Nuggets of Wisdom

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Republicans have been accused of obstructing healthcare reform with scare tactics and misinformation. They have even been maligned as wanting millions of Americans to die without health insurance.

But according to the Health and Human Services Department, Republicans are right: the proposed bill will hurt healthcare, not help it.

Democrats trying to push President Barack Obama's health care overhaul plan through the Senate got a sober warning Friday that costs will keep going up and proposed Medicare savings may harm the program.

A new report from government economic analysts at the Health and Human Services Department found that the nation's $2.5 trillion annual health care tab won't shrink under the Democratic blueprint that senators are debating. Instead, it would grow somewhat more rapidly than if Congress does nothing.

More troubling was the report's assessment that the Democrats' plan to squeeze Medicare for $493 billion over 10 years in savings relies on specific policy changes that "may be unrealistic" and could lead to cuts in services. The Medicare savings are expected to cover about half the nearly $1 trillion, 10-year cost of expanding coverage to the uninsured.

In still more bad news, the report starkly warned that a new long-term care insurance plan included in the legislation could "face a significant risk of failure" because it would attract people in poor health, leading to higher and higher premiums, and eventually triggering an "insurance death spiral."

The one bright note: The bill would provide coverage to 93 percent of Americans, reducing the number of uninsured people by about 33 million, the report said.

So let me get this straight: under the healthcare reform bill, costs will increase, Medicare will be drained, and premiums will rise. But at least Americans will have health insurance!

That’s like saying: in your new house, the roof will leak, the foundation will sink, and the electricity and water will not work. But at least you will have a house!

Maybe uninsured Americans will finally have health insurance (After all, that was the Democrats’ goal), but it will be crappy—if not crappier—health insurance.

Republicans seized on the report as validation of their concerns that the overhaul bill is both unaffordable and unrealistic.

"This report confirms what we've long known — the Democrat plan will increase costs, raise premiums, and slash Medicare. That's not reform. This analysis speaks for itself. This bill is a sham," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.