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Kill the Bill

December 22, 2009

Nobody really knows what’s in the bill because Harry Reid kept it in his drawer for as long as he could, votes were bought for cloture, the cost projections are based on unrealistic assumptions (but never mind, it’s only a sixth of the US economy we’re talking about), opinion polls show a majority of Americans in opposition to the bill, not a single Republican is in favour of it, Democrats in Congress do their best to get this monstrosity passed before Christmas because they know that it is ugly and unwelcome and that serious deliberation over it would end in a death sentence for this health care bill. All of this should already tell you that lawmakers should shred the current proposal and go back to the drawing board to come up with a better version next year.

But if you are not yet convinced, then take a look at what the bill would do when turned into law. There will be an individual mandate, meaning that every American will be forced to buy health insurance. For everybody who is currently not insured this means a discrete increase in their monthly expenses by hundreds of dollars for an insurance they may not need over the next decades. But don’t worry, you say, If that is too much for you you will get subsidies. Merveillieux!, the French Cowboy says, So you turned from independently taking your own risks to being on the government’s dole for an insurance you would much rather exchange for something that would help you to be productive so that one day you can pay for your health insurance without other people’s money. But no, the government has decided that you need that health insurance more than anything else and if you refuse to take it you make yourself an outlaw. It is one thing to get a helping hand from the government, it’s another to be forced to take it.

Then there’s the quasi takeover of the health care market by Washington. It may not be an outright single payer system (ie one in which the government is the only insurance provider) but the effects of the bill will approach that situation. The federal government will have its tentacles in every institution of the sector: insurance companies, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, private households, etc. Prices and conditions for therapies will be determined by bureaucrats and innovation will be stifled. And from day one the goal will be to minimise costs. Why so? Because you can’t finance coverage for all of America with money taken from the supposedly rich.

It is foolishly myopic to expect that people won’t react to incentives in the new health care system. The planned subsidies for people who don’t receive insurance via their employer are so large that this so-called “exchange” programme will attract everybody. But when everybody’s on the receiving end of subsidies then there’s nobody left on the contributing end. Simply put: there is no way to cover everyone who’s currently uninsured without an increase in total medical costs. So in order to minimise the resulting deficit there will be an effort to raise money via the tax or the insurance system on the one hand, and to reduce costs via a reduction of quantity and quality of care on the other hand.

Obama liked to argue that it’s not good that the status quo has the uninsured run into the ER and the insured take up their tab. Of course, with ObamaCare that won’t be any different except that the uninsured will be insured with other people’s money and there will be more to pay for than a visit to the ER when things really go south. Since it will be covered why not also a trip to the dermatologist when the skin’s a little itchy, or a visit to the GI when the heartburn seems a little more frequent than usually, or, yeah, why not also for an abortion, since Nelson’s concern for unborn babies is relative to cash for Nebraska. The costs will inevitably explode and it will be the job of Washington bureaucrats, aka Death Panel, to rein them in.

Oh, and that Death Panel, it will be permanent:

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pointed out some rather astounding language in the Senate health care bill during floor remarks tonight. First, he noted that there are a number of changes to Senate rules in the bill–and it’s supposed to take a 2/3 vote to change the rules. And then he pointed out that the Reid bill declares on page 1020 that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board cannot be repealed by future Congresses:

there’s one provision that i found particularly troubling and it’s under section c, titled “limitations on changes to this subsection.”

and i quote — “it shall not be in order in the senate or the house of representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment, or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection.”

[…]

According to page 1001 of the Reid bill, the purpose of the Independent Medical Advisory Board is to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.”

Evidently, Democrats in Congress don’t only believe that it’s totally OK to ram a messy, hardly reviewed and unpopular bill into law that will turn about 20% of the American economy into a Washington-run socialist state-within-a-state on a purely partisan line, they also think that their decision-making is superior not only to the current generation but also to all future generations who therefore must not be able to change the corner stone of ObamaCare. Of course they mustn’t, because ObamaCare is what Democrats consider as the guarantee for the party of Big Government to stay in power through all eternity!

The bill is horrific. It will change not only a huge chunk of the economy, it will introduce government bureaucrats to meddle with the most important and personal decisions in human life and it will, as Mark Steyn argues so eloquently, change the relationship between the citizens and the government fundamentally. Every future election will be about government-run health care and the party that promises the biggest goodies in that regard will win. Technically there is little hope that this bill will not get passed. But the bill is so bad and so big that the French Cowboy clings to the hope that it may get killed after all.

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