The Baucus Bill: A Bad Diagnosis

Senator Max Baucus’ plan will not cure what ails American health care

You would think that Congress would’ve learned by now. Americans don’t want higher taxes, more federal regulations, or anything that resembles a ‘public option’—but that is exactly what Senator Max Baucus’ new health care reform package is offering. Below are three ‘bad diagnoses’ of the Baucus bill, adapted from information provided by the Heritage Foundation’s ongoing reports on this important issue. For example,  see Heritage’s paper Seven Fatal Flaws of Baucus Bill for a great resource.

Bad Diagnosis #1 – Higher Taxes and Mandates
Under the Baucus bill, drugs and medical devices would be subject to a new sales tax, and a tax would also be levied on insurance companies for ‘high-cost plans.’ Both of these tax hikes on the medical industry would be passed on to the consumer and make health care more expensive. Additionally, the bill would mandate that—by 2013—almost everyone purchase health insurance subject to new federal standards. According to the Heritage Foundation, an individual earning as little as $19,915 a year “would be required to spend as much as $1,145 on health insurance premiums,” with that price point rising based upon how much an individual or family makes. The government will be forcing people to buy something they cannot afford.

Tax hikes and mandates on low- to middle-income families are no way to pay for health care reform.

Bad Diagnosis #2 – A ‘Backdoor’ to a Public Option
In our Health Care Do’s & Don’ts, we had a hunch that an effort would eventually be launched to expand Medicaid to achieve government-run health care. Not surprisingly, that’s exactly what would happen under the Baucus bill. Millions of Americans would end up on Medicaid, and those new costs would be passed on to taxpayers.

We also mentioned the dangers of government-run health insurance ‘co-ops.’ These are also proposed in the Baucus bill. Simply put, a whopping $6 billion would be granted by the federal government for startup loans and grants for new co-ops. The Secretary of Health & Human Services would be able to regulate and promote co-ops, which would be a ‘public option’ by another name, but government-run health care nonetheless. Tomorrow afternoon, look for a blog post that explains the difference between good and bad co-ops.

A public option—or anything that could lead to one—would put bureaucrats in charge of your health care.

Bad Diagnosis #3 – Messing with Medicare
The Hill recently reported that the Baucus bill “cuts Medicare spending by more than $300 billion.” This is the wrong prescription. Seniors are under-served by Medicare as it is, and drastic cuts would only make the problem worse. Medicare is already the largest denier of medical claims, according to the American Medical Association’s 2008 National Health Insurer Report Card. With $300 billion cuts from Medicare, the program would most likely be forced to deny even more claims due to tighter budget restraints.

To make matters worse, the Baucus bill penalizes Medicare physicians who provide higher levels of treatment to senior citizens. Medicare physicians who authorize treatments deemed ‘too expensive’ on a yearly basis will lose 5% of their total Medicare reimbursements for that year. The Baucus bill would put another barrier between seniors and the care they receive from their doctors.

Deep cuts to Medicare and tampering with how physicians are compensated would hurt the elderly and their doctors.

Americans want true health care reform, not a government takeover of health care. Be sure to check out Family Council’s Health Care Do’s & Don’ts for reform ideas that we believe will strengthen our current system and eliminate what isn’t working.

———————-

UPDATE: CNN has just reported that the Baucus bill will cost $829 billion.

UPDATE: Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute points out that, in reality, the bill will cost over $2 trillion.

2 Responses to “The Baucus Bill: A Bad Diagnosis”

  1. Is the argument against a government health care system a religious argument or a political argument? (In other words, is this about not wanting the government to help the infirmed; or is this about tax dollars and not wanting to “grow the government”?)

    The key themes of “higher taxes” and “federal regulation” used throughout this blog suggest the real opposition stems from a political ideology. The Baucus bill undoubtedly has problems.

    As a Christian, I feel somewhat conflicted over opposing legislation that would increase medical access and help people live healthier lives just because it will also increase my taxes and create another government agency.

    Can Christians not engage in a dialog based on our religious convictions? Or, must we suppress our religious impulses to help the least among us and oppose all government programs with Republican zeal?

    Granted, American’s don’t want higher taxes. But Christians want private and public sector programs that help people. Through Christ, we understand that everyone (rich or poor) has a worth that transcends any monetary valuation.

    The argument against government health care reform, as presented in the blog above, successfully addresses the concerns of fiscal conservatives. For Christians, however, it is hollow.

  2. Family Council supports health care reform. Many of our ideas on the subject can be found in our document “Health Care Reform Do’s & Don’ts”: http://familycouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/HealthCareDosandDonts.pdf