Sunday, March 21, 2010

House Passes Turd, Calls It "Reform"

That's the word tonight. On a vote of 219-212, the House of Representatives passed the unfortunate health care bill that's been causing such a fuss for so long. 34 Democrats and every Republican voted against it.

Reader Kevin Kelley asks "Based on your analysis, would you believe that there will be no benefits from this legislation?"

Pretty much. It's very clear there aren't any that even remotely counterbalance the costs. To name but one of the latter, the bill provides for what is, in effect, the public subsidy of industry purchase of legislators. Legitimate reformers will rue the day they allowed that to happen.

The truth is that just over 80% of Americans are already at least partially insured. Their insurance is frequently lousy, but more than 70% of them give their coverage high marks, and for a very simple reason: they rarely ever use it. The only effect that 80+% are going to feel from this reform is ever-escalating premiums for ever-decreasing services, as the industry protects its profit margins. As the bill does nothing to curb costs (once we set aside wishful thinking for what it is), medical bills will continue to be a crippling expense, and will remain the top cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. The billions of dollars--31% of total health expenditures--currently devoted to paperwork as a result of the private health insurance system will continue to rise, as new people enter and add to the workload. Health care spending as a percentage of GDP--already near 20%--will rise to new heights, as those new customers get, at best, the same lousy coverage as who are already covered, and, in general, minimal plans that don't really cover anything. The hardest to ensure--those with pre-existing conditions--will remain the hardest to ensure, as companies dodge covering them--among other shortcomings, the penalty for refusing coverage is often more cost-effective than providing the coverage--and raise premiums across the board to make up for any shortfall in either taking them on or denying them coverage.

In short, all of the problems that form the substance of the arguments for genuine reform are left to fester and worsen.

The problems with the plan all track back to the fact that, instead of reform, it's corporate welfare devoted to propping up a failed, private, for-profit system; as Dennis Kucinich put it (before flip-flopping), it's built on a foundation of sand. Don't ever get any fancy ideas about reforming anything in the future, either, not with those subsidies underwriting the industries' purchase of legislators, and with the Supreme Court just ruling these corporate "persons" can spend unlimited amounts on the candidates of their choice.

It's a bad bill. It shouldn't have been passed.


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