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  • The Baucus Bill Spending Vortex

    The House and Senate are clearly divided over how to pay for the massive new spending commitments the federal government is taking on.

    Right now, House and Senate Democrats are meeting behind closed doors to figure out who they will tax and how much they can cut Medicare to meet what will be at least a $1 trillion commitment in new spending. Assuming for just the moment that they can make them match, Congress should look to the example of what Medicaid has done to state budgets.

    Medicaid Mess. The commitment to Medicaid has become so large, it acts like a vortex, drawing everything else into itself. Congress should stop and take a good look at what happened to state budgets this past year. The extra federal matching rates for Medicaid came with strings attached—Medicaid eligibility could not be cut. But states still cut Medicaid providers. Medicaid was perhaps spared but that only meant cuts had to be found elsewhere to keep state budgets in balance. Medicaid was protected, but education, public health, mental health services, social services, child welfare programs, and public safety were cut.

    Budget Gimmicks. It is understandable the President and Congressional leaders focus on what will be gained, as any politicians do to gain support for their initiatives. But there is also a time to ask, what will be lost? A trillion dollars in new spending and new revenues leave the federal government with very little margin to deal with the public health risks of a pandemic, rising unemployment, another Katrina, another crisis in world. Health care will spend real money and still rely on a lot of budget gimmicks. For example, Finance simply delayed the start of benefits and refused to fix the Medicare physician fee schedule.

    Higher Family Spending. Yes, some families will get $16,500 in tax free benefits for health care under the Finance Committee version. But that money is going to come from someone else. And, under the Finance Committee plan, there will still be 25 million Americans uninsured. Many individuals and families will end up paying much more for their health care than they do today. Forget Obama’s promise of the $2500 annual reduction in family health costs.

    The federal government is going to raise taxes to pay its new bill. What are families going to do? Clearly, they will have to cut costs elsewhere in their budget. Cutting Medicare payments and benefits to pay for new spending will help avoid going further into hock in regards to the federal budget, but those proposals do nothing to help family budgets.

    Americans want solutions to the problems we face in the current system including the issue of the uninsured. But the legislation moving through Congress fails to meet the promise made by President Obama and what Americans as a whole want most of all—to lower the cost of health care for everyone. Failure to accomplish that now means the upheaval of our entire health care system at the cost of everything else.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to The Baucus Bill Spending Vortex

    1. terry gorman, Lincol says:

      I'd really like to know if the $826 billion includes the budget breaking costs of document translation services and interpeter services that will be required in Sections 144, 204, 1222 and 1224. Does anyone out there have the answer? Clinton's Exec. Order 13166 comes to mind.Bush refused to overturn it. Unfortunately for America they all seem to have the AGENDA.

    2. Jeanine, Illinois says:

      Start to defund Medicare – dumb it down to the point where it looks more like the government option – then it will be easier to delete it and the citizen can more easily transition to the mediochre care provided by our government. Sounds like a good plan.

    3. james, Los Angeles says:

      The CBO report on the Senate Finance Committee Bill is based on a bunch of budget gimmicks. For example, it assumes that the States, which are all in deep financial trouble, can take on even greater unfunded mandates in the form of more Medicaid patients. Senator Reid knows his State Nevada cannot afford the unfunded mandates called for in the bill and has already opted his State out from under them. Other States will follow. Another assumption by the CBO is that enormous cuts, over 500 billion, can be made to Medicare to help pay for another big government program ignoring the fact that Medicare is already near bankrupt. So when people say there are death panels in the bill, that is exactly what will happen to Seniors if the cuts to Medicare are carried out as mandated in the Senate Finance bill. Seniors will be screaming their heads off about these cuts so think again if the government can pull this one off. Then there is the taxes on the so called Cadillac Insurance plans which are mostly negotiated union plans. Unions are already protesting these taxes so guess how long these taxes will stay in the bill? So there you have it. None of the ways of funding health care reform are actually feasible as they call for higher taxes, unfunded Medicaid mandates that the States can't afford and enormous cuts to Medicare which Seniors will raise hell about. Any Senator on the Finance Committee voting for this bill (which is full of a bunch of budget gimmicks) should be fired. Come to think of it, even Madoff must be admiring how the good Senators are trying to con the public into thinking the bill will actually reduce the deficit, reduce the cost of health care and increase the quality of care when the exact opposite is true. The whole Health Care Reform bill is just a scam whose sole purpose is to try and con more tax payer dollars out of the people.

    4. Al, The Villages, Fl says:

      I will continue to demand that my state government refuse to take on any more unfunded federal mandates.

    5. Pingback: Morning Bell: Obamacare Invades Your Wallet | Fix Health Care Policy

    6. DAN MOFFATT says:

      "THE DIE IS CAST"THE BAUCUS INFLUENCE IS NOW ON ITS WAY TO A TRILLION DOLLAR LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE AMERICAN MISINFORMED,NONINFORMED AND NON DESERVING PUBLIC.WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF A TRAITOROUS OLYMPIA SNOWE,THE PUBLIC IS IN FOR A TRAIN RIDE OF A LIFETIME.THIS CRUEL DESTRUCTION OF SOME BASIC INTELLIGENCE,WILL BRING TO A HALT AMERICAN INFLUENCE IN OUR LAST BASTION OF DOMINANCE IN THE WORLD.WE,WILL FIGHT THIS TAKEOVER ALONE.HOWEVER,THE COST WILL BE EXTREME TO ALL AMERICANS.THESE STALWARTS OF CONGRESS SHOULD BE TARRED AND FEATHERED.AT THE VERY LEAST THEY ,SHOULD ALL BE VOTED OUT IN 2010.I,FOR ONE WILL VOTE FOR ALL NEW ENTRANTS ONTO THE PUBLIC SCENE,THEY CERTAINLY COULDN'T SCREW UP AMERICA ANY MORE THEN THE PRESENT POPULATION OF BOTH HOUSES.THEY WILL BE FORGOTTEN FOR THEIR MISDEEDS.

    7. Jerry from Chicago says:

      Regardless of the popular outcry against national health care, there aren't the votes in the House and Senate to stop it from passage.

      Our only hope is that we can change the makeup of the House and Senate in 2010 and try to nullify this legislation before it can be made effective.

    8. Ben C, Ann Arbor, MI says:

      I have been to Australia five times on business trips over the years. This country, while far from ideal, is looking more inviting by the day.

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