OpenMarket.org, November 21, 2009
The healthcare bill is on the verge of passing the Senate, despite the fact that it has received a failing grade from healthcare experts like the Dean of Harvard Medical School, and the fact that it will increase taxes, deficits, and medical costs, while reducing lifesaving medical innovations.
In a 60-to-39 vote, Senators voted to quash a Republican filibuster, moving it closer to a final vote where it will need the votes of only 51 of the Senate’s 60 Democrats to pass it (60 votes are needed to stop a filibuster). The vote was along strict party lines: all 60 Democrats voted to advance the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lined up the 60 votes through payoffs to wavering Senators and left-wing unions (some mismanaged unions will receive a taxpayer bailout of their health plans, to the tune of up to $10 billion).
The Dean of Harvard Medical School recently gave Obama’s healthcare plan a “failing grade,” saying it will harm America’s health and finances, and hamper medical innovations needed to save patients’ lives. Dean Jeffrey S. Flier wrote in the Wall Street Journal that along “with dozens of health-care leaders and economists,” he had concluded that the bill “will markedly accelerate national health-care spending,” would harm care “by overregulating the health-care system in the service of special interests such as insurance companies,” and would reduce “our capacity to innovate and develop new therapies” that save lives.
Other experts agree. The health-care “reform” bill backed by President Obama “would reduce senior care,” increase “medical costs,” and “could jeopardize access to care for millions,” report health care experts at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It is one of the most expensive bills of all time. The House recently passed a similar bill by the razor-thin margin of 220 to 215.
The bill will raise taxes on the middle class. It will increase taxes on individuals, employers, and hospitals, impose new taxes on medical devices and cosmetic surgery, and levy a 40% tax on health-care plans above $8,500. It will increase the deficit, and cost taxpayers at least twice as much as predicted.
It contains special-interest pork, such as payoffs for trial lawyers, and racial preferences that drew criticism from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The bill restricts national competition in health insurance, which is permitted in countries with cheaper health care.
ObamaCare spends money on frills like “cultural competency,” while cutting spending on crucial things like anesthesia.
“ObamaCare is all about rationing,” and tax increases, says one of Obama’s own economic advisers, Martin Feldstein.
Fact-checkers say Obama is lying about health care. Obama often contradicts himself. In the very same speech, Obama claimed that Medicare is “unsustainable” and “running out of money,” then contradicted himself by claiming that “Medicare is a government program that works really well,” making it a model for national health care.
CNN noted that Obama’s plan would take away “5 freedoms,” contradicting Obama’s claim that the bill will leave you free to choose your doctor and keep your healthcare plan without government interference.
The bill does nothing to curb massive waste and fraud in existing government healthcare systems like Medicare and Medicaid, even though it proposes to make massive cuts in Medicare (cuts so painful that most of them will never happen: year after year, Congress waives “the annual cut in fees paid by Medicare to physicians” mandated by an earlier law. The cuts were added to the bill only to reduce its apparent cost. As economist and former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin notes in the Wall Street Journal, the promised cuts to pay for ObamaCare will not happen: “Senate Democrats chose to ignore this reality and rely on the promise of a cut to make their bill add up. Taking note of this fact . . . destroys any pretense of budget balance.”)
Backers of ObamaCare have refused to cut medical costs through malpractice reform, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying that such reforms would save “only” $54 billion. The Pacific Research Institute estimates that just one type of cost that could be reduced through malpractice-lawsuit reform — defensive medicine — costs around $200 billion annually (which is almost as much as France spends annually on healthcare for all of its citizens; like most countries, France has no punitive damages, and fewer lawsuits against doctors).
One reform opposed by the Democrats — setting up specialized health tribunals to hear malpractice cases — would be particularly helpful. Replacing uninformed juries with specialized health courts would provide more consistent rulings from case to case, eliminate meritless cases, reduce defensive medicine, and more speedily compensate injured people who truly are victimized by doctors’ carelessness. Such tribunals already exist in countries like “Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and New Zealand.”
Martin Feldstein, one of Obama’s own advisors, has said that Obama’s health-care plan would explode the federal budget deficit and lead to “crippling deficits,” as well as “higher taxes, debt payments, and interest rates” that would cut America’s standard of living. Feldstein also noted that Obama’s health-care plan would harm people with insurance, and predicted that it would lead to massive tax increases. Other analysts have predicted that it will drive up medical costs and inflation.
Obama is relying on $2 trillion in imaginary savings to pay for his health care plan. He is also relying on tax increases, which breaks Obama’s campaign promise not to raise taxes on the middle class. Obama’s support for the bill, which will massively increase the deficit in the future, also breaks his promise not to sign a healthcare bill that adds even “one dime” to the deficit, now or in the future.