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  • The Latest Senate Health Proposals: Radical and Desperate

    Under increasing pressure to find unconventional ways to pay for the cost of health reform (which was supposed to save money for American families), the Senators sponsoring this legislative nightmare are getting more radical and desperate. While much of the debate has been on the higher-profile issues of cost and coverage, there are many more just as important, though unnoticed skirmishes, over defining the power of the federal government.

    Promoting Raw Power. The Senate HELP Committee is using $58 billion in “savings” from the CLASS Act provisions to help pay for the overall cost of its bill. CLASS benefits are cash benefits for enrollees who need help with daily activities. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of this provision makes it clear that this new program would add to the deficit in the long term. So, the HELP Committee has included a provision that gives the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services the raw power to reduce these benefits and increase enrollees’ premiums for the program. This is an enormous transfer of discretionary power to the Secretary of HHS. Indeed, based on its analysis, CBO not only thinks this is a possibility, CBO also expects such action to occur to keep costs under control.

    In normal times, this kind of Czar-like scheme would stretch the imagination. Just try it. Imagine the outcry from the seniors’ lobby if the Secretary of HHS were given such authority- the power to raise premiums and cut benefits- to solve Medicare’s unfunded liability problem: the trillions of dollars that are being added to current and future taxpayers’ burdens. Imagine also the popular revolt against giving the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration the power to increase Social Security payroll taxes and reduce seniors’ pension benefits. Imagine the Attorney General defending the right of the federal government to take such action against a lawsuit instigated by a low-income beneficiary challenging the constitutionality of such a provision. Such actions are simply beyond imagination.

    Promoting State Debt. As the HELP provision is difficult to imagine, Senate Finance Committee liberals have another one for you to ponder. They are so determined to expand Medicaid, but they unable to find sufficient savings to offset the skyrocketing costs, Senate Finance Committee members have just floated a complex bonding arrangement with the states. Under this proposal, the states would be required to finance the entire cost (states pay only 43 percent of Medicaid costs on average) of the proposed Medicaid expansion through taking on new debt by issuing bonds. Federal help is supposed to somehow magically materialize, but in a disguised manner intended to keep the cost “off the books” of the federal government. If the costs are “off the federal books,” maybe taxpayers won’t figure it out. Instead of details, more imagination is required.

    Issuing bonds to cover recurring operating expenses is, to put it mildly, generally ill-advised. Many states may not even have the authority to enter into such obligations under state law. In even considering such a proposal, the Committee seems out of touch with the critical budget situation of states like California. California is issuing IOUs to its own employees and state vendors. Can the states afford a federal IOU? Finance apparently ignores the fact that states can already expand eligibility to many of the individuals to be covered under the Finance provisions, but the elected men and women at the state level choose not to do so. Does forcing the sovereign states to take on a debt that is not of their making mean anything in today’s context?

    These are alarming developments. The Senate, in even considering such proposals, is hardly acting like the cool and deliberative body it is supposed to be in the civics books. It’s time for the solons to take a time out. Collect themselves. Reconnect with the real world. When running headlong in the wrong direction, the shortest path to the right destination is to stop, take a deep breath, and turn around.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to The Latest Senate Health Proposals: Radical and Desperate

    1. Roger S., MA. says:

      If this financing scheme gets passed, that amounts to the "Fannie and Freddy" of US health care. Will Morgan Stanley then buy the bonds, repackage them in some "securitized" version to be traded on the international financial markets? Is that the underlying idea? Will that be the future new disguise for IOU's? Will it be ready in time for Halloween? Scary!

    2. Val Hahn, TX says:

      These are desperate and radical ideas that will not work. Since Medicare is already set up (which would save money), why not make it work? Cut the graft out for a start..Then make Medicade(again,all set up)better for those who cannot pay at all. Many community's have free clinic's, why not add a few more. Or insure for only serious illnesses, not scrapes and bruises

      But that would be the way a person familiar with the way to manage money and business would answer.

    3. Pingback: The Latest Senate Health Proposals: Radical and Desperate « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    4. Pingback: » Financial News Update - 07/15/09 NoisyRoom.net: Where liberty dwells, there is my country…

    5. Dave, San Diego says:

      Medicare is going broke. It's been underfunded over the years to the tune of $30 trillion. This is the best single sign that government will NOT be able to run an even more massive, national plan. Start asking some questions about what we've been told:

      http://healthcarequestions.wordpress.com/

    6. Pingback: Obama Will Destroy Healthcare: Videos to Share « Jim Blazsik

    7. Buzz NY says:

      The Democrats seem to be linking savings to the new proposal; why can't we just have the savings? Is this not quite an indictment of those that permit such waste to happen

    8. Pingback: Friday, July 17, 2009 — ExposeTheMedia.com

    9. Harry - Illinois says:

      Unless the President and the Politicians are willing to join in with the public plan, I suggest that we think twice about adopting a Public Plan. After all, if they don't think it's good enough for them than why should we believe that they have our best interest at heart. If it's not good enough for them, then it's certainly not good enough for us whether insured or not.

      I agree, the Status Quo may not be good enough any longer, but neither is a hastily prepared. partisan plan. If it takes over 1000 pages to draft a "comprehensive" plan, than it needs to be reviewed and agreed upon by all concerned. None of this 60 vote majority stuff. In my opinion, 1000 pages includes a lot of fine print that may not necessarily be applicable to the health care plan. Remember the $782 Billion Dollar Stimulas plan that had loads of pork?

      We need to adopt a private entity to administer and run this plan.

    10. Daniel, New Jersey says:

      While everyone seems (rightly) to be focusing on the unbearable excess cost and tax burden on our very weak economy of this massive and ill-advised legislation (God bless the CBO for maintaining their integrity), let's not forget that, central to this proposed legislation, is the complete phase-out of private insurance plans over five years (see pages 16 to 19 of the July 14 House Tricommittee bill, first link below; 2nd link is an org chart for the bill) and the gutting of Medicare BENEFITS (that's right, not just fraud and abuse) to the tune of $500 Billion, to pay for this legislation. See pp. 425-430 of the proposed bill; the elderly and frail better not trust the AARP to safeguard their interests anymore!

      http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/public

      http://www.cprights.org/House%20Dems%20Health%20P

      What every American MUST do before it's too late (remember the Cap-and-Trade House vote):

      1)Sign the National Center for Policy Analysis' petition at http://www.freeourhealthcarenow.com. Then, please forward the petition to your family and friends. Over 500,000 rational Americans have already done so – please help the NCPA reach its goal of 1 million signatures to be delivered shortly to the President and Congress.

      2)Call your Senators and Representative in Congress and state your opposition to the proposed legislation in the strongest but civil terms; fear of non-reelection can be a great motivator!

      http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information

      http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

      http://help.senate.gov/ (you can check their activity calendar here)

    11. John, Wisconsin says:

      I was surprised when I received a bulletin from AARP urging passage of this debacle. Their leadership has either been bought out by politicians or they merely want the promise (smoke and mirrors) of "free" care without taking into account the actual cost, not to mention the arbitrary decisions that could be made against the elderly by those projected to be placed in charge. Anyone with an ounce of common sense (brain) knows the plan is doomed from the start. I guess that leaves out most of our Senators and Congressmen.

    12. BIll, Illinois says:

      Daniel from NJ: NIce post and I have already sent my complaint via freeourhealthcarenow.com and everyone in my family, I also sent the url to all in my e-mail. I also sent emails to my rep in the senate and did say "Hey you work for me I do not work for you, I voted you in and I can vote you out." I recevied a response and man what double-talk of course I received my response for Dick Durban, need I say any more..But I do sign a lot of petitions on this matter and send emails what else can we do…good luck to us all. Thanks for the url's I will check them out.

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