Tuesday, October 06, 2009

HEALTHCARE LEGISLATION

It is hard to believe there were 550 amendments offered to the health care "reform" bill of Max Baucus. I think it shows a great lack of agreement on healthcare issues. However, the Senate Finance Committee says they considered them all.

The next step is for the Congressional Budget Office to "score" the bill's cost and estimate how many people it will cover. After that the Senate can vote on it.

The bill requires most Americans to have health insurance. There is a penalty for not having health insurance. An amendment was accepted that reduces the maximum penalty for a family to $800. The penalty will be phased in from 2014 to 2017. At least they did not require one of the family to agree to be killed.

The committee has also approved an amendment modifying the tax on high-cost insurance policies so that it only applies to policies with premiums more than $21,000. The threshold is $26,000 for health plans covering retirees or people in certain high-risk occupations.

All this coverage costs money,of course. Who pays? Well, taxpayers pay, of course. Those would be working people, many of whom are paying for their own health care coverage instead of buying cars in the cash for clunkers program and now also get to buy health insurance for said new car owners.

Old people will also pay (this administration clearly favors the young over the old). The bill reduces Medicare and Medicaid payments. This also impacts hospitals by $155 billion over 10 years. This is why hospitals are lobbying for many parts of the bill, by the way. It increases their revenues.

In addition, the bill imposes annual fees on insurers, drug companies and manufacturers of medical devices. Why? Because they can.

The American Hospital and Texas Hospital associations are part of the group lobbying for full coverage in order to increase their revenues. They are concerned that the legislation may not cover as many people as originally projected. The AHA reached an agreement with Senator Baucus and President Obama to support the legislation as long as it expanded coverage to 97 percent of the population. This is a revenue issue. The hospitals make a lot of money on Medicare and Medicaid that they need to offset the services for which they receive no payment. If Medicare and Medicaid are cut, the hospitals want expanded government coverage under the legislation to offset the loss and creat new revenue. If percentage of coverage is less, the AHA reckons it will not offset the $155 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Thus, your local hospitals will be lobbying for greater coverage. Greater coverage costs more money. More money means more taxes.

There is another bill in competitions with the one from Senate Finance. If the bill in Finance is approved by the committee, it must be "merged" with the competing legislation already passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

While all this money is being tossed around, or they are considering how much to toss around, please note that the government already does not have enough money to operate on. Congress has to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government going until the permanent financing bills are approved. This is somewhat like you filling out the papers for a new mortgage on a new home while realized you have to get a pay day loan to buy groceries for your family. Or, say, to get a loan to buy a new car to take advantage of a government gift when you cannot afford to get your old car fixes.
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