illness and big medical bills.
I've been telling my family members, pay attention to the rhetoric. Everyone is talking about health insurance as if that's the goal. I could give a rat's arse about health insurance. Healthcare is what matters!

By the time Congress gets done, the health insurance companies are going to be like the utility companies. They will be given government monopolies in exchange for guaranteed 8% profit margins and huge salaries for the management at the top.

As for the peons, we'll be given a choice of plans ranging from prohibitively expensive to utterly worthless, one of which we'll be required to buy, probably with some means-tested subsidy for the least expensive plan making coverage "universal".

It will be win-win. The Republicans have their donors in the insurance companies taken care of. Democrats get to claim the US now has universal coverage like the rest of the industrialized world. 20 and 30 something Obama liberals will congratulate each other on how great it is that they can go to the emergency room after getting banged up skiing, biking, climbing, or what have you.
It's Not An Option
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Congress: It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.

When we first saw the paragraph Tuesday, just after the 1,018-page document was released, we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:

"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.

From the beginning, opponents of the public option plan have warned that if the government gets into the business of offering subsidized health insurance coverage, the private insurance market will wither. Drawn by a public option that will be 30% to 40% cheaper than their current premiums because taxpayers will be funding it, employers will gladly scrap their private plans and go with Washington's coverage.

The nonpartisan Lewin Group estimated in April that 120 million or more Americans could lose their group coverage at work and end up in such a program. That would leave private carriers with 50 million or fewer customers. This could cause the market to, as Lewin Vice President John Sheils put it, "fizzle out altogether."

What wasn't known until now is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law.

The legislation is also likely to finish off health savings accounts, a goal that Democrats have had for years. They want to crush that alternative because nothing gives individuals more control over their medical care, and the government less, than HSAs.

With HSAs out of the way, a key obstacle to the left's expansion of the welfare state will be removed.

The public option won't be an option for many, but rather a mandate for buying government care. A free people should be outraged at this advance of soft tyranny.

Washington does not have the constitutional or moral authority to outlaw private markets in which parties voluntarily participate. It shouldn't be killing business opportunities, or limiting choices, or legislating major changes in Americans' lives.

It took just 16 pages of reading to find this naked attempt by the political powers to increase their reach. It's scary to think how many more breaches of liberty we'll come across in the final 1,002.

House Leadership's Health Care Plan Pushes Top Tax Rates Over 50% in 39 States

Couples Earning More than $1 Million Hit with 5.4% Surtax

Washington, DC, July 14, 2009 - A third updated Tax Foundation report shows that 39 states would see top tax rates exceed 50% under a health care funding plan announced today by House Democrats.

The latest proposal—one of several floated on Capitol Hill in the past few days and the third analyzed by the Tax Foundation since Friday—would impose a surtax of 1 percent on married couples with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) between $350,000 and $500,000 (singles between $280,000 and $400,000); 1.5 percent on couples with incomes between $500,000 and $1 million (singles earning between $400,000and $800,000); and 5.4 percent on couples earning more than $1 million (singles beyond $800,000).

The Tax Foundation released an initial report Friday based on another plan that had been floated that included a 4 percent surtax, as well as an updated report yesterday based on a three-tiered structured with a maximum rate of 3% for couples earning more than $1 million.

"More than three-quarters of the states would face combined top income tax rates exceeding 50% under this latest health care funding proposal," Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge said. "That means government would be taking more than half of every additional dollar from high-income taxpayers. The lowest top tax rate would be about 47%—and that's in the nine states that don't tax wages."

Tax Foundation Fiscal Fact No. 178, "If Health Surtax Is 5.4 Percent, Taxpayers in 39 States Would Pay a Top Tax Rate Over 50%," may be found online at http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/24863.html.

The hardest-hit states would be Oregon (57.5%), Hawaii (57.2%), New Jersey (57.1%), New York (56.9%), California (56.8%), Rhode Island (56.2%), Vermont (55.8%), Maryland (55.6%), Minnesota (54.4%) and Idaho (54.3%). Washington, DC, and New York City would see their top effective marginal rates rise to 55.0% and 58.7%, respectively. The effective marginal tax rate takes into consideration deductions and adjustments in order to present a truer measure of an individual's rate.

Top tax rates in the remaining 11 states range from 47.3% to 50%

Good Luck to you MOM! O/T: After you have read that, Rolling Stone magazine has an article by Matt Taibbi that is also worth a read, and significantly less than 1000 pages. Apparently Goldman-Sachs is behind the ball on the "health"-care issue, otherwise they'd already have a hedge fund set up to bet on how many people live or die under Obamacare.
What I hate most of all is this idea that all you need is health insurance. Well, I have that, but it sure doesn't seem to do a lot of good. I had an insect bite get infected with a nasty form of staph. Punched a two inch hole into my thigh. I went into a same day care clinic, as it happened over the weekend. I'd had chills with it the night before, so must have also had a fever. My insurance has decided not to cover this, for reasons I don't understand. I'm at $250 so far and that's just the first bill. They did pay for some of the lab tests. When your job doesn't pay worth a damn and your insurance doesn't cover much of anything, it's the same as not having insurance at all.
Teri - That's awful. Follow up with the insurance company to find out why. If it's not a deductible, you can probably challenge it and when.

They have to code these things to send them in, and severity doesn't necessarily show up in their categorization schemes.
MOM Trying to find this thing on line so I can read it. Most frightening piece of legislation to come along. Want to be able to educate others so keep up and let us know what you find. If this passes we all need to be prepared mentally to die because if you are diagnosed as terminal they will not spend the money on any measures to extend your life. My mother had ovarian cancer but her doctors were able to give her 3 productive years. Under obamacare she would have died within months.
Forewarned is forearmed. God Bless
Somehow this idea of starting a government run insurance company is scary as it would give competition to some 1300 odd private health insurance companies and may lead to further layoffs.

Senator Kerry’s idea to tax high insurance plans seems ambiguous regarding incidence of tax. All that government needs to do is to make people understand the Cost vs. Benefit of healthcare bill.

Is it that difficult?
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