Today, Nice Guy Eddie, over at "In My Humble Opinion," jotted out a post on "The Health Care Bill." I started to write a reply, over there, and my comments started to run long, so I decided to turn it into a full-blown posting here:
Those opposing the health care "reform" bill from, broadly speaking, the left are right about it. They aren't opposing the bill out of some blind idealism, as is so often suggested; they're opposing it for very particular reasons, ones they've been articulating in their public remarks on it. In a nutshell, they're against it because it isn't reform. It isn't anything even close to reform. It's a corporate welfare bill, and nothing more. Eddie and some others who've been commenting on it lately have, in my view, missed this entirely, and seem to be functioning under the misimpression that this is, instead, a reform bill. It isn't. It isn't some sort of improvement in the present mess that can be improved even more at some indeterminate point in the future, as it is so often presented. If it was, I’d be supporting it myself. I'm a liberal, but I'm also a pragmatist. The perfect should never be made the enemy of the good, and that isn't how the liberals have approached the current bill.
For all those grating screams of "socialism" from the right, this is, in fact, a conservative Republican bill, written, at various stages, by insurance company lobbyists, pawned off by conservative Republicans as their own, and eventually adopted by Obama as his own (causing all the Republicans to jump ship). That lineage is important, because the bill's conceptual failing is rooted in it.
Eddie asks if the insurance companies make a profit from this and answer "Yes, I'm sure they'll find a way to. They always do." They don't have "find a way," though; the health care bill is the way. Corporate welfare. The bill sets up a corrupt triangle of money. It gives tens-of-billions in government subsidies to low-income people, who, at the point of the government gun, must spend it on private insurance companies, who then route a portion of it into the pockets of politicians in order to keep any positive changes off the table in the future.
Rather than improving anything, the bill makes everything worse. The "public option" was, theoretically, at least, a means of curbing costs by offering serious competition with the private insurers. Without it, there’s absolutely nothing to curb costs. Health care costs rise at many times the rate of inflation every year, and all this bill does is force people into that ever-costlier system on the blind hope that, if more people sign up, costs will go down, because there are more people in the risk pools. This is a "market based" approach, otherwise known as "wishful thinking," the kind we expect to pay off now, though it never has in the past.
The insurers are legally allowed, under the bill, to collude and fix prices. The noxious Slavery Provision forces people to buy private insurance or face a new tax penalty. I can't afford a new tax penalty any more than I can afford private insurance, but that's all the bill offers for someone in my predicament.
Contrary to the false claims of its supporters, this bill does not fix the problem of pre-existing conditions. Companies that continue to refuse to sign up people based on them can, after a lengthy procedure, be fined only $100/day, while those companies that do sign them up, having been barred from charging the individuals whatever exorbitant premium they want, can just raise everyone else’s rates an unlimited amount to make up for the difference, as long as they don't say that's why they're doing it. They're also allowed to continue rescinding policies based on fraud or misrepresentation, entirely defined by them. That's been, for some years, now, their major pretext for rescinding coverage for those who become ill, and, with the current health bill in place as law, we'll simply see the industry miraculously uncover an astonishing epidemic of fraud among those with pre-existing conditions. Another way of getting around it included in the bill: selling those with such conditions only minimal policies.
The bill isn't some "necessary first step" toward reform; it's a huge leap away from reform, and will make it much harder, if not outright impossible, for any real reform to be enacted in the future, because the insurance companies have been given, effectively, a government stipend for their bribery of legislators. The bill doesn't bring us closer to reform--it takes us much further away.
Those among the Democrats who are pushing this seem to have completely lost their minds. They seem totally blind to the mess this monstrosity can create. They don't even demonstrate any rudimentary self-survival instincts--it's very bad politics for the Democrats to pass the bill. It doesn't, in my view, provide for the possibility of any short-term gains--the polling has made it pretty clear that people don't want the bill in its present form. Public reaction is likely to fall somewhere between indifference and outright hostility. Once the bill goes into effect, some years down the road, the Democrats certainly won't be able to bullshit people anymore. They'll be slaughtered at the polls for the mess they’ve made of this--it's why Rahm Emanuel only wanted it to kick in after what he hopes will be the Obama's reelection.
The future, under this bill, is one of premiums that continue to rise for those with insurance, people without the money to buy private insurance being left with even less money, a health insurance industry with federal subsidies, making it even more invincible, and the feds funding, in effect, the campaigns of the politicians the industry chooses to purchase, a job our wonderful Supreme Court has just made a lot easier. It's a bad bill--it needs to die.