Another Government Solution At Zero Cost
Congress has been working hard lately as one trillion dollar legislative decree after another has “solved” the banking crisis, the global warming crisis and the foreclosure crisis. In between all of this, an almost trillion dollar stimulus plan was passed to solve the economic crisis of declining GDP growth and job losses. (See Cost of Easy Money – $14 Trillion and Counting).
Now, as we enter the month of July, Congress is eager to pass another multi trillion dollar piece of legislative fiat, this time to solve the health care crisis. We are also told that solving the health care crisis will be achieved at zero cost due to offsetting “savings”.
The goal of providing unrationed, free and universal health care may be more difficult and complex than anticipated. Health care spending comprises almost 20% of our GDP and involves millions of jobs and hundreds of thousands of varied health care providers all intertwined in a complex network. Simplistic solutions put together during the frenzied atmosphere of “let’s get it done this month” are likely to produce many unintended adverse consequences. Public opinion polls reveal the confusion regarding what should be done to improve the US health care system.
Americans are passionate and confused about it — and their opinions are all over the lot.
A CNN-Opinion Research poll found that 51 percent of Americans favor Obama’s health-care plan, but a Wall Street Journal-NBC poll found that only 33 percent think it is a “good idea.” A New York Times-CBS News poll found that nearly six in 10 would be willing to pay higher taxes so that all could be insured, but a Kaiser poll found that 54 percent would not be willing to pay more to increase the number.
A Quinnipiac University poll found that a majority — 54 percent — believe that reducing health-care costs is more important than covering those who lack coverage, while the Times-CBS poll found that 65 percent thought that insuring the uninsured was a more serious issue. A Washington Post poll found that 57 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the health-care system — but 83 percent are satisfied with the quality of their own care.
In short, when it comes to health care, the state of the union is confused. The confusion won’t be cleared up by the complexity of the debate, with all the jargon about community ratings and insurance exchanges and risk adjustments and guaranteed issues.
Reading some of the latest commentary on health care reform, our national leaders have tried to dumb down the issue and provide simplified answers for confused Americans.
Here are the promises:
Obama vows that health care reform will not add one dime to the federal budget deficit. The plan to provide government insurance to those who cannot obtain private health insurance will be paid for by collecting premiums from the newly insured.
Drastic cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to specialists and other health care providers can be used to pay for the cost of providing medical services to the uninsured.
The legendary 46 million uninsured people in America will have the unlimited health care they are entitled to.
In order to achieve universal and affordable health care, time is of the essence and Congress needs to quickly approve legislation by the end of July.
Here are the realities:
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of health care reform at $1.6 trillion over the next ten years. Based on the routine cost overruns of every government program, expect this number to be at least twice the estimate.
“Savings” obtained by cutting reimbursements translates into reduced jobs and incomes for the companies employing health care workers.
If there are really 46 million people being denied health care in this country, we would literally be tripping over the dead and dying every time we ventured out. Where are the headlines citing real people who have perished from unavailable health care? This hyped and unverified figure exaggerates the “health care crisis” for political purposes.
If 46 million people actually have no insurance, the logical question is why? If many of the uninsured do not have health insurance because they cannot afford the cost, exactly how is the government going to cover the cost of providing health care to the uninsured by “collecting premiums”?
Health care, essential to all of us, is an issue for many Americans. Those who believe that Washington can provide universal health care without “adding a dime to the federal deficit” are in fantasy land.
And this from a major hospital in Connecticut in a letter to their employees:
Tough times continue for “X” Hospital and for health care overall. At this time last year, our financials were making a comeback – not so far this year. As unemployment rises in the local area, we’re seeing more patients with government insurance. We already know that we will be reimbursed even less for these patients next year. In our immediate region, Bridgeport, Greenwich, New Milford and Waterbury hospitals have laid off workers to make up for financial losses.
The initial results of government “cost savings” generated by lower reimbursements are resulting in health care job losses and weakening the financial condition of many hospitals and other health care providers. Given the size of future promised government “savings” from reduced payments to health care providers, who will be left employed in the health care industry to provide health care?