Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

“Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.” –James Madison

Baucus and Pelosi work on their health care potion

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

The headlines triumphantly announced Tuesday that the Senate Finance Committee had passed its version of the health care takeover bill with the help of Republican-In-Name-Only Olympia Snowe of Maine. But as the Heritage Foundation’s Brian Darling writes, there is no bill. In fact, Darling says, “The Senate is using a non-transparent and rare — if not unique — process to pass Obamacare.”

Though Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) gathered Democrats and Republicans to craft a bill, they couldn’t do it, even after weeks of meetings. So, Darling continues, “Baucus then scheduled a markup of an outline of his version of health care reform. Many call it a ‘Vapor Bill,’ because it’s only a description of legislation. No member of the Committee has seen actual legislation, just a 262-page description. That Vapor Bill never will be voted on in the Senate, so many detractors are calling this a ‘make believe markup.’ It’s to fool people into thinking the Senate is actually crafting a bill.”

Not only that, but Darling adds, “I have called around Capitol Hill to find out who has a copy of the bill and none of my high-level contacts know.” Now that’s transparency.

Meanwhile, based on what language is actually accessible, the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm performed an analysis commissioned by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a group representing the industry. Warning that the Baucus bill will saddle everyone who has insurance (including the Democrats’ beloved middle class) with a load of new taxes in various forms, the report highlights an excise tax on employer-provided high-value health plans, Medicare payment cuts that would result in cost-shifting to the private market, and new taxes on the health industry that will inevitably be passed on to consumers.

According to Investor’s Business Daily, “The study estimates that the average family-coverage cost of about $12,300 [per year] could reach $17,200 in 2013 if these provisions were implemented, $21,300 in 2016 and $25,900 in 2019. Meanwhile, average single coverage — $4,600 today — could reach nearly $10,000 in 2019.” No wonder Democrats are afraid to discuss the details of this witch’s brew.

Still, AHIP is no stalwart defender of the Constitution and Rule of Law. As The Wall Street Journal writes, “The irony is that AHIP is now arguing for a more left-wing bill, claiming the Baucus plan isn’t ‘universal’ enough.” Obviously, insurance companies are looking out for their own best interests. It’s too bad they don’t understand that those interests are best served by the free market.

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