The president met with fellow Democrats at the White House on Tuesday afternoon and reiterated his position that failing to pass any reform was not acceptable. He campaigned on this promise in 2008 and has stuck to his commitment in his many speeches to the nation. In his remarks on Tuesday, he stated, The final bill wont include everything that everybody wants. But we simply cannot allow differences over individual elements of this plan to prevent us from meeting our responsibility to solve a long-standing and urgent problem for the American people.
Even without the public option (which President Obama has supported) and the Medicare buy-in proposal, the final bill will still take this country down a path where government plays a much greater role in our health-care system. And ultimately, I believe that as costs continue to increase under this new plan, and the number of uninsured does not fall, government will decide that the only viable solution to these problems is for all Americans to be covered under a single-payer, Medicare for all system. This was the long-term goal of the late Ted Kennedy, and it is the ultimate goal of President Obama.
As it stands now, there will be stricter controls on insurance companies, the possibility of the federal Office of Personnel Management negotiating rates with insurance companies that would become non-profit entities within exchanges, individual and employer mandates with fines for non-compliance, increased subsidies for Americans with incomes up to four times the poverty level (or $88,000 for a family of four), more people on Medicaid (those at 133 percent of the federal poverty level), and precipitously rising health-care costs. Under this reform plan, it is most likely that the U.S. will not spend 16 percent of GDP on health care but an even higher percentage. This contradicts the presidents goal of reducing health-care costs.
The plan being proposed will not be deficit neutral. The cost will not be $848 billion or $1 trillion over ten years, as the CBO has estimated. It will more likely cost $2.5 trillion, as Sen. Max Baucus pointed out a few weeks ago. Taxes will rise not just for wealthy Americans, but for all of us deficits will grow, premiums will increase, care will be rationed, and, as in Canada, long waiting lists for care will develop. The elderly will be the first to suffer from lack of access to care.
The Hippocratic Oath says, First do no harm. The House and Senate bills on the table will not achieve the goal of accessible, affordable, quality health care for all. It is noteworthy that a Rasmussen poll released on December 14 found that 56 percent of Americans now oppose the health-care plan being advocated by the president and congressional Democrats. This is the highest level of opposition in six months of polling. And 46 percent now strongly oppose the plan, compared with only 19 percent who strongly favor it. These statistics should convince the President and Democratic members of Congress that such an overhaul is not supported by the American people.
The Senate bill must be stalled and rejected now. In the New Year, a bipartisan plan should be developed that focuses on patient-centered solutions. These include changing the federal tax code so that individuals can get insurance with pre-tax dollars, just like those who have employer-based insurance; reducing state mandates; letting people purchase health insurance across state lines; and implementing medical-malpractice reform. Only then will we have true reform with lower health-care costs for all and many more Americans insured. Universal choice will lead to universal coverage for all.