Despite the unprecedented horse-trading — that’s the nice term — that top Washington Democrats Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi employed to push their massive bureaucratic takeover of American medical care through both houses of Congress on a “rush” schedule this year, the scheme still seems to be in trouble.
House and Senate negotiators face “a serious problem” in resolving their differences on a single bill as thick as the Las Vegas yellow pages and are not likely to have a final draft until February, according to key House Democrats involved in ongoing talks.
“We’ve got a problem on both sides of the Capitol. A serious problem,” the Capitol Hill newspaper “Roll Call” quoted Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., saying Tuesday evening.
Another senior House Democrat familiar with negotiations told “Roll Call” no progress has been made this week on any of the key sticking points in the House and Senate bills, despite steady meetings with both the White House and union leaders.
Did you catch that? Not meetings with economists, constitutional scholars, or even doctors. “Union leaders.”
“There’s no agreement. No deal on anything. Nothing,” the lawmaker said.
House-Senate negotiators will need to continue working out their differences into February, despite earlier hopes to deliver a final bill to President Barack Obama in time for his State of the Union address in late January, the lawmaker said.
One of the biggest sticking points is how to pay for the bill. The Senate and the White House are pressing for a tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health insurance plans — paying for health insurance by taxing health insurance, sort of like feeding the poor by placing high taxes on food. The House, on the other hand, wants to more broadly raise taxes on “the rich” — the kind of people who might otherwise invest their wealth to create jobs.
Believe it or not, Democrats have now even proposed — they appear to be serious — taxing the “Cadillac” insurance plans of everyone but union members, who would be handed an exemption.
One huge underlying problem — if you believe there’s any goal here but to drive private medical insurers promptly out of business — was revealed in the poll of Nevadans conducted last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research and published in the Jan. 10 Review-Journal.
The Democratic scheme supposedly requires all Americans to buy health insurance — which can easily cost $7,000 per family per year, and will cost more, soon. But — in a compromise designed to avoid draconian penalties on the poor — the Democratic plan sets the fine for failing to do so at only $750 for an individual and $2,250 for a family.
Then — and here’s the poisoned pill, likely to drive all insurers but the government out of the business — insurers will be required to issue policies, at no increase in cost, even to cover pre-existing medical conditions. Anyone willing to pay the minimal fine could thus go without insurance until discovering they have cancer, then sign up for “insurance” at a modest cost and immediately start sending their millions of dollars worth of medical bills to their insurer!
(The word “insurance” is in quotes because this is no longer insurance, really — since it has nothing to do with pooling risk, this is merely pre-paid medical care, way below cost.)
Asked in the poll whether, under such a plan, they would pay the minimal fine and wait until becoming ill to buy “insurance,” 16 percent of Nevadans who already have health insurance said they’d definitely drop that insurance and wait till they got sick to re-up. Seven percent of those who currently have insurance said they’d think about it.
But the big number is among those who currently do NOT have insurance. Of those, 44 percent said they’d go out and buy insurance if required by law. But another 44 percent said no, they’d defy the law, pay the smaller fine, and wait till they got sick to sign up.
That’s a 50-50 split! (Twelve percent said they weren’t sure.) So all the assumptions about the number of uninsured Americans who’d be newly insured once the Democrat plan goes into effect need to be cut in half.
Meantime, you don’t have to be a certified public accountant to figure out what will happen to the profitability of private insurers if half the people now uninsured plan to wait till they develop an expensive injury or illness, and then go “buy insurance” at rates which insurers are forbidden to hike. This is like saying an insurance company is required to sell you “fire insurance coverage” at the standard rate, even if you run in the door announcing your house is already on fire.
Is it any wonder support for this absurd recipe for bankruptcy dropped among Nevadans from 43 percent to 39 percent in the four months from August to December, according to the Mason-Dixon poll, and that among independent voters — whose support Sen. Reid needs to win re-election this year — disapproval of Sen. Reid’s role in concocting this monstrosity grew, just since August, from 53 percent to 74 percent?
We all knew America’s race toward dysfunctional and bankrupt socialism had to hit a brick wall, at some point. Could the wall possibly be that thing with the black and yellow diagonal stripes that Charlie Rangel now sees right in front of his windshield?