Sunday, March 14, 2010

The "Health Care" Bill

I just downloaded the final bill as it is intended to go to reconciliation. With no comment on procedure, this bill should fail. On its own lack of merit.

Just go to page 2098 and look what got added. Student loans. An entirely different piece of legislation shoehorned into one of the most controversial and important pieces of legislation. After the fact. As an add on. At the very end. In the hopes that we don't notice.

The content of the actual bill is bad enough. A 2.5 percent tax on individuals for not having health insurance (section 401). A commission that is explicitly shielded from the rules of federal employment (page 33). Tax after tax on businesses. Taxes on those earning over certain amounts.

What makes this even more pathetic is the simple and plain fact that a lot of it violates the Tenth Amendment. Health insurers are state regulated and typically not engaged in interstate commerce. This leaves the regulation to the states. This bill usurps that over and over.

I can see why this happened behind closed doors. The raw stench coming from the room probably presented a bio-hazard.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am one of those with a "pre-existing" conditions ('broken,' as Kristen at the local Starbucks so adorably puts it). I looked forward to the health insurers having that taken away as a method to deny me coverage. But at this cost? With this many restrictions, taxes, fees and entanglements? No.

I obviously have to keep reading, but just on a first pass skimming, I am disappointed and angry. I cannot imagine how bad it will get as I continue to read.

This is a no-brainer, Congress. Reject this thing now. Strip out the student loans. Eliminate the personal mandate, enact tort reform, insure all children in the US Medicare style and end the pre-existing condition thing. That is all we needed. All we really wanted.

Sure, some wanted the public option. I was not one of them. I fear the public option. And not for the reasons most have stated. It is simple. The public option will eventually become the only option.

This happened in Florida with property insurance after Hurricane Andrew. The property insurers ran or raised rates blindingly. The legislature created Citizens Insurance as an insurer of last resort. You had to have been rejected by all the private companies and it cost more. Now, just 15 years later, the Florida Legislature in response to special interest after special interest, removed the rejection requirement and lowered the premiums to below market, making Citizens the first choice. And you know what? One solid storm and Florida is broke.

Imagine any Congress not extending the public option to favored groups - both Democrat and Republican. If you have trouble with that, well, so did I.

Here is what we really wanted and needed:

1) Cover every child in the US up to age 18. Period.
2) Tort reform. 2 words: "Loser Pays."
3) Pre-existing conditions - no longer a disqualifying factor for overall coverage.
4) Fairness in premiums and payments.
5) Repeal the anti-trust exemption.
6) Doctors making health decisions - not nameless insurance company employees.

That's it. Start there. With what we really want and need. Not some pipe dream of some frustrated Congressman like Waxman who sees his chance to push his long stagnant wealth sharing agenda. Not with a litany of tax cuts and promises to special interests like Cantor's one-sided proposal.

I am going to keep reading and reviewing. By the time I get through all of it, everyone will have chimed in and rightfully so. I look forward to the robust debate.

And, as I said last post - bring this turkey to the floor for a vote. No more counting, cajoling or arm twisting. Either vote it of shelve it. But enough with the grand theater.

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