HR3962 : Division A : Part One

As you know by now, Nancy Pelosi announced the release of HR 3962 : Affordable Health Care for America Act on Thursday of last week.

I took a quick glance at it that afternoon, and mentioned that I would be looking at the bill over the weekend. You will be happy to know that I have spent the better part of my weekend reading through the bill and making notes.

The summary of this bill won’t be quite as detailed as the one I did for HR 3200, but I will cover as much as I can before tomorrow night. I’ve heard rumors that the House will begin debate on the bill this week, and I want to get through as much of the bill as I can so you know what to talk about when you call your Representatives about HR 3962.

While the word rationing does not appear in the text of the bill, Title I, Section 101, authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to monitor the costs of covering the “high-risk pool” of citizens, and to adjust benefits, premiums and such to offset the expenses of treating them. It even goes so far as to establish waiting lists for those in this “pool”.

If the Secretary estimates for any fiscal year that the aggregate amounts available for payment of expenses of the high-risk pool will be less than the amount of the expenses, the Secretary shall make such adjustments as are necessary to eliminate such deficit, including reducing benefits, increasing premiums, or establishing waiting lists.

Twenty-five pages into the bill and they’ve already established the authorization for rationing your health care. Remember my review of HR 3200 and my examples, including those who are elderly with cancer, those who have AIDS/HIV, or those who have lifelong diseases like Parkinsons? It’s only a matter of time before their coverage dries up completely now.

At this point, I thought it might be a good idea to take some Tylenol, while I still have access to it. Based on these first pages, this is going to be an interesting read.

Title II, Section 202 will phase out private health insurance coverage by 2013. This section states,

Individual health insurance coverage that is not grandfathered health insurance coverage under subsection (a) may only be offered on or after the first day of Y1 as an Exchange-participating health benefits plan.

Can you say hello single payer health care? Seriously. At first I thought this bill was a “Punk’d” prank played by Nancy Pelosi on the House Republicans, but as I read more, I realized this really is our nightmare and if we don’t do something about it, it will come true.

Things get very controversial, and sad, Subtitle C, Section 222 authorizes the use of federal funding for abortions. Yes, the bill actually mentions the word abortion, and they make it blatantly clear that this public health care bill (in it’s current form) will remove all roadblocks of federally funded abortions.

(3) COVERAGE UNDER PUBLIC HEALTH INSURANCE OPTION- The public health insurance option shall provide coverage for services described in paragraph (4)(B). Nothing in this Act shall be construed as preventing the public health insurance option from providing for or prohibiting coverage of services described in paragraph (4)(A).

(4) ABORTION SERVICES-

(A) ABORTIONS FOR WHICH PUBLIC FUNDING IS PROHIBITED- The services described in this subparagraph are abortions for which the expenditure of Federal funds appropriated for the Department of Health and Human Services is not permitted, based on the law as in effect as of the date that is 6 months before the beginning of the plan year involved.

(B) ABORTIONS FOR WHICH PUBLIC FUNDING IS ALLOWED- The services described in this subparagraph are abortions for which the expenditure of Federal funds appropriated for the Department of Health and Human Services is permitted, based on the law as in effect as of the date that is 6 months before the beginning of the plan year involved.

Subtitle C, Section 223, establishes the Health Benefits Advisory Committee, much like HR 3200. The HBAC will be authorized to recommend covered benefits and essential, enhanced, and premium plans.

So basically, the Surgeon General, nine Presidential appointees, nine people appointed by the Comptroller General and up to eight Federal employees will be deciding which benefits will be offered, which benefits are essential, and which benefits will be offered with which plans.

Say hello to the RATION BOARD.

We were told early on in the public discussion about HR 3200 that the bill did not include anything to do with end-of-life care, death panels, or any mention of assisted suicide. Then someone decided they would remove that section. You know, the section they say was never there (even though we have copies of it in HR 3200). Well, guess what? It’s back.

While they make several references stating that the section does not promote suicide, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing. They also go to great lengths to state that the section shall not presume the withdrawal of treatment. Yet, Subtitle D, Section 240 states,

Nothing in this section shall be construed –

(1) to require an individual to complete an advanced directive or a physician’s order for life sustaining treatment or other end-of-life planning document;

(2) to require an individual to consent to restrictions on the amount, duration, or scope of medical benefits otherwise covered under a qualified health benefits plan

In other words, even though nothing in that section will promote suicide, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing, we as individuals will not be required to complete an advanced directive, our physicians won’t be required to fulfill an order for life sustaining treatment or end-of-life planning, and we’ll have no say when they begin restricting the amount of medicine and treatment we receive in our “end of life” stage.

Subtitle F, Section 258 brings up the topic of abortion again. At the top of page 147 we learn,

IN GENERAL- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to have any effect on Federal laws regarding

(A) conscience protection;

(B) willingness or refusal to provide abortion; and

(C) discrimination on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.

Read that highlighted part again. Doesn’t this potentially open the door for federally funding organizations such as Planned Parenthood and others which promote (and offer) abortion services?

This section makes sure that nothing in the act shall be construed to have any effect on current laws, and does not explicitly ban funding, it in effect authorizes the federal funding of abortion under the soon to be debated public option.

Subtitle B, Section 321 establishes the “Public Health Insurance Option”. Nanny State Nancy Pelosi spent the better part of last week trying to re-brand the public option into the “consumer option” but the only way to genuinely describe this plan is to call it the “government option”.

For years beginning with Y1, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in this subtitle referred to as the ‘Secretary’) shall provide for the offering of an Exchange-participating health benefits plan (in this division referred to as the ‘public health insurance option’) that ensures choice, competition, and stability of affordable, high quality coverage throughout the United States in accordance with this subtitle. In designing the option, the Secretary’s primary responsibility is to create a low-cost plan without compromising quality or access to care.

Remember now, the Secretary of Health and Human Services primary responsibility will be to create a low-cost plan without compromising quality or access to care, but we learned on page 25 that the same Secretary will also be authorized to cut services (compromise quality) and create waiting lists (cut off access to care), anytime he/she feels it is appropriate. Do you feel like we are running in circles here?

Section 330 permits members of Congress to enroll in the new public option. Like any sane member of Congress is going to turn away from their existing plan to take this option. If they are going to support this thing, they should be required, not permitted, to be covered by the same plan we are.

In Subtitle C, Section 345 we welcome back the income verification section which is quite similar to what we saw in HR 3200, and again, there is no mention of how an individuals information will be verified, only their income. 250 pages into the bill and we still haven’t addressed the coverage for millions of illegal immigrants.

Program Integrity; Income Verification Procedures-

(1) PROGRAM INTEGRITY- The Commissioner shall take such steps as may be appropriate to ensure the accuracy of determinations and redeterminations under this subtitle.

(2) INCOME VERIFICATION-

(A) IN GENERAL- Upon an initial application of an individual for an affordability credit under this subtitle (or in applying section 342(b)) or upon an application for a change in the affordability credit based upon a significant change in modified adjusted gross income described in subsection (c)

(1)–

(i) the Commissioner shall request from the Secretary of the Treasury the disclosure to the Commissioner of such information as may be permitted to verify the information contained in such application; and

(ii) the Commissioner shall use the information so disclosed to verify such information.

(B) ALTERNATIVE PROCEDURES- The Commissioner shall establish procedures for the verification of income for purposes of this subtitle if no income tax return is available for the most recent completed tax year.

As I mentioned after my first glance at the bill, Title IV, Subtitle B, Section 413 imposes a mandatory tax on employers who do not meet the “minimum employer contribution”, by charging them up to 8% of the employee’s average wages paid by the employer.

Title V, Subtitle A, Section 501 makes amendments to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, by implementing the 2.5% tax (yes, they reference this penalty as a tax) on those who do not possess “acceptable health care coverage” and Section 511 adds an additional $100 per day fee (per employee) for employers who fail to satisfy the health coverage participation requirements.

Let’s say you make $100,000 per year. If you do not have insurance through your employer, your employer will be paying as much as $8,000 per year as a penalty for not offering you insurance. If this continues for 100 days, they will pay an additional $10,000. Then, on top of that you will be paying an additional $2,500 per year for not possessing acceptable health care coverage. Remember, these are just the penalties, not the actual cost of health care coverage for you. One individual. Hold on though, it doesn’t stop there.

Section 512 goes on to add yet another “tax” on firms who elect not to offer, or cannot afford to offer, coverage. This Employer Excise Tax (yes, again they define this penalty as another tax) will amount to another 8% of the employee’s average wages.

So, if you, the person I just mentioned above, work for a small firm, or you own your own small firm, you will be paying an additional $8,000 “excise tax”. At this point, as a self-employed individual, you will have paid $28,500 out of pocket in additional taxes thanks to HR 3962.

So in review, under HR 3962, if you make $100,000 per year in wages, you could be paying an additional $28,500 in taxes before you even begin to calculate your income taxes, self-employment taxes, or any other taxes and fees that will be thrown at you.

According to what we’ve covered so far, that $28,500 will buy you the right to have your health care rationed, the transformation to a single payer health care system, special end-of-life care, and even more taxes which I’ll discuss in my next post. Your contribution will also help cover the health care costs of millions of illegal immigrants and women who choose to obtain abortions.

For those of you keeping track and reading along (cough) this brings us to page 316.

More to follow…