I’ve been waiting for more than a year for the President to tell us what he wants in a health reform plan. And with waiting comes hope. After all, the President didn’t sound like Reid or Pelosi when he campaigned for office. He sounded centrist, bipartisan and reasonable. Plus, there are reasonable people advising him. Orszag and Summers, just to name two. Still, along the way the questions have been nagging. For example, with respect to the House and Senate bills, I have been wondering:
- Will he junk the idea of paying for half the cost of health reform with $500 billion in benefit cuts for the elderly?
- Will he jettison the arbitrary and unfair tax subsidies that give $30,000-a-year families less than $2,000 of tax relief for insurance at work, but more than $13,000 if they enter the new health insurance exchange — a tax system that will almost certainly lead to major restructuring of American industry?
- Will he give up on the attempt to force employers of low-wage workers to spend more than $14,000 (half their salary!) on health insurance — an effort that will almost certainly lead to massive layoffs?
- Will he abandon the proposal he accused Hillary Clinton of backing in the presidential election campaign: “You want to force people to buy something they cannot afford, and then when they don’t buy it, you are going to tax them.”
- Will he endorse the principle that all taxpayers at the same income level should receive the same tax relief for health insurance, regardless of whether they belong to a labor union or that all seniors in Medicare Advantage should be treated the same, regardless of where they live?
- Will he reject the billions of dollars in hidden taxes on everything from wheelchairs to medicine cabinets?
- Will he remove the economic incentives employers will have to drop health insurance coverage that millions of workers now have?
- Will he get rid of the incentive families will have to give up their private health insurance and enroll in Medicaid (rationing-by-waiting) plans?
- Will he resist the one-premium-for-all philosophy that will unfairly penalize the young and the healthy — people who most need encouragement to obtain insurance?
- Will he reject the idea of health insurance exchanges with artificial prices that will encourage health plans to overprovide to the healthy and underprovide to the sick?
- Will he forego the CLASS Act ponzi scheme parading as long-term care insurance?
Finally, at 10:00 am this morning, the wait was over.
Waiting for You
And the answers to my questions are…..no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…..and…..no!
Okay, time out. Take a deep breath. Run around the block. Do some sit ups. Then come back for…..more depressing news:
- The White House plans to impose the Medicare payroll tax (2.9%) on capital income! (Interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, and rent which is not otherwise “passive.”)
- The White House wants a national health insurance price-fixing body to approve rate hikes! (Despite evidence that state price-fixing leads to more uninsured, not less.)
- And, the White House wants to criminalize virtually every aspect of Medicare! (Even thinking about how to game the system could make you suspect.)
Full summary of the President’s plan here.
Here are ten changes for the President to consider if he wants broad bipartisan support for his health reform plan.