Wednesday, October 07, 2009

On Death, Taxes and "Reform" [Updated & Bumped]

[Please scroll down for major update]

One of the basic problems with ObamaCare is that no one really knows what it will end up actually being. There are so many conflicting interests and so little substance, it's rather like trying to hit a moving target. Still, one works with the material at hand, and a (bleak) picture begins to take shape.

First, all this nonsense that it will be "deficit neutral" or "pay for itself" is just that, nonsense [ed: not necessarily true; see correction below]:

Congressional tax experts reported that the bill would impose $29 billion more in taxes on health care industries than originally thought -- levies that could be passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums."

"(C)ould be" passed on to consumers? Who do they think they're kidding? The fact is, companies (employers) don't pay taxes -
never have, never will. These are always passed through to the end user (thee and me). This is Econ 101, and it's insulting that Fox doesn't acknowledge this. That's an additional $29 billion, by the way, on top of those already disclosed.

But what about that "death" tag, Henry? Surely you're done with the whole "Death Panels" meme by now?

[ed: Please don't call me Shirley]

No, it's not "death panels," at least not explicitly. But thanks to alert IB reader
Stuart F, we learn from the Wall Street Journal that:

The 2010 rules, which will be finalized next month, visit an 11% overall cut on cardiology and 19% on radiation oncology. They're targets only because of cost: Two-thirds of morbidity or mortality among Medicare patients owes to cancer or heart disease."

We've already discussed the major reimbursement rate reduction
on track for next year (and beyond); this is about the targeted specialties which will see even further erosion in the amount they can count on from Medicare. And since doc's that accept Medicare reimbursement are prohibited from "balance billing" their patients, it's a safe bet that there'll be quite a few less heart and cancer docs available to our seniors in the very near future. This should cause angst among the AARP set, but as we've seen, that organization is already in the tank for just this kind of outcome.

To steal a line from Bob: Smaller cars, bigger (more expensive) health insurance, Poppa Washington.

UPDATE: It's unclear how they were able to accomplish this, but the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) has just released their "scoring" of the Baucus version of ObamaCare. This is the process that assigns actual dollar values to legislative initiatives, and the non-partisan CBO has announced that they estimate the cost of this bill at
$829 Billion dollars (minimum) over the next 10 years.

And we all know what happens to gummint programs over time (hint: they don't get smaller).

CORRECTION: According to this
report in the Washington Post, the CBO claims that the Baucus bill would not add to the deficit. In fact, it appears that it would (if projections prove accurate) actually "slice $81 billion from projected budget deficits over the next 10 years."

That's the GOOD news.

Now for the BAD:

It would accomplish this Herculean feat by reducing existing gummint programs, including Medicare, by billions of dollars and taxing many folks who choose to keep their existing coverage by 40%.

Oh, and one more thing:

Remember how one of the primary motivations for this overhaul was to guarantee "universal coverage?" Well, not so much:

"By 2019 ... leaving about 25 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants)."

So how many of the current "47 million" are illegal aliens? If we presume a consistent proportion, that means that we will have effectively destroyed a system that works for the vast majority of citizens to cover 20 million, or about 5% of the "nonelderly."

Of course, this all presumes that there's no so-called "Public Option;" if that's thrown back into the mix (as Sen Reid and Rep Pelosi have demanded), then all bets are off.

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