10.31.2009 0

Too Hot Not To Note: Narrowly passed House health care bill lacks broad support

  • On: 11/10/2009 09:26:00
  • In: Health Care

  • ALG Editor’s Note: In the following featured commentary from the Detroit News, the Editorial Board points out that Congress should rethink health care before trying to ram through such a divisive and economy-crippling bill.

    Editorial: Narrowly passed House health care bill lacks broad support

    The narrow margin that carried the Nancy Pelosi/Barack Obama health care bill to victory in the House late Saturday should inform the Senate as it finalizes its own plan.

    The bill passed 220-215 with one Republican siding with the majority and 39 mostly moderate and conservative Democrats joining opponents. This is an economy busting bill devised and passed by liberal Democrats who largely ignored appeals for moderation.

    A measure that will impact every American and greatly rework the nation’s health care system should not be rammed through in such a divisive way. The Senate’s task is to scale back the expense and scope of the bill to something more palatable to the broadest number while favoring less disruptive, incremental change at a time when the economy can ill afford higher taxes and deeper deficits.

    Concerns and questions about the bill were waved away by the House majority. But they must be forthrightly dealt with by the Senate.

    Above all else is the cost. Democrats estimate the cost at $1.2 trillion over the next decade, but have worked feverishly to repress credible, contrary estimates that the true expense will be $2 trillion or more. The plan will levy taxes for 10 years to pay for six years of benefits, suggesting that in the second decade the annual costs will explode.

    Democrats say the health care package will not increase the deficit because it contains offsetting cost cuts. To believe that, Americans would have to forget everything they know about how the federal government operates and its inability to manage its current health care programs — Medicare and Medicaid — with anything resembling fiscal responsibility.

    Part of the supposed savings will come by trimming $500 billion from Medicare, a reckless move considering that the program is already hurtling toward insolvency.

    The House bill makes a mockery of President Barack Obama’s promise that those who currently have health insurance they’re satisfied with will not be forced to change. By setting up a government panel to mandate coverage levels, it will strip employees and employers of the right to negotiate their plans that suit their own needs. It also mandates that employers cover 72.5 percent of employee insurance or pay an 8 percent fine. Many employers will find the fine less expensive than the mandated policies and dump their employees into government sponsored plans.

    It returns an HMO-style management system for determining what procedures and treatments are covered, what fees are paid and who can provide care. Americans have unpleasant memories of how such a system worked in the 1980s, and have no reason to think government can execute it any better.

    The bill reaches well beyond the stated goals of providing everyone access to affordable health care and controlling the soaring costs of insurance. It diverts billions of dollars into ill-defined community health programs that are bound to become a major pay-off to Democratic interests. It also contains a series of gratuitous racial preference requirements.

    The House bill has the real potential of raising taxes on businesses and consumers alike, killing jobs in a fragile economy and establishing a massive new bureaucracy with an insatiable appetite for tax dollars.

    It’s a mess. Surely the Senate can do better. It ought to start by acknowledging the House bill is too expensive, too radically changes health care and promises to bring a deep and bitter divide to the nation.

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