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Obama Revives Senate's Dead Health Reform

February 26, 2010

By David Gratzer

A solid majority hopes Congress will completely abandon its existing proposals for health care reform and “start from scratch” instead, according to a recent Gallup poll. Yet last Monday, the president tabled a plan that’s different in only three significant respects from past congressional bills: It’s bigger, it’s more expensive, and it’s more complicated than the last version.

Perhaps you didn’t like ObamaCare because it included billions in unaccountable grants (read pork) to community health groups.

If so, the president’s “new” plan is about the same. The Senate bill spent $8.5 billion on grants over five years. The House bill spent $12 billion over the same period. The president’s “new” plan: “Bridging the difference, the President’s bill invests $11 billion.” Why didn’t he just split the difference 50-50 to make it easier?

Maybe you didn’t like the Senate’s version of ObamaCare because it set up 50 weak state health exchanges instead of a competitive national market, giving consumers no chance to outflank costly state regulations to save on premiums.

If so, Mr. Obama’s “new” plan includes the same Senate’s state-based formula. Don’t be fooled: The White House is now spinning it as a single “competitive health insurance market” to try to hide the details.

If you hated ObamaCare because there was too much spending, take note: The estimated cost of the “new” plan is $1 trillion, more than either version passed by Congress.

High Tax

If you disliked the congressional bills because they promised more competition but created more regulation instead, then you’ll hate this plan even more. The president’s plan creates a new agency “to provide federal assistance and oversight to states in conducting reviews” of insurance prices and insurance industry practices. At least half of U.S. states already have agencies that do exactly that.

If you weren’t happy with ObamaCare because it taxed jobs and innovation in America’s medical device industry, you’ll hate this version just as much. President Obama’s “new” plan changes the medical device “fee” to an excise tax, and delays the tax until 2013. But the “new” plan aims to tax the same amount over the same 10-year period. Meaning:

The rate will actually be higher once the tax is in place.

I’d urge you to look at the legislation to find these details, but no legislation has been posted. Yes, that’s right: While Democrats insist it’s time for Republicans to publish their own plans, as of Wednesday, the Democrats hadn’t posted much more than talking points and bullet points on the president’s plan.

Yet it’s clear that the president has legislation ready. After all, the White House document refers to a bill, and it divides the president’s ideas into titles as if a draft exists. It’s just hidden behind the curtains of power to protect it from the prying eyes of mere analysts.

So if you hated the 2,000 pages of new powers, new committees, new agencies and new regulations in the congressional version of ObamaCare, there’s more bad news. “New” ObamaCare has 10 titles. Think of that the same way book publishers think of volumes. Ten titles is as many as were in the final Senate bill — which by’s count included more than 425,000 words of legislation, or about half as long as the King James Bible.

It’s A Corpse

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ broadest measure of unemployment — called U6 — is above 16%. Americans want Washington to focus on jobs, the economy and the deficit. Yet the president refuses to give up on his dream of a giant, retro, 1960s-style health program to establish a liberal legacy. And for what purpose?

Once you take away insurance subsidies and a few other trinkets from the president’s plan, it’s likely that Mrs. Obama’s $400 million child obesity initiative will do more to improve health and cut future health care costs than her husband’s trillion-dollar monster.

In 2009, I compared the president’s approach to health reform to the movie “Groundhog Day,” in which Bill Murray is forced to wake up to exactly the same events every morning.

In 2010, a better comparison might be the 1980s comedy “Weekend at Bernie’s.” The president’s “new” health care plan is the corpse of the old Senate plan, propped up on a deck chair to make it seem like it’s still got life in it.

Mr. President: ObamaCare is dead. And if it isn’t, it should be. Let it rest in peace.

Original Source:



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