In the same fashion as the House version of health care reform, the Senate version eliminates lifetime and annual limits on the benefits for any participant or beneficiary, dependent coverage is extended until children turn 26 (although they are very much NOT children by this point), and it prohibits the discrimination of coverage based on salary.
I don’t really get that last one, because employers will be terminating their own health care plans because the government fines and fees for not providing coverage will be much lower than the cost of the plans themselves.
The Senate version provides for immediate access to insurance for those individuals with a pre-existing condition, sets up the “health benefit exchange”, and like the House version, creates so many layers of bureaucracy in health care that you’ll be lucky to make it through the red tape to see an actual doctor.
While reading the Senate’s “amendment in the nature of a substitute” to HR 3590, I realized that even though they worked on it behind closed doors and kept the whole process hush-hush, we’ve seen much of this bill before. Most of the provisions of the Senate version of the bill have been seen twice before, even three times, in the previous versions of the House bills as well as the first Senate bill that was “tossed out there” for all of us to see.
And just like the House version(s), this bill stinks, and it stinks bad. The Senate debated the bill all day today and they are scheduled to debate again all day tomorrow. You can watch the proceedings on CSPAN2, but make sure you contact your senators before you do anything else and tell them to vote against cloture on this bill. A vote for cloture (remember, they need 60 votes to proceed) is a vote for the bill (since they only need 51 votes to pass the bill).
Rather than go section by section (which would take me a couple days to post again) I thought I would cover some of the more pertinent and dangerous portions of the bill. If you read my posts on HR3200 or HR3962 then you are pretty much up to speed with this Senate bill, with a few exceptions.
The Senate bill weighs in at 2,074 pages (the largest one yet) and 20.8 pounds. The average staple weighs roughly 32 milligrams, average paper clip weighs 1 gram, and the average stethoscope weighs about 5 ounces. The Senate bill weighs more than 294,835 staples, 9,434 paper clips or 66 stethoscopes. That’s one heavy bill.
When Medicaid was created years ago, the original estimates put the cost of the bill at $238 million, yet the cost of Medicaid hit $1 billion and have been rising ever since, so let’s get real about the cost of this (or any) health care bill presented thus far by the Democrats.
James Capretta, the Ethics and Public Policy Center fellow for NRO, estimates the true cost of the bill (with the “doc fix” included) to be $4.9 trillion over 20 years with Democrats raising $2.2 in tax hikes and recovering more money by making cuts to Medicare coverage.
At a cost of $2.5 trillion, which is turning out to be a very conservative number itself, the Senate bill will cost us $1.2 billion per page, or $6.8 million per word.
The Senate bill includes provisions which will impose an additional taxes and fees which borderline on ridiculous. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said it best when he said,
If you have insurance, you get taxed. If you don’t have insurance, you get taxed. If you need a life-saving medical device, you get taxed. If you need prescription medicines, you get taxed
There is a new marriage penalty which will hit many couples right in the pocketbook, and will increase the federal deficit, which President Obama promised he would not support doing. Of course, when was the last time you heard an honest word come out of his mouth, seriously?
The non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation released it’s own report which estimates how much revenue taxes in the bill are likely to generate. According to the JCT,
- Tax on high-end health insurance plans: $149.1 billion
- Capping flexible spending accounts at $2,500: $14.6 billion
- Fees for drug makers: $22.2 billion
- Fees for medical device makers: $19.3 billion
- Fees for health insurance companies: $60.4 billion
- Higher floor for deducting medical expenses: $15.2 billion
- Higher payroll tax for top earners: $53.8 billion
- Tax on cosmetic surgery: $5.8 billion
The report goes on to list all of the different taxes and fees, which total much more than this initial list which comes to $340.4 billion in new taxes paid by you and me. Notice that last one which reflects the new 5% excise tax on elective cosmetic surgery. Nancy Pelosi is not going to like that provision at all. How much you want to bet that entire paragraph gets stripped in conference if this bill passes the Senate?
One fee not mentioned, until now, is the monthly abortion fee that everyone under the government-run plan will be paying for. According to Section 1303 of the Senate bill, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will have the authority to determine when abortion will be allowed under the government run health plan, and all premiums paid under the government run plan will be paid into the U.S. Treasury account which will be used to pay for abortion services.
HR 3590, “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” will also allow the government to enter your home under “home visitation programs”. Section 2951 will allow the government to send officials into your home to check the “wellness” of your children, to make sure you are parenting your children properly and otherwise taking care of them at some standard which will be set by the government.
Those officials will be checking on low income families, women under the age of 21 who become pregnant, families with a history of substance abuse, families that have members who use tobacco products, families with children who have low student achievement, families with children who have learning disabilities or developmental delays, and families with individuals who are serving or have served in our armed forces.
Just think of the ramifications of section 2951 which is a clear example of invasion of privacy, and that section alone is enough reason not to support the passage of this bill.
There is no doubt that our health care system needs an adjustment, or even reform if you want to call it that, but this bill, as well as all of the other Democrat bills presented thus far is not what we need, or want. We cannot allow this bill to be forced upon us by Barack Obama, with help Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
Remember to take some time out of your day tomorrow to contact your senators and tell them to vote no on cloture. One vote could literally save our country from the downward spiral known as government run health care.