Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Senate Health Care Debate Gets Good News/Bad News from the CBO

"In the greatest country on Earth, no American should die simply because they don't have health insurance. We have a historic opportunity to enact meaningful health care reform that will work to stabilize the economy, provide quality for millions of Americans," stated Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on the Senate floor Monday (http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/senate-debate-begins-with-baitsmanship/). While one is hard pressed to locate a single America that does not feel reform is needed to control escalating insurance premiums and cost of health care. The trouble is that Congress is off the mark with either bill being discussed. The central tenet of the House bill is a public option while the Senate version has one with an opt-out clause. For the majority of the year thus far, Congress members have touted their take and pimped their vote all under the guise of health care reform.

I still, as of this post, not heard one signal argument that unequivocally demonstrates how adding only one option to the pool of options for health care is going to drive down costs and premiums so all can afford health care. In order for reform to have the desired affects – affordable choices and lower costs – Congress needs to scrap the public option and replace it with legislation that will open state borders for the purchase of health care insurance and remove the anti-trust exemption that health insurance companies currently enjoy. Open up competition will lead to lower premiums. The Congressional Budget Office(CBO) estimates that in the best-case scenario that premiums would go down for most Americans by 2016 due to government subsidies while a worst-case scenario results in a little more than 10 percent of policyholders will experience a decrease even after the subsidies. In fact the CBO estimates that, under the worst-case scenario, the majority of Americans will see no effect or an increase up to 13 percent. The assessment can be seen at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/107xx/doc10781/11-30-Premiums.pdf.

Again, why are we allowing Congress to pass a bill that does not achieve the goals in all scenarios? Why not allow market forces to work through increase competition? Some may argue that free market forces are not enough. To that I agree slightly. To assist free market forces the government will need to repeal the anti-trust exemption. Let's demand true reform from Congress. If the CBO is correct and the best-case scenario does take place, we will be looking at higher taxes in order to fund government rule health care. It is the greatest Ponzi scheme every done if we allow our Congress to pass "reform" in its present state. Neither bill will start for at least three years after passage. In the meantime our "reform" does nothing but collect taxes; taxes that will have to be raised to cover the costs.

That being said, it is time for Congress to pass true reform that takes effect immediately and does not raise our taxes. As Jonathan Gruber, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, states" This is not delivering huge premiums savings to the insured. But the flip side is that here's a bill that reduces the deficit, covers 30 million people and has the promise of lowering premiums in the long run" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/30/AR2009113004391_2.html?hpid=topnews). I don't know about the rest of you but Government said that Social Security was going to be there for me when I retire and we all know that it will be insolvent in the near future. If the bill does nothing but establish more government in our lives then why are we sitting idly by and allow Congress to pass "reform" that reforms nothing and will raise our taxes?