Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kenneth The Governor Has A Health Care Plan

When a GOP lightweight wants to look all policy wonky, they call up Roger Murdoch's boys and get a Serious Op-Ed Piece in the Wall Street Journal. Today's contestant is Bobby "Kenneth the Governor" Jindal, trying to climb back into the 2012 ring by fronting the GOP health care plan.
First, Mr. Obama doggedly promises that if you like your (private) health-care coverage now, you can keep it. That promise is hollow, because the Democrats’ reforms are designed to push an ever-increasing number of Americans into a government-run health-care plan.

If a so-called public option is part of health-care reform, the Lewin Group study estimates over 100 million Americans may leave private plans for government-run health care. Any government plan will benefit from taxpayer subsidies and be able to operate at a financial loss—competing unfairly in the marketplace until private plans are driven out of business. The government plan will become so large that it will set, rather than negotiate, prices. This will inevitably lead to monopoly, with a resulting threat to the quality of our health care.

Second, the Democrats disingenuously argue their reforms will not diminish the quality of our health care even as government involvement in the delivery of that health care increases massively. For all of us who have seen the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response to hurricanes, this contention is laughable on its face. When government bureaucracies drive the delivery of services—in this case inserting themselves between health-care providers and their patients—quality degradation will surely come. House Democrats seem willing to accept that problem to achieve their philosophical aim—the long-term removal of for-profit entities from the health-care landscape.

Third, Mr. Obama’s rhetoric paints a picture of a massive new benefit that will actually cost average Americans less than what they pay today. The Democrats want middle-class taxpayers to believe they won’t feel the pinch of this initiative, even as their employers are assessed massive new taxes. They might as well try to argue that up is down. The analysis of the Democrats’ proposal by the Congressional Budget Office shows that it will not reduce government spending on health care, and that it will substantially increase the federal deficit—and this despite all the tax increases.

Which is funny because on Lie the First there, both the House Dem plans will hold the public option to the same financial standards of the private plans rather than having them "operating at a loss", meaning that the private and public plans can compete. Also, poor Bobby there is worried about a possible monopoly driving up costs and lowering quality when we have an oligopoly now, and from a technical standpoint, the tens of millions of employer-based health care plans ARE functional monopolies now: you either take the company plan from one health care provider, or you can self-insure for 2x or 3x or more the cost. For many Americans, there is no real choice.

On number 2, I see Bobby still hasn't learned the lesson of the difference between "There are things the government can and should provide" and "Let's underfund these services, they waste money." You get no cred talking about FEMA as a Republican, because your state didn't exactly pick up the slack there after Katrina, Bob.

Third, from what I'm seeing, the taxes are not on the employers themselves but those who can certainly afford it (thanks to Bush's tax cuts) and the CBO estimates admittedly take into account some costs, but not all the details of the plan have been worked out yet. Even the President has admitted those details need additional work to lower costs.

Jindal goes on to describe the GOP plan's talking points, which still amount to "Let's generate 50 million new customers for the insurance companies to profit off of." After all, tax credits and "use it by the end of the year or lose it" medical savings accounts will help those who don't earn enough to even have to pay income taxes in the first place, right? And "high-risk pools" won't be prohibitively expensive for those with pre-existing conditions with the pool being full of people with pre-existing conditions and "catastrophic insurance" won't bankrupt anyone should they have a $20,000 hospital stay deductible.

The GOP plans are a subsidy to the insurance companies, plain and simple. You'll be offered coverage. You just won't be able to afford it, or you'll be able to afford it (and be forced to buy it) but you can't afford to get sick. Hey, even worse, you won't be able to afford the insurance and will still have to buy it, thanks to neato tax credits. Republicans give you a tax credit, you turn around and give all that tax credit to your insurance company every year. Great plan, huh?

For the insurance companies, who will have even less motivation to compete, sure. For you...well remember the point of government in a Republican-run world: to enrich the private sector.

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