Health Care Cost Nightmare

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” –Thomas Jefferson

Health Care Cost Nightmare

Harry Reid claims his 2,000-page bill will reduce the deficit. He’s quite the comedian.

It’s an accepted fact that no government program comes in on budget, and this maxim likely won’t change with the health care legislation that recently passed the House. Republican analysis of the bill in the Senate Budget Committee reveals that a more realistic price tag for the House version, after the benefit provisions are figured in, comes to $3 trillion over 10 years, not $1 trillion as Democrats claim. The disparity comes from the fact that the taxes and fees meant to pay for the bill occur immediately, while major aspects of “reform” won’t be implemented until at least 2013. Thus, the true cost of the plan won’t reveal itself until well after the current president has stood for re-election.

Despite Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) assurances that the bill will lower health care costs, another report released this week by the nonpartisan Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that the House plan would actually raise costs by $289 billion over 10 years. Furthermore, Medicare would be cut by half a trillion dollars, leading to reduced benefits and services.

On that note, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Senate’s 2,074-page, $849 billion version of the health care takeover plan. Reid has laid out an ambitious plan to pass HarryCare by Christmas.

The Senate bill clocks in a tad cheaper than the House version in part because many major provisions, such as the public option, would be delayed until 2014 — one year later than the House bill. Reid also claims the bill will reduce the federal deficit by $650 billion in its second 10 years. A 2,000-page bill will reduce the deficit? That Reid is quite the comedian. Besides, while the Congressional Budget Office says the bill will reduce the deficit by $130 billion over 10 years, CBO cautions that its effect on the deficit over the following decade would be “subject to substantial uncertainty.” That’s comforting, isn’t it?

Notably, the Senate bill includes a 40 percent tax on high-deductible “Cadillac” insurance plans (though, naturally, Congress’ Cadillac plan is exempt) as opposed to the House’s tax on the “rich.” It also includes a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgeries (how will Nancy feel about that?), which apparently helps pay for providing — surprise — federal subsidies for abortion.

Reid wants to hold a vote to begin debate as early as this weekend. He has “promised” not to use the procedural tactic of reconciliation, which would allow him to pass the bill with only 51 votes instead of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster — but experience shows how little we should trust Democrats’ promises.

As for that prized debate, Harkin referred to a Republican call to read the full bill on the Senate floor as a political tactic, and he threatens that Democrats will hold a live quorum to keep everyone in the chamber while the reading is taking place — which sounds awfully like a political tactic to us.

It’s interesting that both parties seem to view the public reading of the bill as some sort of parliamentary game. Perhaps if public readings of proposed legislation took place all of the time, we would actually know what Congress is up to. What a novel idea.

Democrat senators who pride themselves as being deficit hawks will have a tough choice to make in the coming days and weeks. Will they support HarryCare, which makes them look like hypocrites when they face the voters next year and in 2012? Or will they do the right thing and stop this runaway entitlement before it shoots out of the gate?

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