Obama releases his $1 trillion health care package

Posted on February 22, 2010

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The White House today unveiled a $1 trillion, 10-year health care proposal ahead of a televised health care summit on Thursday. The cost is only an advertised estimate as the CBO will not have time to score the bill before the summit. The biggest addition is the creation of a federal insurance regulator, the Health Insurance Rate Authority, that would oversee and deny premium increases by private health insurance companies.

The proposal also lacks a public option but contains the individual mandate to buy health insurance with federal subsidies for those who can’t. The plan will be paid for by cuts to Medicare and by tax increases, and the sweetheart deals to individual states will supposedly be removed. In addition, Obama’s bill would allow tax dollars to pay for abortions – something that President Obama assured abortion opponents wouldn’t happen in his huge speech on health care last year. From that speech:

And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up — under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

Yet another promise with an expiration date, it seems.

The proposal is being revealed before a summit under the supposed auspices of outreach, but it’s hard to see that spirit of bipartisanship when the White House is simultaneously saying that if Republicans balk, Democrats will use reconciliation to ram through their version of health care reform, a package which will probably contain the public option. So the “outreach” and “inclusion” of Republicans is really only two options for the GOP:

  • Sign on to a costly and overreaching bill that was created exclusively by Democrats.
  • Oppose it and get a bill that’s even more to the left rammed down your throat, one that was also exclusively created by Democrats.

The Democrats’ attitude is that the Republicans should be grateful to be offered such a choice, one where the GOP gets nothing they want in either option. If this is the final attempt at bipartisanship and inclusion, it is an monumentally pathetic one and wholly insincere.

The release of the President’s plan won’t be the game-changer that anyone is hoping for. It is essentially the conference committee bill that mashes the Senate and House bills together. As Tom Maguire notes, the new regulatory power is only designed for consumer protection in the short run – the long-term goal remains the irreparable harm to the private insurance industry so that the government can step in and provide universal coverage.

It amounts to price controls that haven’t worked in the past and won’t do anything to curb demand or to directly lower the intrinsic costs of healthcare (medical testing, salaries of doctors and nurses, hospital overhead). The proposal seems to be yet another far-reaching overhaul that will cost us in national debt and quality of care, and it’s only a trap for Republicans so that the Democrats can ram through a public option anyway.

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Posted in: News, Politics