Health care bill is a fiasco

December 23, 2009


There were two snow jobs in Washington over the weekend. One came from the sky as a record December snowfall blanketed the city. The other came from Capitol Hill where the Senate labored to cover up the real effects of its massive “health care reform” bill.

All you need to know about this monstrosity is contained in a paragraph from page four of the Congressional Budget Office’s 21-page letter to Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid: “According to CBO and (the Joint Committee on Taxation’s) assessment, enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with the manager’s amendment would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $132 billion over the 2010-2019 period. In the subsequent decade, the collective effect of its provisions would probably be continued reductions in federal budget deficits if all of the provisions continued to be fully implemented. Those estimates are subject to substantial uncertainty.”

So uncertain are they that the CBO later noticed an error in its calculations and a day later on Sunday, Dec. 20 delivered another letter to Senate leaders that said: “Correcting that error has no impact on the estimated effects of the legislation during the 2010-2019 period. However, the correction reduces the degree to which the legislation would lower federal deficits in the decade after 2019.”

The public is being asked to swallow a bill that most senators haven’t read, contains cost projections that are substantially uncertain, and touts outcomes that can be reasonably predicted to be nothing that resembles what Democrats are promising.

Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat and a supposedly staunch pro-lifer, agreed to vote for the bill after, as The Washington Post put it, he got “abortion language” he wanted and “also secured other favors for his home state.” That’s what it’s ultimately about: getting favors for your home state so you can be re-elected. Re-election trumps the Constitution and the will of the people, most of whom oppose the Senate and House health care “reform” bills.

Even one’s stand on a moral issue like abortion can be compromised for the right deal. Inserting language that supposedly restricts federal funding of abortion in order to provide political cover to Sen. Nelson turns out to be a sham. According to House Minority Leader John Boehner, whose office wrote a critique of Reid’s 383-page Manager’s Amendment, “Everyone enrolled in these (health) plans must pay a monthly abortion premium and these funds will be used to pay for the elective abortion services. The Reid amendment directs insurance companies to assess the cost of elective abortion coverage and charge a minimum of $1 per enrollee every month.”

Some defenders of this deal argue that federal money will be magically segregated when it comes to abortion and that money going to abortion providers will be for other “services.” Even if this were true — and there is little truth coming out of Washington these days — that is like saying the government won’t pay for the actual procedure, but it will subsidize other costs, such as the electric bill and the rent on the clinic’s office space.

Republicans have done a good job highlighting the multiple flaws in the Senate bill (and the similarly long House bill). Most importantly for seniors, the Senate bill slashes hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare to pay for a new government program. It includes massive tax increases on individuals and businesses, which means businesses are unlikely to hire workers at a time of double-digit unemployment. It includes a massive new entitlement program — the CLASS Act (short for Community Living Assistance and Support Services) — which Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad has described as “a Ponzi scheme of the first order” and which was recently opposed by a bipartisan majority, including 11 Democrats.

To their credit, Republicans have stood together in opposition to this health care fiasco. Their pledge to voters in the November 2010 election should be to repeal the measure and to offer real insurance and health care reform that will not include an abortion provision, new taxes, more entitlements and a bigger bureaucracy.

Yes, it can be done.


SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years ago

"...that is like saying the government won’t pay for the actual procedure (abortion), but it will subsidize other costs, such as the electric bill and the rent on the clinic’s office space."

But that's exactly what happens with current taxpayer subsidies for abortions at Planned Parenthood.

You cannot segregate money in a bank account. Money is forever fungible.

ivalueamerica 8 years ago

Health care is a fiasco. People are suffering and dieing every day from lack of full access. Children are suffering.

Everyone whines about the politics and yet lets their neighbor die. Disgraceful.

leedavid 8 years ago

Ivalueamerica, since 26 million of the 40 million remain uninsured...what is your point? If we took the billions that was paid out for votes....how much health care could we have purchased for the people you are referring to?

The bill is a fiasco.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

Dear Leader wants to be able to wave a piece of paper and claim he's saved America. He doesn't appear to care what's written on that paper. Reid is giving away hundreds of millions of your tax dollars to buy a trophy for the Community Organizer in Chief.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Simply because insurance legislation needs help is no indication that we're ready to vote in more republicans that do nothing but kill jobs,kill the environment and effectively destroy USA economies.

Instead we democrats/Nader thinkers/Green Party thinkers tend to hold our party's feet to the fire. Thus the demand for the best legislation does not away.

Women NEED to be paying attention! YOUR rights may be in jeopardy!

Marcia Angell, M.D. for Huffington Post –

Program for real reform:

Well, the House health reform bill — known to Republicans as the Government Takeover — finally passed after one of Congress’s longer, less enlightening debates. Two stalwarts of the single-payer movement split their votes; John Conyers voted for it; Dennis Kucinich against. Kucinich was right.

Conservative rhetoric notwithstanding, the House bill is not a “government takeover.” I wish it were. Instead, it enshrines and subsidizes the “takeover” by the investor-owned insurance industry that occurred after the failure of the Clinton reform effort in 1994. To be sure, the bill has a few good provisions (expansion of Medicaid, for example), but they are marginal.

The House bill would take money out of Medicare, and divert it to the private sector and, to some extent, to Medicaid. The remaining costs of the legislation would be paid for by taxes on the wealthy. But although the bill might pay for itself, it does nothing to solve the problem of runaway inflation in the system as a whole. It’s a shell game in which money is moved from one part of our fragmented system to another.

Con’t: http://www.healthcare-now.org/is-the-house-health-care-bill-better-than-nothing/

Healthcare-NOW! Members Oppose Current Version of Congressional Health Bill

Over 125 Healthcare-NOW! members at our 2009 strategy conference voted to oppose the current Congressional version of health insurance reform legislation. While we recognize that many of our allies and supporters may disagree about specific aspects of the pending legislation, we believe that, taken as a whole, it is not worthy of our support. In fact, most of the so-called reforms contained in the bills have already been tried and proven to be a failure at the state level in Massachusetts.

Instead, we should act based on evidence of what works. Medicare, with its lower administrative costs and higher rates of satisfaction, remains the “gold standard” for real healthcare reform.

We anticipated the healthcare debate this year would focus on the true stakeholders: patients and those who care for them. But improved Medicare for All (single-payer) was pushed off the table, by Congress and the private health industry, preventing the American people from learning how access to quality, universal care can be financed without increasing cost to the public.


notajayhawk 8 years ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

"Simply because insurance legislation needs help is no indication that we're ready to vote in more republicans"

As usual, poor, deluded merrill speaks for himself, not the citizens or the voters.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Nothing will be enacted until 2014 so it would be smart to come back take the time to provide National Health Insurance for the nation = dollars and sense.

Senate Tweaks Away YOUR Health Care

By Donna Smith CommonDreams, December 11, 2009

As my grandmother used to say, “I was born on a weekend but not last weekend.” The latest insult to Americans hungry for a bit of healthcare justice for all comes from the news that the Senate health bill now allows insurance companies to place annual limits on payments for some catastrophic illnesses, like cancer.

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Another day. Another lie uncovered in the process. Another piece of this reform bill that favors the for-profit health insurance industry.

Associated Press' Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, " [The] health care loophole would allow coverage limits:" A loophole in the Senate health care bill would let insurers place annual dollar limits on medical care for people struggling with costly illnesses such as cancer, prompting a rebuke from patient advocates.



Flap Doodle 8 years ago

Too bad somebody didn't plug HR 676 enough. That bill would have given us all candy and unicorns and paid off the national debt in 5 years.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Why bring back republicans? Locally at the state or national level? They seem addicted to wreckanomics.

The republican party are masters at putting millions upon millions upon millions of people out of work. All they do with a remarkable degree of consistency is wreck the economy,initiate huge movements of shipping jobs abroad aka the Reagan-Bush Global Economy and try to wreck social security and medicare.

Is there a definite pattern? Absolutely!

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Home Loan Scandal http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  2. The Bush/Cheney Home Loan Scandal http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  3. What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

  4. Why did GW Bush Lie About Social Security?( This would cost taxpayers $4 trillion and wreck the economy) http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html

  5. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

All of the above displays reckless economic behavior that which drains the cookie jars. Wreckanomics!

AND doing nothing brings the cost of a cadillac health insurance plan to $18,310.... up $4,000 over 2009. Of course most do not have Cadillac plans which means those folks are under insured. It is the under insured that make up 50% of filed bankruptcies due to medical care.

The repubs never offered a new plan just more of the same aka most expensive medical insurance on the planet.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

merrill, will you ever grow weary of posting the same set of links? How many times have you posted that list? 400 times? 500 times? Do you even keep track?

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

To the Members of the U.S. Senate:

It is with great sadness that we urge you to vote against the health care reform legislation now before you. As physicians, we are acutely aware of the unnecessary suffering that our nation’s broken health care financing system inflicts on our patients.

We make no common cause with the Republicans’ obstructionist tactics or alarmist rhetoric.

However, we have concluded that the Senate bill’s passage would bring more harm than good.

Those who dislike their current employer-sponsored coverage would be forced to keep it. Those without insurance would be forced to pay private insurers’ inflated premiums, often for coverage so skimpy that serious illness would bankrupt them. And the $476 billion in new public funds for premium subsidies would all go to insurance firms, buttressing their financial and political power, and rendering future reform all the more difficult.

While the fortification of private insurers is the most malignant aspect of the bill, several other provisions threaten harm to vulnerable patients, including:

  • The bill’s anti-abortion provisions would restrict reproductive choice, compromising the health of women and adolescent girls.

  • The new 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans – deceptively labeled a “Cadillac tax” – would hit many middle-income families. The costs of group insurance are driven largely by regional health costs and the demography of the covered group. Hence, the tax targets workers in firms that employ more women (whose costs of care are higher than men’s), and older and sicker employees, particularly those in high-cost regions such as Maine and New York.

  • The bill would drain $43 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the care of the 23 million who will remain uninsured even if the bill works as planned. These threatened hospitals are also a key resource for emergency care, mental health care and other services that are unprofitable for hospitals under current payment regimes. In many communities, severely ill patients will be left with no place to go – a human rights abuse.

  • The bill would leave hundreds of millions of Americans with inadequate insurance – an “actuarial value” as low as 60 percent of actual health costs. Predictably, as health costs continue to grow, more families will face co-payments and deductibles so high that they preclude adequate access to care. Such coverage is more akin to a hospital gown than to a warm winter coat.

CON'T in its' entirety: http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/december/pro-single-payer-physicians-call-for-defeat-of-senate-health-bill

Oliver Fein, M.D., President David U. Himmelstein, M.D., Co-founder Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., Co-founder Physicians for a National Health Program

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

While the U.S. Senate trudges willfully along on the health care reform legislation, progressives are still divided on whether or not to kill the bill. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean had his sights set on its demise last week before softening his gaze. Jane Hamsher, David Sirota, and a handful of other mainstays in the liberal media are still holding firm in their resolve that it's no good.

On the other side of the tent, New York Times columnist and Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman thinks the bill, though flawed, makes significant strides.

Stepping into the debate now, we have physicians and nurses. Physicians for a National Health Program, a group of 17,000 single-payer advocates who just happen to also be doctors, issued a press release today urging the Senate to shut it down. They see the good and the bad of the bill, and believe there's more bad. Their biggest issues are the individual mandate, the cuts to Medicare, and the fact that some 23 million people will still be left uninsured when it's all said and done.

The docs want Congress to go back and build a Medicare-for-all plan. Their open letter to the Senate included this passage: “We ask that you defeat the bill currently under debate, and immediately move to consider the single-payer approach – an expanded and improved Medicare-for-All program – which prioritizes the advancement of our nation’s health over the enhancement of private, profit-seeking interests.”

Representing more than 150,000 nurses in the National Nurses Union, the group's co-president Karen Higgins, RN, contributes this to a piece in The Nation: "Sadly, we have ended up with legislation that fails to meet the test of true health-care reform, guaranteeing high quality, cost effective care for all Americans, and instead are further locking into place a system that entrenches the choke-hold of the profit-making insurance giants on our health. If this bill passes, the industry will become more powerful and could be beyond the reach of reform for generations."

The organization also cites 10 major flaws in the bill currently under consideration, including the mandate, various major loopholes, and what they call an affordability mirage.

There are voices on both sides of this fight that I have enormous respect for, people much smarter and knowledgeable than I am on this issue. That makes it very hard to know which team to cheer for.

More: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474977958832&grpId=3659174697241980&nav=Groupspace

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

"Over 125 Healthcare-NOW! members at our 2009 strategy conference voted to oppose the current Congressional version of health insurance reform legislation. While we recognize that many of our allies and supporters may disagree about specific aspects of the pending legislation, we believe that, taken as a whole, it is not worthy of our support. In fact, most of the so-called reforms contained in the bills have already been tried and proven to be a failure at the state level in Massachusetts.

Instead, we should act based on evidence of what works. Medicare, with its lower administrative costs and higher rates of satisfaction, remains the “gold standard” for real healthcare reform."

National Organization for Women/NOW's current president, Terry O'Neill was present as a major stakeholder at this event. Terry made it abundantly clear that womens' rights were at stake therefore it would be a mistake to move forward as written. Yes this matter is a large concern along with others of equal value. Encroaching on Pro Choice is a deal breaker.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

Mournful sounds are coming from the House. State AGs are threatening lawsuits over the bribe to Nebraska. Dear Leader is working so distance himself. Heroic measures may not save the Senate bill. Tune in tomorrow to see what fresh disaster will afflict the Fresh Prince of DC.

jafs 8 years ago


How well do you think we're doing overall right now?

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