What’s Wrong With The Baucus Healthcare Plan?

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus unveiled his latest swing at healthcare legislation yesterday.  Let’s take a look at it.

First of all, according to Bloomberg:

In a bid to get Republican support, he’s offering a lower price tag compared with bills approved on party-line votes by the Senate health committee and three House panels, each of which would cost about $1 trillion over 10 years.

Well, that’s a nice goal and all, but his plan still costs $856 billion.  Which is 85.6% of a trillion.  And these estimates are invariably massively low (take Medicare as the closest analogy: it was estimated to cost $12 billion by 1990; it actually cost $107 billion by 1990 — a 791% increase over the projection).  Why on earth would the Democrats new plan now be better estimated than the Democrats old plan?

Thanks, Max, but I’ll keep shopping around, if you don’t mind.

Second, there’s this:

“Without support from a single Senate Republican…”

Now see, I remember this promise from the campaign:

In 2008, candidate Obama … assured us that we would transcend petty partisan bickering that has dominated Washington as long as anyone can remember. “In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people, Obama declared.Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.”

Didn’t resist that temptation too well, did you, Barry?  No, instead, the most liberal senator in the nation prior to his newfound “post-partisanship” lived up to predicted rather than advertised form.  He rammed through a massive $3.27 trillion partisan stimulus plan that only 2 out of 218 Republicans voted for (counting Arlen Specter as a Democrat).  He sold his porkulus on the lie that he would be able to keep unemployment under 8% if it passed.  In similar form, Obama rammed through his Omnibus bill filled with nearly 9,000 earmarks in blatant violation of his pledge.

He is the most aggressively partisan “post partisan” who ever lived.  And that is a fact.

Did the man who won the White House with 52.9% of the vote win the right to unilaterally fundamentally transform 16% of the entire US economy?  Seriously???

Are Republicans seriously supposed to support a system that was shoved down their throats against their wills?

Third, there’s this:

Baucus dropped a plan to set up a government insurance program — the so-called public option — to compete with private insurers, steering clear of one of the most divisive issues in the debate. Instead, he proposed giving $6 billion in seed money to nonprofit cooperatives that could compete with companies such as Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna Inc.

Imagine if you were selling widgets at your widget shop and a competitor moved in next door who got his funding from your tax dollars.  That would suck for you.  And, of course, as needed, you could count on your own government to undermine you by writing the laws in a way that benefited your competitor while punishing you, and you could count on selective enforcement of the regulations just to make sure you knew who was wanted and who wasn’t.

Besides being unAmerican, there are a few other things wrong with this plan.

A pro-liberal, pro-single-payer proponent argues the following:

But this is not “change.” Nonprofit organizations have always had an important role in the financing and delivery of health care services in the United States. Nonprofit health care organizations are part of the U.S. economy’s “third sector,” the other two sectors are government and for-profit businesses. In the early 1900s the first health care prepayment/insurance plan was founded as a nonprofit organization—Blue Cross—by a nonprofit hospital in Texas.  Today, nearly 50 percent of people with private health insurance coverage are enrolled in nonprofit health plans.

Unfortunately, the strong and persistent presence of private nonprofit health insurance companies has not prevented any of the structural problems leading to our current health care crisis.

In other words, at the heart of the Baucus plan is the belief that you are simply too ignorant and too damn stupid to know the basic facts.  Non-profits and co-ops are nothing new.  And in fact, according to the Democrats who have repeatedly demonized health insurers, they represent HALF the damn problem.

This is rather like the Democrats whining about the lack of competition when there are actually 1,300 health insurers in the country and the only reason they can’t all compete for your business is because Democrats have prevented them from being able to compete for your business.

Dr. Mary Bufwack writes an article that concludes:

So history tells us that starting up co-ops would be a great challenge, and small state co-ops are likely to fail.  Should they be successful, there is little evidence that they act in ways that are different than private insurance companies.

So this is a bogus boondoggle bound to fail.  And we can know that before it starts, given the government’s ability to screw up nearly everything it touches.

For what it’s worth, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were essentially “co-ops” as well.  And they have been catastrophic boondoggles.

Then there are the individual mandates requiring every American to have a health insurance plan or pay up to $3,800 in penalties.  I wonder how many of the young people who voted for Obama are going to support having to buy health insurance or pay fines?  It’s always easier to require things when it’s someone ELSE’S money that’s getting spent.

When Obama promised you fifty thousand times that no one making less than $250,000 a year would see their taxes go up by one penny, he didn’t point out that the fine print is a bitch.

And while there’s no official employer mandate, businesses with over 50 workers will be hit with a $400 per worker tax penalty if they don’t provide – and keep providing – health insurance.  Sounds like a pretty solid reason for a lot of small business owners who are are already struggling to make ends meet to downsize.  You DO know what they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions, right?

If you lose your job because of the cost of the health care mandates, and you voted for Obama, just remember that you voted for “change.”

The bill is considerably scaled down from the worst of the infamous House Bill H.R. 3200.  But it’s still bad.  Other than the fact that it is less heinous than previous Democrat-dominated bills, it is still heinous.  There is no reason for Republicans to support it beyond the reasoning of “having one eye gouged out of my head is better than having both eyes gouged out.”

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2 Responses to “What’s Wrong With The Baucus Healthcare Plan?”

  1. Gregory A. Layne Says:

    I apologize for this being is an off-topic question, but I’m fairly new to WordPress and can’t seem to figure out if/how I could pose it to you directly.

    Anyways, since you’re probably the most . . . um . . . outspoken libertarian I “know,” I’d be curious what you make of the subject addressed in this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/us/politics/18baker.html. Specifically: when does (can?) “more” government directly promote individual democratic rights?

  2. Michael Eden Says:

    In a weird way, your question re: the NY Times article is relevant to this article, given that much of the Baucus plan (and in fact all of the healthcare “reforms”) fixes what isn’t broken while ignoring what IS broken in health care. I believe the NY Times “fix” of the House does much the same.

    I gather that the source of this is a lawsuit filed by some Republican demanding that “equal representation” is being violated, but the source of the bad idea is irrelevant. I think his “fix” ends up violating the spirit of the Constitution more than it restores the letter of it.

    Basically, the founding fathers were well aware that some states got more “Reps per people” than others – just look at the Senate. Every state has two, regardless of whether it is massive California or tiny Wyoming. California gets 53 representatives and states like Wyoming get ONE simply because every state has to get at least one by the Constitution; I don’t see how California is getting “screwed” by that arrangement. And, yes, the House should be more “representative” than the Senate, but the trivial fact that there isn’t a pure 100% representative ratio doesn’t mean that the spirit of representation is being violated.

    To take this to the ad absurdum level, maybe I should sue if I find that ANY of the other 434 representatives’ districts in the country has so much as ONE fewer in population than MY district, because I’m getting less representation?

    The founding fathers wanted to balance the power of the larger states with the fact that the smaller states had to have sufficient representation to simply avoid being completely overlooked. They came up with a pretty good way of doing that.

    Couple reasons why the House shouldn’t grow larger: 1) there comes a point where any organization gets too big, and the size itself undermines its ability to perform its function. And 2) the last thing on earth we need is more stupid politicians, who would come up with more stupid laws to justify themselves.

    The argument is that we should have more representatives to make government more responsible to the people. But if we restored the 1800s ratio, we would have 7500 representatives. How could we have meaningful/fair debate with such numbers?

    There’s nothing sacrosanct about the “435” figure. We could have more. But is throwing more politicians at our problems really the answer? Would adding more politicians reduce the special interest fraud, or would there just be more politicians sucking at the teats of special interests? On my view, very likely the latter.

    The things I believe we should “fix” with the House includes first and foremost the shockingly partisan redistricting, which routinely creates gerrymandered districts that benefit politicians and parties at the expense of the people. Anyone making a claim that we need to do anything with the House should start there. I am also a firm believer in term limits – and its frankly too bad that we even have to talk about imposing it, rather than politicians voluntarily getting their talons out of political power. Multiple terms and entrenched power is the ONE thing that makes it a shame we live longer than we did in the 18th century.

    Ultimately, it is those two things – gerrymandered distracting and permanent seats for way too many politicians – that have allowed a great deal of the “crap” that decent people most despise about politics and frankly about BOTH parties. When you look at how people feel about politicians, the answer never seems to be, “If only we just had MORE politicians, everything would be better.”

    Once we overcome these obvious abuses, I would be willing to entertain increasing the size of the House to reflect population growth.

    Other than submitting comments, there is no way to comment or post directly save giving someone complete administrative privileges in WordPress.

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