It Could Be Done in 40 Pages

It looks like the Democrats are about to embark on a $125 million media campaign to sell to the American public health care reform- Obama style- in advance of the midterm elections.  It must have dawned on some liberal egghead Democratic strategist that this remains one of the Democratic Party’s Achille’s heels (among others) this election cycle.  Of course, practically every poll out there shows opposition to Obamacare, some on the order of a 2-1 margin.  It is especially troublesome among the independent voters.  Or maybe it is because as people digest this law and analyze it, the more they realize the cost to the country, the cost to their wallets and the cost to the quality of health care this nonsense will bring about.  Exactly why would you want to engage in a $125 million public relations blitz other than realizing that the electorate is smarter than you think, or if the law is really good for this country?  Is it the fact that it was rammed through Congress with only lip service to bipartisanship on the part of Obama, Pelosi and Reid?  Is the process, the actual “legislation,” or both?

Several sources do a greater job of revealing and citing professional studies of the effect of Obamacare.  But to summarize some of the inconvenient truths to the Democratic Party:

         * the cost of most current health care premiums will increase

         * individual premiums will increase 10-13% by 2016 with 43% of those people ineligible for government subsidies

         * it will kill an estimated 690,000 jobs each year

         * a minimum of 4 million Americans will lose their employer-based health benefits and that is the most modest estimate

         * Medicare will have to cut services without cutting costs

         * the increased cost to Medicaid due to more individuals and families using this service will be shifted to the states rather than the federal government and State taxes will have to be increased as a result

         * taxes on drug makers, the makers of medical devices and health insurers will be passed on to consumers thus further driving up the costs of health care

         * an estimated 18 million Americans will pay $33 billion in penalties for failure to satisfy the potentially unconstitutional individual mandate

         * between 2014 and 2019, firms not meeting the federal standards established for health care coverage will pay an estimated $876 million in penalties, which would actually be more cost-effective than offering insurance that met the Federal mandates under this law

         * of the estimated 34 million Americans additionally covered under the law, about 18 million will be enrolled in Medicaid, a public welfare program originally designed for those living in the technical definition of poverty

         * 7.4 million senior citizens will lose coverage under Medicare Advantage

         * an estimated 15% of Medicare providers would either go out of business or opt out of the system because it would be unprofitable otherwise

         * the just-released White House internal memos predicting that 51% of those covered through employer-based plans would lose their coverage in direct contradiction to Obama’s one of many “Let me make this clear…” pledges to the contrary.

It would appear that $125 million has a whole lot of explaining to do in the coming months.  Obamacare is spelled out over more than 2,000+ pages.  There will probably be more dire forecasts and predictions as more pages are actually read, especially by those who actually cast votes for it like a herd of buffalo heading over the cliff with Mama Buffalo Nancy Pelosi and Papa Buffalo Harry Reid leading the way.

Contrary to the claims of the Republicans offering “the same old failed policies of the past” in response to health care reform, they were essentially eliminated from the talks other than silly public displays of alleged bipartisanship.  Contrary to the claims of the Democrats that Republicans offered no real solutions, those real solutions were ignored and derided.  As Charles Krauthammer commented in an article around the time of passage, he- a columnist- could have written a better bill in 40 pages of less.  So, if not Obamacare, then what?

A website called www.smallbill.orgis a great starting point.  To briefly summarize it, they start with cutting costs by preventing malpractice lawsuits.  This would relieve the practice of defensive medicine by doctors.  This can be done by capping noneconomic and punitive damages.  It is estimated that this act alone would create $53 billion in savings with NO cost to the federal government.  In the over 2000 pages of Obamacare, tort reform is not even mentioned.  One need only look at the list of donors to the Democratic Party to see the reason.  If the legal profession- those who bring the malpractice suits to costly trials- overwhelmingly contributes to your Party, it does not take a genius to see the connection.

Secondly, Americans should be permitted to purchase insurance across state lines.  This would allow Americans to shop for insurance tailored toward their individual or family’s needs.  It would not be unlike the purchase of car insurance.  For example, recently when shopping for car insurance, once I made that on-line inquiry, I received innumerable offers in my spam folder.  The same would happen with health care insurance.  Why?  Because it increases competition because companies are fighting for your premium to strengthen their bottom line.  To any Democrat reading this, its called capitalism.

Currently, Federal regulations ban companies from offering more than a 20% discount for those who eat and drink in moderation, exercise, or do not smoke.  Why a 20% cap?  This only serves to discourage individual cost-cutting efforts by both the insurance provider and individuals covered.  Access to health care insurance could be increased by ending the inherently unfair tax on the uninsured or self-insured.  Instead, they should receive a tax break similar to those enjoyed under employer-provided insurance.  The refundable annual tax credits would go directly to the American people, not the insurance companies.  You could even leave the employer-provided insurance its tax exemption if you desire.  This would result in an additional $80 billion in government expenditures coupled with a $100 billion in reduced revenues.

Another proposal is to further help those who are uninsured and have expensive pre-existing conditions by increasing federal support for state-run or state-organized high risk pools.  They already exist in 34 states and should be encouraged in all 50 states.  This would cost an estimated $100 billion to the federal government.  Disproportionate Share Hospital payments reimburse hospitals for care of the uninsured in emergency rooms.  If less people are uninsured, the savings from these payments can then be diverted elsewhere (say, deficit or debt reduction?).  Because they will always be necessary, the payments should be gradually decreased over a specified time period and then indexed to inflation.

There are other measures that would cost the government absolutely nothing.  For example, some of the small-group reforms in the original House bill can be adopted.  Incidentally, they were inserted when Republicans were still welcome at the negotiating table.  There should be standards for electronic administration, but note “standards,” not the Federal government implementing and paying for the entire system.  There should be necessary reforms to further encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts.

Taken together, these proposals would cost the Federal government an approximate $47 billion.  While many would rail at even that figure, consider the fact that Obamacare would cost the Federal government at least$1.3 TRILLION.  Compared to Obamacare, the alternative is a drop in the proverbial bucket.  And regarding cost-effectiveness, these reforms insure an additional 1.1 million Americans for every $20 billion in outlays.  In contrast, the Democratic Obamacare WILL insure 260,000 Americans for every $20 billion in expenditures.

It will insure more Americans more cost-effectively with less government intrusion into health care using dubious constitutional rights to do so under the Commerce clause.  It would provide greater latitude to states to regulate the insurance industry which is where this area was traditionally relegated.  It calls for no mandates on individuals or families and actually encourages those without insurance to purchase it.  Money talks, threats of penalties do not!  And of course insurance company executives can stand behind Obamacare because it steers, under threat of the government, more customers into their arms.  Wouldn’t it make more sense for those people to voluntarily move into their arms through financial incentives and fairness in the tax code?  And of course the pharmaceutical industry supports Obamacare because they got what they lobbied for which was disallowing the reimportation of cheaper, but equally effective drugs from places like Canada.  All the silly side issues like the Louisiana Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback and so on would have never been considered.  Abortion coverage would not have been an issue.  There would have been no talk of death panels or shortages of doctors and consequential rationing of health care.

It is not too late to stop the nonsense that is Obamacare.  The Democrats can spend billions on a public relations campaign to save political hides this November, but I have greater faith in the American public to see through their charade.  And hopefully websites like this one and the many people who write and comment on redstate.com will be the voice of the more reasonable alternative to the drivel spread over 2,000 pages of trash.