February 22, 2010

Today in Health Care

So much for the administration's "pivot" to jobs, jobs, jobs...

Daniel Foster starts out his NRO piece with a brief summary of the new, re-hashed Obama health care proposal...

The White House this morning unveiled its health-care "compromise," a bill that at $950 billion is larger than its Senate predecessor and proposes broad new regulatory powers for the government to control health-care premiums.

The Obama plan increases subsidies for the purchase of individual insurance and expands funding for prescription medication in Medicare Part D. It replaces state-specific Medicaid deals such as the "Cornhusker Kickback" with increased Medicaid funding for all fifty states.

To fund these increases, the bill increases the Medicare payroll tax, applies it to unearned income such as capital gains, and expands cuts to Medicare Advantage. It also increases corporate taxes on the pharmaceutical industry by $10 billion and and raises penalties on businesses that don't offer insurance coverage.

As for the "Cadillac Tax," it expands exemption from unionized to all workers through 2018, and raises the threshold on taxable plans from $23,000 to $27,500.

The most significant addition to the plan is new regulations that would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to review and potentially block insurance premium increases.

The CBO says they can't score the new proposal, since they haven't been provided sufficient detail by the White House

More from Grace-Marie Turner at NRO's Critical Condition blog.

The much-awaited health-care reform plan the White House released this morning is little more than an amalgamation of the taxing, spending, mandating, and regulating policies of the bills that passed the House and Senate last year.

Instead of offering a genuinely fresh approach, Mr. Obama split the difference between two bad bills that are hugely unpopular with the American people. He would continue to mandate that both individuals and employers pay for health insurance or face fines and penalties. He would expand Medicaid, the most dysfunctional health program in the country. And he would increase fees on insurers and other health companies — fees that will be passed along to consumers in the form of higher premiums.

The big new idea in the president’s plan is to federalize regulation of health insurance, creating a Health Insurance Rate Authority to conduct “reviews of unreasonable rate increases and other unfair practices of insurance plans.” This reflects the overall strategy to give more and more control over the health sector to Washington.

I stole the post title from this Matthew Continetti entry at the Weekly Standard blog

Obama's new, improved plan is more expensive than the Senate bill, does not address the concerns of pro-life House Democrats over the Senate's abortion language, maintains the tax exemption for the Democrats' union friends, and will effectively turn insurance companies into heavily regulated public utilities. Despite all this, it's highly possible these changes could win at least 50 votes in the Senate -- and with Joe Biden's tie-breaking vote, the bill could become law through the parliamentary measure known as reconciliation.

Seems there are 18 Senate Democrats on the record opposing an attempt to ram this bill through Congress using the reconciliation procedure.

For a better understanding of just what reconciliation is, and what Democrats face in trying to get Obamacare passed this way, check out this piece by Jeff Davis at a TNR blog, and also James Capretta, at NRO. UPDATE 2/23: New York Times Symposium on using reconciliation, featuring Ramesh Ponnuru, Megan McArdle, Norman Ornstein and others.

See also:

Michael Steele at Breitbart's Big Government

Heritage Foundation: A First Look...

House Minority Leader John Boehner Press Release

Contentions: The Latest Same Obamacare Bill

What we do know is that under ObamaCare’s latest incarnation, you really don’t get to keep your existing health-care plan. And we know that it seeks to federalize the regulation of the health-insurance industry. [...] And it seems that there are $136B worth of new taxes to be imposed on the people Obama said he’d never tax, namely those families making less than $250,000.

What we don’t know is why anyone who opposed the last version(s) of ObamaCare would accept this one. It is still a mammoth tax-and-spend bill and still seeks to federalize health care. If Nancy Pelosi has 218 votes for this, I’d be surprised. If Senate Democrats want to walk the plank for a retread of the bill that voters in Massachusetts sent Scott Brown to the Senate to oppose, I’d be surprised. But I suppose we’ll find out.

Five conservatives share their ideas for health care reform in Sunday's NYT.

UPDATE 2/23: Jeffrey H. Anderson - A Man With a Plan

Heritage: Can They Make Obamacare Worse? Yes They Can!

David Brooks - Into the Mire

Hot Air

WSJ Editors - Obamacare at Ramming Speed

Posted by dan at February 22, 2010 5:47 PM