Beware the nuggets in that health bill

Does anyone, anyone at all, know what in blazes he's talking about when it comes to health care reform?

Even the supposedly nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the font of wisdom about what health care reform will cost, admits it doesn't know for sure.

On Saturday, the CBO partnered with the staff of the congressional
Joint Committee on Thumbnail image for health.jpgTaxation (JCT) to issue -- take a breath -- "an
analysis of the budgetary effects of the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Senate Amendment 2786 in the nature of a
substitute to H.R. 3590 (as printed in the Congressional Record on
November 19, 2009), incorporating the effects of changes proposed in
the manager's amendment released earlier today." In English, those are
changes that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,
D-Nev., slipped into a Big Foot bill that few people have read
incorporating changes that no one really understands. Which means we
pundits will ignore it. 

The very next day, the CBO issued a
corrected analysis, saying, in effect, oops, we were wrong about the
long-term financial consequences of Reid's changes, but it doesn't
really matter, because, well, it's too hard for me explain in 700 words
here, and even if I thought I could, I'd probably be wrong. (Read it
for yourself here)

OK, let's take as a given that the correction doesn't matter, but here's the kicker: In explaining why the bill would slow Medicare's
increased rate of spending (a critical element of the legislation), the
CBO said, "It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate
could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through
greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or would reduce
access to care or diminish the quality of care."

In other words,
"Ignore what we've just said." What we're really saying is: Seniors
could get less care or worse care. Maybe that's what America needs to
control rising health care costs. But this is counter to the line the White House, Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats are feeding us that just about everyone will be a winner.

You
learn a lot by reading the small print, and here's another nugget: The
CBO noted that Reid's changes included the replacement of the federal
"public option" with "multi-state plans that would be offered under
contract with the Office of Personnel Management." Most of us have only
been vaguely aware of this, so would someone please explain its
implications? Is one government health plan to be replaced by 50
government plans operated under federal direction? Has anyone really
analyzed how that would work? Would that lock Americans into rigid
state options, even more than the current system that prevents
consumers from shopping for health insurance across state lines?

(Speaking
of nuggets, I assume that my fellow seniors know that our benefits will
be determined by a newly established Independent Payment Advisory Board
that would cut our medical services if Medicare costs rise faster than
some unspecified rate. "Independent" of whom or what?)

According
to the Obama/Reid/Pelosi/Democratic script, Americans will get more and
better care, at less cost, without tax increases (except on evil rich
people). Everyone will have to be covered by insurance, but
inexplicably, the bill will leave millions of Americans uncovered.
People (up to 400 percent of poverty level) who can't pay the premiums
for government-mandated individual health policies will be made whole
by government subsidies. And the federal deficit will be reduced.

This
defies common sense, but like most "comprehensive" plans offered up by
omniscient liberals, they must be accepted on faith. Or else you'll be
called a bad name. Just one question: If the CBO has to backtrack on
and is uncertain of its own predictions, whom are we supposed to trust?

Would you buy a used car from this man? That's what they used to say about the late President Richard Nixon.
Tricky Dick, he was called. I'm making no defense of the Trickster, who
threw the country into cynicism so deep that it took decades to recover.

But
what will be the consequences of setting artificial deadlines for the
passage of legislation that most Americans don't understand and
increasingly oppose? First, it had to be passed by August, and now it's
Christmas. It's a cynical game the White House and Democrats are
playing so that they can say they accomplished "something." Although I
bet that not 1 in 100 Americans can tell you what that "something" is.
But if this bill is enacted, we'll find out, even though it could take
decades.

This column also appeared in the Chicago Tribune.

Comments

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  • The Three Stooges strike again! Take a look at Frank Rich's column from last Sunday's NYT. For the first time in my life, I agreed with everything he said. His column, while mainly about Tiger Woods, took some real shots at Obama and the Democrats. In so many words, he said that Obama is an empty suit, capable only of speech-making and lacking in decision-making and promise-keeping. If Frank Rich is for us, we shall fear no evil.

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