The Senate Health Bill: Ordinary Americans Have Been Warned

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As the House of Representatives prepares for a final round of debate on the health care legislation, ordinary Americans must grasp the huge impact on the future of the country. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pulling out all the stops to get the 216 votes needed to pass the Senate health bill, H.R. 3590 (PDF). The Speaker is also promising to fix the Senate bill’s many objectionable components later through the budget reconciliation process, parliamentary rules normally used to reconcile tax and spending provisions with the annual congressional budget resolution.

Meanwhile, the House leadership is also reportedly pursuing the controversial “Slaughter Rule,” in which the entire Senate bill be “deemed” to have passed the House without an “up or down” vote on the Senate language.

Regardless of whatever procedural shenanigans the House leadership tries to play, the end result would be enactment of the Senate health bill as the law of the land. That’s the end game. Period.

In a recent analysis, Heritage’s Kathryn Nix and Bob Moffit examine the consequences of policies embodied in the Senate bill. It would have enormous consequences for jobs, the economy, and the health care of every American. For example, it:

*”Bends the Cost Curve Up:” The Senate bill is projected to further increase the cost of health care. According to the latest report (PDF) by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the bill would increase health care spending by $210 billion over the next ten years.Provisions in the bill such as federal regulations on insurers and taxes on medical devices and prescription drugs distort health care markets by creating the wrong economic incentives.

*”Increases the Federal Deficit”: The Senate leadership used accounting tricks and budgetary gimmicks to claim that the Senate Bill is “deficit neutral.” However, when government outlays and revenue collection are considered together in a 10-year period, Medicare cuts are not double-counted, and the “doc fix” is included, the bill will substantially increase the deficit, with an overall cost of approximately $2.3 trillion.

*”Expands Medicaid:” The bill calls for an expansion of Medicaid, an already-inefficient entitlement program. Heritage analysis has shown that Medicaid expansion is costly, and yet failures to meet the health care needs of its beneficiaries.

*”Imposes additional costs on insurance”. New federal regulations will include a minimum medical loss ratio, an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans, and federally defined benefits. These provisions would increase premiums

*”Invites Insurance Market Instability:” The combination of an individual mandate and the requirement of insurance companies to guarantee coverage regardless of preexisting conditions invites instability in health insurance markets. Younger and healthier Americans are likely to pay the cheaper mandate penalty rather than purchase a more costly health plan. The end result would be a “death spiral” with only sick people comprising the risk pool

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