Critical Condition

What Deal?

Thoughts from a senior Senate source: 

As has been reported, Sen. Reid was bogged down and wanted to show some “momentum” on health care; reporters dutifully complied and reported that a “deal” has been struck. But what deal? Ten Senators agreed on a handful of things without releasing details, cost or efficacy. And of the details that have leaked out, the two main provisions have serious new opponents: The liberal group HCAN says one won’t work (using non-profits for the government plan) and the hospitals (among many others) hate the expansion of an already unsustainable Medicare program-especially when the underlying bill already cuts a half-trillion dollars. Hospitals are a big deal in this debate. Most Senators don’t know the details of this plan; nobody knows how much it will cost or save; and nobody knows if it will actually get the job done.

We’ve known from the beginning that they would do whatever they had to do to pass something, anything. That includes dumping a government plan, or as in the case of the House bill, voting to ban abortion despite deeply held beliefs in favor of abortion. Passing a bill has always been more important than the content of the bill. If it says “health care reform” at the top, it will say “Barack Obama” on the dotted line.

What they still haven’t figured out is the underlying problem with the bill: It still has massive cuts to Medicare, it still doesn’t lower federal health care spending (in fact, that goes up according to CBO), and for the overwhelming majority of Americans, their premiums will still go up relative to today’s costs (even if they might grow slightly slower than if we did nothing at all). In other words, if this bill passes, there will be a half-trillion in Medicare cuts, the government will spend more over the next 10 years than they would have, and premiums will be just as high as if we did nothing-and the benefits don’t kick in for years. For that, we’re going to spend $2.5 trillion and screw up existing health care coverage? Good luck selling that one in Little Rock, Denver and Las Vegas.

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