Opinion

Opinion

GOP must make case against Obamacare

February 18, 2012

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Give him points for cleverness. President Obama’s birth control “accommodation” was as politically successful as it was morally meaningless. It was nothing but an accounting trick that still forces Catholic (and other religious) institutions to provide medical insurance that guarantees free birth control, tubal ligation and morning-after abortifacients — all of which violate church doctrine on the sanctity of life.

The trick is that these birth control/abortion services will supposedly be provided independently and free of charge by the religious institution’s insurance company. But this changes none of the moral calculus. Holy Cross Hospital, for example, is still required by law to engage an insurance company that is required by law to provide these doctrinally proscribed services to all Holy Cross employees.

Nonetheless, the accounting device worked politically. It took only a handful of compliant Catholic groups — Obamacare cheerleaders dying to return to the fold — to hail the alleged compromise, and hand Obama a major political victory.

Before, Obama’s coalition had been split. His birth control mandate was fiercely opposed by such stalwart friends as former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and pastor Rick Warren (Obama’s choice to give the invocation at his inauguration), who declared he would go to jail rather than abide by the regulation. After the “accommodation,” it was the (mostly) Catholic opposition that fractured. The mainstream media then bought the compromise as substantive, and the issue was defused.

A brilliant sleight of hand. But let’s for a moment accept the president on his own terms. Let’s accept his contention that this “accommodation” is a real shift of responsibility to the insurer. Has anyone considered the import of this new mandate? The president of the United States has just ordered private companies to give away for free a service that his own health and human services secretary has repeatedly called a major financial burden.

On what authority? Where does it say that the president can unilaterally order a private company to provide an allegedly free-standing service at no cost to certain select beneficiaries?

This is government by presidential fiat. In Venezuela, that’s done all the time. Perhaps we should we call Obama’s “accommodation” Presidential Decree No. 1.

Consider the constitutional wreckage left by Obamacare:

First, its assault on the free exercise of religion. Only churches themselves are left alone. Beyond the churchyard gate, religious autonomy disappears. Every other religious institution must bow to the state because, by this administration’s regulatory definition, church schools, hospitals and charities are not “religious,” and thus have no right to the free exercise of religion — no protection from being forced into doctrinal violations commanded by the state.

Second, its assault on free enterprise. To solve his own political problem, the president presumes to order a private company to enter into a contract for the provision of certain services — all of which are free. And yet, this breathtaking arrogation of power is simply the logical extension of Washington’s takeover of the private system of medical care — a system Obama farcically pretends to be maintaining.

Under Obamacare, the state treats private insurers the way it does government-regulated monopolies and utilities. It determines everything of importance. Insurers, by definition, set premiums according to risk. Not anymore. The risk ratios (for age, gender, smoking, etc.) are decreed by Washington. This is nationalization in all but name. The insurer is turned into a middleman, subject to state control — and presidential whim.

Third, the assault on individual autonomy. Every citizen without insurance is ordered to buy it, again under penalty of law. This so-called individual mandate is now before the Supreme Court — because never before has the already inflated Commerce Clause been used to compel a citizen to enter into a private contract with a private company by mere fact of his existence.

This constitutional trifecta — the state invading the autonomy of religious institutions, private companies and the individual citizen — should not surprise. It is what happens when the state takes over one-sixth of the economy.

In 2010, when all this lay hazily in the future, the sheer arrogance of Obamacare energized a popular resistance powerful enough to deliver an electoral shellacking to Obama. Yet two years later, as the consequences of that overreach materialize before our eyes, the issue is fading. This constitutes a huge failing of the opposition party whose responsibility it is to make the opposition argument.

Every presidential challenger says he will repeal Obamacare on Day One. Well, yes. But is any of them making the case for why?

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. His email is letters@charleskrauthammer.com.

Comments

Gandalf 3 years, 3 months ago

"The trick is that these birth control/abortion services will supposedly be provided independently and free of charge by the religious institution’s insurance company. "

Charlie is even dumber today than usual! Since when is insurance free? I want me some!!!

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

You may not be able to get free insurance, but you are certainly able to get free health care. Whenever you are sick or injured, just go to any hospital and tell them you are indigent and/or homeless. You will receive appropriate medical acre. Free. (Free for you, that is. It's the rest of us working people, the taxpayers, that will be picking up the tab).

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

There goes j, yet again parroting the conventional wisdom, while reality is nowhere near what he wants to believe.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

As far as I know, that's not at all required, or necessarily true.

Hospitals are only required to deliver emergency care at no cost, which leaves a lot of other health care they won't offer for free, if they don't want to.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

And how would a hospital know if it's an emergency or not? The hospital will examine the person to determine what is ailing him/her. If you have a cold, they will tell you that and tell you how to treat it. If it something more severe, they will treat you for that. I knew a woman who took her sick child to the E.R. when her son had a temp. of 99.4. Then I met another person who did essentially the same thing. Then another person with the same story. Then another and another. San Francisco General Hospital will not treat you in it's E.R. if you have insurance. The whole hospital, except for it's trauma unit, is reserved for people without insurance. Drunks know it's a good place to sleep on cold nights. They make up some ailment and then get a warm cot and a free meal while waiting to be seen by a doctor. The stories in the local paper were endless. I recall one story where a homeless alcoholic racked up a bill of over a million dollars when he kept calling 911 so he could get a free ride to the hospital. He knew what to tell responders.
The point is that while there is abuse at the top end in a for profit health care system, there is a lot of abuse at the other end. Those in the middle are getting squeezed from the top and the bottom.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

San Francisco General is one hospital, in California.

Your post stated "go to any hospital..."

Seems like a rather large stretch to generalize that much from one hospital in another state to me.

The fact remains that hospitals aren't required to offer any care other than emergency care to those who can't pay, at least on the federal level - see EMTALA.

If they choose to do so, that's their choice - don't you believe in choice, and the ability of businesses to act as they see fit?

jhawkinsf 3 years, 3 months ago

The fact remain I could go into LMH today, complaining of some ailment, that may or may not be an emergency, be seen and if I tell them I'm indigent and homeless, those services will not be paid for. Let me give you an example. I have a stomach ache. Maybe it's appendicitis, maybe I drank too much cheap wine. If I'm tossed from the hospital on the assumption that it's the wine and then my appendicitis ruptures, someone at that hospital is going to be sued. So my stomach ache will be looked at. Even though 99 out of 100 times it will in fact be cheap wine. And I'm not paying. And you can mandate me all you want, but if I'm a homeless alcoholic, I'm not spending my wine money on Obamacare. Gandalf's post above rightfully states that requiring insurance would stop much of the abuse, in theory. If I had made that statement, I would have put a much stronger emphasis on the "in theory" part.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

They may make an effort to determine whether or not you have an emergency condition that they are required to treat - that makes sense.

But, that's far from offering free health care of any sort to anybody that wants it, even if they can't pay for it.

And, yes, of course, that doesn't get paid for by them - that's because we seem to have decided as a society that we'd prefer people don't just die because they can't afford medical care for emergencies.

Do you think that's what should happen instead?

Orwell 3 years, 3 months ago

As opposed to forced reproduction urged by the supporters of "less government."

Michael LoBurgio 3 years, 3 months ago

If alter boys could get pregnant the catholic church would change their views on abortion and birth control!

Michael LoBurgio 3 years, 3 months ago

The affordable Health Care Act covers preexisting conditons and also covered over 2.5 million college students that were able to stay on their parents ins.

The Peaparty Plan If you get sick hurry up and die!

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Not an accurate or complete quote.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

Medical Insurance industry increased rates kills jobs and small business

Then the industry and it's profiteers run political ads blaming democrats. Yet the cost of medical insurance is in the hands of the industry.

Get this... the insurance industry is laundering money through the US Chamber of Commerce to make it appear as if the medical insurance industry is the innocent bystander. The last time the industry pulled this stunt was to keep Smart Single Payer insurance off the table by laundering $1.4 million health care dollars a day on ads and politicians.

Their politics keeps the cost of medical insurance going through the roof. What reckless use of health care dollars. Consumers should put them out business!

Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

Who has received a refund from the medical insurance industry? This is outright fraud!

Is there an FBI investigation under way? A Grand Jury investigation underway?

Why you ask?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.

At a committee hearing yesterday, three health-care specialists testified that insurers go to great lengths to avoid responsibility for sick people, use deliberately incomprehensible documents to mislead consumers about their benefits, and sell "junk" policies that do not cover needed care. Rockefeller said he was exploring "why consumers get such a raw deal from their insurance companies."

The star witness at the hearing was a former public relations executive for major health insurers whose testimony boiled down to this: Don't trust the insurers.

"The industry and its backers are using fear tactics, as they did in 1994, to tar a transparent and accountable -- publicly accountable -- health-care option," said Wendell Potter, who until early last year was vice president for corporate communications at the big insurer Cigna.

Insurers make paperwork confusing because "they realize that people will just simply give up and not pursue it" if they think they have been shortchanged, Potter said.

More on this story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062401636.html

Flap Doodle 3 years, 3 months ago

Wow! A three year old link! You're really cooking now, merrill!

Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

Senate Democrats seem just as tone deaf as they reel from sticker shock at the price of their private insurance-based reform proposals. We the people don't need the Congressional Budget Office to tell us that a system geared towards maximizing insurance and pharmaceutical profits is unaffordable.

What politicians fail to grasp is that voters are wise to these insatiable Cookie Monsters who, according to the Washington Post, are paying lobbyists $1.4 million each day to defeat meaningful reform. Like the throngs surrounding the Montana offices of Sen. Max Baucus, people everywhere are outraged that their representatives accept millions of dollars from insurance and pharmaceutical interests but refuse to consider a quality, affordable public health insurance option.

The overwhelming majority of us want a robust public plan option because we know it's the only way to keep private insurers honest and make them compete for our business. Every single person I met along my journey is willing to pay his or her fair share. But when our elected representatives show no fortitude to rein in these voracious corporate interests, our anger grows.

My journey outside the Beltway shows that lawmakers should no longer assume people will quietly take their lumps and resign themselves to spaghetti suppers to pay off back-breaking medical debts. The ground is shifting.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathie-mcclure/healthcare-industry-and-c_b_227838.html

Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

Former Lawmakers and Congressional Staffers Hired to Lobby on Health Care

Former House majority leader Richard K. Armey, is one of several ex-congressmen working on behalf of health-care companies as a Senate committee considers legislation. Armey represents a New Jersey pharmaceutical firm.

By Dan Eggen and Kimberly Kindy Washington Post Staff Writers

The nation's largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues, according to an analysis of lobbying disclosures and other records.

The tactic is so widespread that three of every four major health-care firms have at least one former insider on their lobbying payrolls, according to The Washington Post's analysis.

Nearly half of the insiders previously worked for the key committees and lawmakers, including Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), debating whether to adopt a public insurance option opposed by major industry groups. At least 10 others have been members of Congress, such as former House majority leaders Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) and Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), both of whom represent a New Jersey pharmaceutical firm.

The hirings are part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry, which is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying against affordable medical health insurance.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/05/AR2009070502770.html

An estimated 6 lobbyist per elected official = high dollar reckless spending of health care dollars. They need to be put out of business.

jhawkjjm 3 years, 3 months ago

So if we can't trust the insurance companies, then we need a single payer system. Which would be true government run health care. (PPACA is NOT government run healthcare, despite what people say)

Let's talk about the healthcare cycle. An uninsured person does not go to the doctor when sick until it becomes so bad that they go to the ER knowing they cannot be denied care. They can't pay so the hospital has to make up that cost elsewhere. So they charge more for all their services. Which means cost goes up. Cost going up means that the expected cost associated with medical claims goes up. Which means that premiums go up. Thus cost to employers and people go up, which leads to more people dropping coverage. That means more uninsured, so when they get sick go to the ER....

You break the cycle by educating people and having people use more cost efficient methods of getting care- like going to a personal physician or walk-in center. Most people won't do this if they don't have insurance. So again, either educate people (not working) or require people to have insurance i.e the individual mandate.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

Sorry, but all too often good sense conflicts with conservative ideology, and therefore needs to be treated with hysterical demagoguery of the type that can be read in this editorial.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

What's the constitutional justification for the individual mandate again?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

Just because something makes good sense doesn't mean that it has constitutional justification.

boltzmann 3 years, 3 months ago

Given that the mandate is enforced through the payment of an extra tax if one chooses not to by health insurance, it would be covered under the constitutional right of Congress to levy taxes. It really isnt a"mandate" per se as one can opt out by paying the extra tax. Mathematically, it is no different than the child tax credit. If you choose not to have a child you are hit with an extra tax that those with children do not pay. However, I have never seen this referred to as a "procreation mandate". The only difference is that in one case you pay an extra tax if you don't do something ( buy health insurance) whereas in the other case you get a tax break if you do something ( have children), but mathematically and logically they are equivalent.

boltzmann 3 years, 3 months ago

Sorry, it is not false. By definition mathematically the same is equivalent to logically the same. The only consequence under the law of not buying insurance is to pay a tax penalty. That is it, so one is free not to do it and pay additional tax. No one is forcing anyone to get health insurance - it is just that if you don't you have to pay an extra tax. If there were criminal penalties associated with not buying health insurance - i.e. they put you in jail if you didn't, then I would agree with you, however, that is not the case.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Well, we'll see if the SC agrees with that argument.

It would make more sense to me if those that had purchased health insurance got a credit, though.

Why not do it that way instead, if it's just like a lot of other tax "credits"?

jhawkjjm 3 years, 3 months ago

Show me where in the original constitution it says women have the right to vote. African americans have the right to vote. None of these were in the original constitution. Society has changed drastically since the founding fathers drafted it. To accept the document as it is strictly written is foolish and shortsighted. When medicine during the time the constiution was written involves bleeding and leaches, why would the drafters of the Constitution think of health care.

Or a simpler alternative. Tell me where it says the government can't require it's citizens to purchase something for the betterment of everyone. Is the only arguement you could use that the power belongs to the states to mandate insurance (like state mandated auto insurance)?

If the health exchange (which includes subsidies for those who cannot afford care) is a national program and crosses state lines, then yes the federal government has juristiction over it.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

That's right.

And, that's why there were constitutional amendments to allow that - that's the correct process for such changes.

Your argument assumes that the government has any power that it's not specifically forbidden, rather than having only the powers granted by the constitution. It's clear that the founders intended to limit the power of the federal government - Article 10 states that powers not reserved to the federal government revert to the states/the people.

So the burden is on those who claim the feds have this right - where is that found? The argument seems to be the use of the ICC, which assumes a very broad interpretation of that, which would in fact allow them to require purchasing just about anything - does that seem reasonable to you?

The feds may in fact have "jurisdiction" over a health exchange if it in fact crosses state lines - that would give them the right to regulate how that works.

That doesn't give them the right to require individuals purchase health insurance, in my view.

Let's use an analogy - Best Buy is a national chain, so the feds have some sort of right to regulate the ICC part of that. Does that give them the right to mandate that you buy a TV from them, or face a fine/penalty?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 3 months ago

Heaven forfend that Catholic employers should have to treat their employees as well as every other employer in the country.

woodscolt 3 years, 3 months ago

The republicans continue to assault women's rights in the name of religion. Obama came up with one of the most remarkable compromises in presidential history and the the pubs still have their guns aimed at women. Goes to show you it was never about religion . Their real issue was attacking women.

woodscolt 3 years, 3 months ago

Nice how you forgot to mention that you and your ilk are attacking women's rights. Name a catholic insurance company and I'll name an insurance company that is against women's rights.

johnsont1 3 years, 3 months ago

you're right, except when you responded to woodscolt, you forgot to debate the point of his post. if you think women have the right to have these things, great. the next step is allowing them free and easy access to them, and that's what this compromise does. i believe woodscolt's attempt at logic implied that you disagreed with the point of his post

Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

"we need a single payer system. Which would be true government run health care" Not true.

The military and the VA represent a government health care system in which even doctors are on the government payroll.

An improved Medicare Single Payer Insurance program is not government insurance because it is paid for by the users NOT the government. Even IF tax dollars were set aside to cover the cost that is still USERS paying because those tax dollars belong to us. We are the source of tax dollars. It's also a means by which OUR tax dollars come back home to our community.

The health care industry would still be a private industry.

Shouldn't those who have carried medical insurance for years on end be trying to get a refund on that billion(s) dollar fraud scam perpetrated on the consumers? Or should consumers simply sweep that great profit scheme under the rug?

Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

Food for Thought:

Improved Medicare Single Payer Insurance for All is one substantial part of the solution.

  • Easy to Implement: Medicare has been in existence since 1966, it provides healthcare to those 65 and older, and satisfaction levels are high. The structure is already in place and can be easily expanded to cover everyone.

  • Simple: One entity – established by the government – would handle billing and payment at a cost significantly lower than private insurance companies. Private insurance companies spend about 31% of every healthcare dollar on administration. Medicare now spends about 3%.

  • Real Choice: An expanded and improved Medicare for All would provide personal choice of doctors and other healthcare providers. While financing would be public, providers would remain private. As with Medicare, you choose your doctor, your hospital, and other healthcare providers.

  • State and Local Tax Relief: Medicare for All would assume the costs of healthcare delivery, thus relieving the states and local governments of the cost of healthcare, including Medicaid, and as a result reduce State and local tax burdens.

  • Expanded coverage: Would cover all medically necessary healthcare services – no more rationing by private insurance companies. There would be no limits on coverage, no co-pays or deductibles, and services would include not only primary and specialized care but also prescription drugs, dental, vision, mental health services, and long-term care.

  • Everyone In, Nobody Out: Everyone would be eligible and covered. No longer would doctors ask what insurance you have before they treat you.

  • No More Overpriced Private Health Insurance: Medicare for All would eliminate the need for private health insurance companies who put profit before healthcare, unfairly limit choice, restrict who gets coverage, and force people into bankruptcy.

  • Lower Costs: Most people will pay significantly less for healthcare. Savings will be achieved in reduced administrative costs and in negotiated prices for prescription drugs.

http://www.healthcare-now.org/

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 3 months ago

"Give him points for cleverness. President Obama’s birth control “accommodation” was as politically successful as it was morally meaningless."

Yes, Charlie, a vacuous controversy is best served by a meaningless solution.

beatrice 3 years, 3 months ago

Catholic hospitals hire more than just Catholic employees. As a result, they must provide insurance that covers many things, including birth control. However, the Catholic employees themselves don't have to take advantage of this part of an insurance plan. In fact, since the Pope has told them not to, I am sure they wouldn't. Does the church really believe that Catholics would ever choose to do something other than what they are told? The real question is, why does the Catholic church have such little faith in their flock?

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Why?

What is the justification for requiring them to offer that particular form of health insurance?

beatrice 3 years, 3 months ago

Because it is simply a standard part of one's ordinary medical needs. Again, Catholics don't have to partake in any birth control they don't want to, so it doesn't prevent anyone from practicing their own religious beliefs. The specifics of one's health care is not the concern of the employer, even if they really believe their religion tells them it is.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

So it's ok with you to require an employer provide health insurance that covers "one's ordinary medical needs"?

Who defines those?

Also, it's not part of the ordinary needs of many people - gay/lesbian folks, folks who are infertile, folks who are old enough that children are not an option, etc.

If the employer is providing the benefit, why shouldn't they be the ones to decide what that is?

Do you also support requiring employers to offer certain kinds of retirement plans?

Katara 3 years, 3 months ago

Actually all those groups you identify could have birth control included as "one's ordinary medical needs" as birth control is used often to treat other conditions instead of just preventing pregnancy.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Ok.

I assume you're referring to the pill - nobody uses most other forms for other reasons, right?

My main point is that it's not easy to define "ordinary medical needs" as those may differ widely from individual to individual.

usnsnp 3 years, 3 months ago

As usual Charles leaves things our of his comments that would not fit his conclusions. 28 states require religious institutions to provide birth control services with their insurance plans, 8 of these states do not exempt the churches, several of theis state plans were signed into law by Republican Governors. Do not see religious groups demonstrating about vasectomy which are covered by health insurance policies. As far as I know most vasectomy procedures are performed so males will not be able to impregnate females. Is this not birth control, O I forgot things are different when it comes to males.

voevoda 3 years, 3 months ago

Krauthammer is quite confused about Catholic theology on reproductive medicine. The Catholic Church's stance on contraception isn't related to the "sanctity of life" but rather to a distinctly Catholic understanding of the meaning of marriage. Contraceptive use is appropriate in some circumstances, even for Catholics. The Church does not have a stance on the appropriateness of contraceptive use for non-Catholics. Therefore, Church leaders are being disingenuous in claiming that the requirement that insurance cover contraception is a "violation" of their "religious freedom." Instead, they want to use insurance coverage as a tool to enforce conformity by Catholics to Catholic doctrine. Because of anti-discrimination laws, they can't have different coverage for Catholic and non-Catholic employees, and so they have to deny non-Catholics in a clumsy attempt to deny Catholics. Imagine if a Jehovah's Witness employer decided to refuse coverage for blood transfusions to non-Witness employees? Or an ultra-Orthodox Jewish employer decided to refuse coverage for organ transplants, even for non-Jews? The same so-called "religious freedom" principle applies--but very few people would defend it under those circumstances.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

That's because those conditions are life-threatening, I would think, and the procedures involved are expensive.

Birth control is relatively cheap, and easily available.

deec 3 years, 3 months ago

58% Percentage of American women taking birth control pills who use them, in part, for purposes other than pregnancy prevention, including reducing cramps or menstrual pain, regulating their periods, reducing acne and treating endometriosis. About 14% of pill users — or 1.5 million women — rely on the medication exclusively for non-contraceptive purposes. Among teens, the proportion is higher: girls aged 15 to 19 who use the pill are more likely to do so for non-contraceptive purposes (82%) than for birth control (67%), and 33% of teen pill users report using birth control pills solely for reasons other than contraception.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2011/11/16/many-women-use-the-pill-for-reasons-other-than-birth-control/#ixzz1moHh2IoR The church allows the use of the pill as long as it is primarily prescribed for a purpose other than birth control. If it happens to prevent pregnancy as a secondary effect...meh. The church is real good at splittin' hairs that way, on account of having a couple thousand years of practice.

voevoda 3 years, 3 months ago

Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, and veterans' benefits are all paid for by the labor of the people who later receive it. The government serves as a bank, holding and guaranteeing the funds, but the money came from the recipients' earnings. Student loans must be paid back with interest, so that's not money out of other people's pockets, either. So what's left? Food stamps? Who can begrudge fellow citizens food when they are so poor that they can't afford to buy it? Farm subsidies? In a farm state like Kansas, maybe we should be glad that the government stabilizes the rural economy.

jafs 3 years, 3 months ago

Actually, most people will take a lot more from SS and Medicare than they've ever paid in to those systems.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

How much is the sick U.S. health care system costing you? http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

By Joel A. Harrison

Paying through the Taxman

The U.S. health insurance system is typically characterized as a largely private-sector system, so it may come as a surprise that more than 60% of the $2 trillion annual U.S. health care bill is paid through taxes, according to a 2002 analysis published in Health Affairs by Harvard Medical School associate professors Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein.

Tax dollars pay for Medicare and Medicaid, for the Veterans Administration and the Indian Health Service. Tax dollars pay for health coverage for federal, state, and municipal government employees and their families, as well as for many employees of private companies working on government contracts.

Moreover, tax dollars also pay for critical elements of the health care system apart from direct care—Medicare funds much of the expensive equipment hospitals use, for instance, along with all medical residencies.

All told, then, tax dollars already pay for at least $1.2 trillion in annual U.S. health care expenses. Since federal, state, and local governments collected approximately $3.5 trillion in taxes of all kinds—income, sales, property, corporate—in 2006, that means that more than one third of the aggregate tax revenues collected in the United States that year went to pay for health care.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 3 months ago

Under IMPROVED Medicare Single Payer Insurance that $1.2 trillion health care tax dollars would provide medical insurance for all in America instead of only 60% of Americans.

All of us are getting duped by the Medical Insurance Industry.

So when that ad comes on saying Obamcare is killing jobs that is a lie pure and simple. That is a perfect example of how reckless the medical insurance industry is with YOUR healthcare dollars. Those commercials cost millions.

Corp america has been bitching about the cost of medical insurance for years. Now the jobs are in China and elsewhere.

JackMcKee 3 years, 3 months ago

What do you thin insurance companies would rather pay for, birth control pills or pregnancies? Covering birth control saves them money.

JackMcKee 3 years, 3 months ago

What do you think insurance companies would rather pay for, birth control pills or pregnancies? Covering birth control saves them money.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 3 months ago

From a friend: "Let me get this straight. For most Republicans/libertarians, setting up a system of universal health care is 'coercive use of government power' but forcing a woman to stick a wand up her vagina for a medically unnecessary reason before getting a medical procedure is not. It couldn't be clearer that women aren't people in their world."

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 3 months ago

And by the way, Krautie. It's not "Obamacare". It's the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Sheesh.

tomatogrower 3 years, 3 months ago

Well, if the GOP would make a case not based in lies, maybe I would listen. Death panels? Sales tax when you sell your home? The lies make me stop listening to them.

jayhawklawrence 3 years, 3 months ago

"GOP must make the case against Obamacare"

This is kind of a strange title when you think about it.

I guess what Krauthammer is admitting is that people are not buying the same BS from the GOP anymore and they need to come up with some fresh material.

I would agree with that.

The GOP leaders don't seem to have any staying power either. They seem to fizzle after about 2-3 weeks.

On the state level, the GOP Governors are starting to look like thugs and bullies and I have to believe their ship is sinking.

gccs14r 3 years, 3 months ago

Obama should have just told HHS to change the rules of eligibility for Medicare to all Citizens and Permanent Residents and called it a day. Congress not required. No debate, no compromise, no BS. He could have done that the day after he named his HHS Secretary and we'd now be three years into Universal Health Care and everyone would be wondering why we didn't do it decades ago.

cfdxprt 3 years, 3 months ago

Are you dense. I try to avoid commenting at all. Yes, everyone paid in, there's a darn deficit, there is no lockbox, there's nothing. Forget it, it's gone. Gov't is good at spending your money, not so good at keeping it for you, they counted on a Ponzi scheme.

Kirk Larson 3 years, 3 months ago

The insurance companies will go along because the simple fact is family planning saves money. When people plan their children they take steps to see that they are healthy. When pregnancies are unplanned they more often result in birth defects due to mothers drinking, drug and caffeine use, and poor nutrition when they don't know they are pregnant. These births are far more expensive to deal with than healthy, planned pregnancies.

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