Tag Archives: The Affordable Health Choices Act
I never had much hope that Senator Max Baucus’ Finance Committee would bring forth a sensible anodyne to the House’s fatally toxic Affordable Health Choices Act, although I admit that his earlier markup had some promising features. While it didn’t have anything that would ever bend the cost curve in any direction but skyward, there were some aspects of his approach to the insurance exchange that showed at least a modicum of respect for market realities—unlike Speaker Pelosi’s risible public option. But all that vanished yesterday with the Senator’s new markup.
I’m still wading through the bill, but one conclusion stands out: the insurance exchange, as described in the bill, will fail. Or more accurately, any private insurer or member-owned co-op that offers individual health insurance through the exchange will be quickly bankrupted unless it can get massive subsidies from the government.
As America’s six million small business employers (1-499 employees) increasingly struggle to stay afloat during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the President and U.S. Congress are working hard to saddle them with new health insurance mandates that will sink many and force many more to lay off workers. The proposed legislation—named without a whiff of intended irony The Affordable Health Choices Act—will require all but the smallest employers to offer massively rich health benefits that far exceed what most provide today.
Besides the benefits, the bill requires employers to directly shoulder 72.5% of single and 65% of family premiums—far more than many pay now. Any company that fails to comply will be forced to pay a fine to the government of up to 8% of total payroll—money that will not be available for their own employees to buy insurance. Instead the funds will flow into the federal till to help subsidize American families making up to $88,000 per year—instantly converting much of the country’s middle class into a new welfare class.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken the gloves off with her tirades against “immoral” health insurance “villains” and the “un-American” citizen protesters who object to her taking over American health care. By my count (and Gallup’s), that adds up to more than 150 million concerned Americans who Ms. Pelosi says should shut up, sit down, and just pay for her unworkable, unaffordable “Affordable Health Choices Act”—and for several more ultra-luxury Gulfstream G-5 executive jets, so she can avoid mixing with her benighted constituents in those awkward airport security lines or being crammed into airline seats too narrow for her ample ego.
The Speaker apparently thinks she’s living in an alternate universe from the rest of us. How else to explain her utter tone-deafness to the voice of the majority of Americans who actually like their health insurance while so few of them believe Congress is doing a good job?
The government’s full-court press on health reform, epitomized by the awesomely inapt and inept Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (AHCA) now wending its way through the House, is trying to petrify in amber many of the myths that dominate so much of our thinking about health care. Here’s a brief look at some of the worst:
Myth # 1: Prevention and electronic medical records (EMR) will save money. Prevention is indeed a wonderful thing for extending people’s lives and allowing them to make more money, buy more stuff (including medical care), give more money to charity, and spend more time with their grandchildren. But it does not save any money on medical care! Here’s what the journal Health Affairs concluded earlier this year, “Over the four decades since cost-effectiveness analysis was first applied to health and medicine, hundreds of studies have shown that prevention usually adds to medical costs instead of reducing them. Medications for hypertension and elevated cholesterol, diet and exercise to prevent diabetes, and screening and early treatment for cancer all add more to medical costs than they save.” So forcing people to buy insurance that covers yet more preventive services (an oxymoron if you think about it) will drive premiums up not down.
I recently spent the better part of a Colorado summer Saturday reading the worst parts of something called The Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. Purported to constitute health care reform, its thousand pages were introduced this past week by the chairmen of the three congressional House committees with jurisdiction over health policy. It is the single most egregious piece of health care legislation to cross my desk in four decades. Hillary Care (yes, I read that one too), nonsensical as it was, represented an order of magnitude more thought than this bill which is so blind to basic economics on so many levels that I marvel at the ability of the three chairmen, Speaker Pelosi, President Obama, and the AMA to praise it with straight faces.