Wall Street Journal: House Health Care Plan “Worst Bill Ever”

Wall Street Journal: House Health Care Plan “Worst Bill Ever”

November 03, 2009
Originally published in Opposing Views

The Wall Street Journal calls the House version of President Obama’s health care plan “the worst bill ever,” noting that it will lead to “epic new spending and taxes, pricier insurance, rationed care, dishonest accounting,” and other problems.

At the Atlantic, Megan McArdle, who voted for Obama, explains how ObamaCare will cost much more than promised — at least $150 billion more. That’s true even if promised cuts to Medicare included in ObamaCare actually take place — but as McArdle notes, even the head of the Congressional Budget Office “does not think the cuts will take place” (which didn’t stop him from pretending those cuts would occur in giving ObamaCare its original $900 billion price tag).

ObamaCare is based on deceptive accounting that makes Enron look good. As The Wall Street Journal notes:

“The House disguises hundreds of billions of dollars in additional costs with budget gimmicks. It ‘pays for’ about six years of program with a decade of revenue, with the heaviest costs concentrated in the second five years. The House also pretends Medicare payments to doctors will be cut by 21.5% next year and deeper after that, ’saving’ about $250 billion. ObamaCare will be lucky to cost under $2 trillion over 10 years; it will grow more after that…

“All this is particularly reckless given the unfunded liabilities of Medicare—now north of $37 trillion over 75 years. Mrs. Pelosi wants to steal $426 billion from future Medicare spending to ‘pay for’ universal coverage. While Medicare’s price controls on doctors and hospitals are certain to be tightened, the only cut that is a sure thing in practice is gutting Medicare Advantage to the tune of $170 billion. Democrats loathe this program because it gives one of out five seniors private insurance options.

“As for Medicaid, the House will expand eligibility to everyone below 150% of the poverty level . . . at a cost of $425 billion [to state and federal governments at a time when] when budgets from Albany to Sacramento are in fiscal collapse. . .

“All told, the House favors $572 billion in new taxes, mostly by imposing a 5.4-percentage-point ’surcharge’ on joint filers earning over $1 million, $500,000 for singles. This tax will raise the top marginal rate to 45% in 2011 from 39.6% when the Bush tax cuts expire—not counting state income taxes and the phase-out of certain deductions and exemptions. . . .Meanwhile, a tax equal to 2.5% of adjusted gross income will also be imposed on some 18 million people who CBO expects still won’t buy insurance in 2019.”

A study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that the provisions in the Senate version of ObamaCare would add $1,700 a year to the cost of family coverage in 2013 and $600 for a single person. By 2019, family premiums could be $4,000 higher and individual premiums could be $1,500 higher.

Greg Conko calls the bill “worse than the disease.” In a recently-released paper, “A Cure Worse than the Disease: Obama Care Won’t Cut Costs, But May Cut Quality,” Conko notes that most of the alleged cost-cutting measures in the Baucus bill merely shift costs from the federal government onto the states or private payers, without reducing long-term health care inflation. The only measures that could conceivably reduce the annual rate of growth in health care costs would erect government barriers between patients and their doctors, while jeopardizing long-term medical innovation.

Another new study found that provisions contained in the health care reform bills, like guaranteed issue and community rating mandates, would drive up premiums by 50 percent for individual policies and 19 percent for small group plans.

A study from the Independence Institute says that ObamaCare would drive up inflation and medical care costs, while shrinking the economy.

As Conko notes, many states have highly concentrated markets. In Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Alaska, for example, 95 percent or more of the health insurance market is served by just two insurers. But Obama and congressional Democrats oppose letting insurers compete across state lines, blocking competition that could make health insurance cheaper. Other countries with cheaper health insurance permit insurers to compete nationally.

ObamaCare would raise taxes. It would also explode state and federal budget deficits, and would actually cost $2 trillion — far more than its promised $800 billion price tag. It contains special-interest pork, like racial preferences.

It contains provisions sought by trial lawyers that will increase medical costs. Doctors afraid of being wrongly sued for malpractice despite providing good quality care order unnecessary tests (or defensive medicine), which wastes $200 billion annually.

In his health care speech, Obama falsely promised tort-reform pilot projects, as a token gesture to doctors. But the health care bill he backs does just the opposite, requiring states to repeal existing reforms to their medical malpractice laws if they want federal funds. For example, they lose money if they do anything to “limit attorneys fees.”

The health care bills backed by Obama and congressional leaders ignore reforms that would help doctors and patients alike, like setting up specialized health courts to rule on malpractice claims instead of having them ruled on by juries that have little understanding of medicine or technology.