Monday, September 21, 2009

Well, Duh

I may have been overly simplistic in asserting that Senate Republicans would not vote Sen. Baucus's health care proposal because they wouldn't vote for any reform coming from a Democratic Congress for a Democratic President. It appears that they may have what seems to them a good reason: too many tax dollars are involved. That means that nobody likes the bill, well, except for Max Baucus and the insurance industry.

Just why this is so is set out nicely in an opinion column written for the Boston Globe by Maggie Mahar, a fellow at the Century Foundation. Here are just a few of the details Ms. Mahar found in the Baucus bill which makes it so unpalatable for any sentient being:

It’s no surprise that his bill includes no public sector insurance plan. Instead, the only competition that giant insurers face will come from tiny co-operatives - and even then, to qualify for federal funding, they must be fledglings. Established co-ops will not qualify for help. Thus, private insurers can count on controlling the marketplace as millions of new customers who don’t have job-based coverage are required by law to come their way, tax subsidies in hand.

...The Baucus bill won’t let insurers hike premiums because a customer suffers from a pre-existing condition. But it lets insurers charge older Americas five times as much as younger customers.

The Baucus legislation also imposes a penalty on single-parenthood. If you live alone with one child, you will be asked to shell out 80 percent more than a childless adult.

Of course it makes sense that coverage for a mother and child would cost more than the premium for a single person. But since children typically use much less health care than adults, 80 percent is a steep surcharge for single-parenthood - especially since a couple with children would pay only 50 percent more than a childless couple. ...

Single parents also tend to cling to the lower rungs of the income ladder. Many will qualify for at least a partial, if not a full subsidy. Who lays out the extra 80 percent? That’s right - you and I.

Finally, if under the Baucus bill, insurers can charge middle-income 50-somethings five times as much as even the most affluent 20-somethings, a great many of those older customers are going to need fat subsidies, sending more tax dollars to Aetna.

Aetna (or Blue Cross, or any of the other major health insurance players) don't really care where the money comes from, just as long as it keeps coming at a rate they have become accustomed to. Republicans wouldn't ordinarily object, free market and all, but in their view, the tax dollars are causing a benefit to a group of people they feel are unworthy: the poor and single women with kids.

So, the bill doesn't reform anything. In fact, it's going to cost us more for health care no matter how you look at it, more than a single payer system would have cost us.

Sweet deal, but not for us.

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