Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Continuing Senate DemCare Battle

We've got tons of updates for the current Senate wrangling over DemCare. Dig in!

As the debate continues, Barack Obama once again violated his campaign pledge not to allow federal taxpayer funding of abortions:

President Barack Obama told the American people in a national speech in September that “my” health care plan would not include taxpayer funding of abortion. Obama broke that pledge once by lobbying members of the House to support a pro-abortion funding bill and he did it again this weekend in the Senate.

Obama met with Senate Democrats in a closed door session on Sunday and told them to support the Harry Reid-sponsored bill that includes massive abortion funding and could force insurance companies to cover abortions with taxpayer’s premiums.

No surprise, of course, but it's still demonstrative of the Left's continuation of the culture of death.

Remember how the Obama administration recommended that women back off their mammograms? After catching hell for the mind-bogglingly stupid recommendation, Sec. Sebelius offered a half-hearted 'well, we won't actually enforce that recommendation' apology. Unfortunately, not everyone seemed to have gotten the message, and California ended mammogram subsidies for women under age 50:
"More than 50 percent of the women we give breast exams and mammograms to are in their 40s," Riley said. "The majority of our current breast cancer survivors are women in their 40s."

The state's decision, announced Dec. 1 and effective Jan. 1, follows a controversial federal recommendation last month that mammograms before the age of 50 are generally not needed.

However, the public health department also linked the change to California's budget woes.

Um, hello? This is rationing, isn't it? Is anyone seeing how this might possibly be an indicator of what will happen when the government provides all health care coverage? It's a hard conclusion to escape.

The reality is that there's always rationing. If we understand that no one gets everything they want whenever they want it in any quantity they want, then there's always rationing. It's common sense, really. The true question is: who does the rationing? Is it you, based on how important a medical treatment is compared to its cost? Is it an insurance company, based on the desire to turn a profit while providing the highest quality care for the most number of people? Or is it a faceless government that cares nothing for cost or efficiency (or you) and fails in just about everything they do? Here's an example:
In the open market, mammograms are about $100. (Source.) So one might ask how to solve the question: If a mammogram saves a life one time in 1,904 procedures, it would be rational for you to spend $100 on one if you valued your life at $190,400. Given that most statistical value of a life calculations are measured in millions (Dept. of Transportation example, article in Regulation) this means that the rational person under the age of 50 will pay for the procedure herself, if someone else does not pay for it.
So, if you just got a mammogram last week and everything came up rosy, would you pay another $100 to get one this week? Under DemCare, the taxpayers would be forced to foot the bill for it, but if we make people pay for this out of pocket, they'll probably save their money (self-rationing). That's how the free market works.

So what's currently going on with DemCare? I'm glad you asked that question!

Democrats have now voted to cut $43 billion from home health care. And remember, DemCare relies on cutting around $500 billion from Medicare. Better hope you never get old, because it's going to be miserable for you!

We talked previously about the new tax on cosmetic surgery, but here's a bit more detail. The implication is that this will only hurt rich people getting frivolous tummy tucks and breast implants, right? Not true:
...according to the American Society for Plastic Surgeons, between 1992 and 2005, annual U.S. cosmetic surgery volume increased by 725 percent, with over $10 billion spent in 2005.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey or Hollywood, however, did not fuel most of that increase. Ninety percent of the growth came from women making less than $70,000 a year. In general they were paying for less expensive non-surgical procedures such as skin rejuvenation, scar removal, laser procedures made more affordable by payment plans, aggressive discounting, and lower prices. While many procedures are called "cosmetic," that is because insurance simply does not pay for them. It just means people have to pay for them. In fact, the most often cited reasons for having a procedure done were self-confidence, addressing a scar, or feature that caused shame or an effort to improve job prospects.

New Jersey tried taxing this kind of cosmetic surgery and found that people -- SHOCK -- went to New York or Pennsylvania to save money by avoiding that tax. Looky there, the free market at work...

The polls show that only 27% of Americans support a single-payer system where the government provides coverage to everyone, with a full 62% opposing.

Being stuck between one group of Dems who won't vote for a bill with government control and another group of Dems who won't vote for a bill without government control, the leadership is scrambling for a new plan. They finally came up with one, but it isn't likely to go over well, either:

Senate Democratic liberals are seeking expansion of two large federal programs, Medicare and Medicaid, in exchange for dropping a government-sold insurance option from health care legislation sought by President Barack Obama, several lawmakers said Monday.

Under the potential trade-off with party moderates, near-retirees beginning at age 55 or 60 who lack affordable insurance would be permitted to purchase coverage under Medicare, which generally provides medical care beginning at 65. Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor, would be open to all comers under 300 percent of poverty, or slightly over $66,000 for a family of four

The closed-door talks have proceeded while Republicans on the Senate floor have mounted a series of politically charged challenges to the health care bill. Whatever the long-term political impact, they so far they have failed to win any major changes.

Okay, so let's enact Medicare (which is horrendously bankrupt) and Medicaid (which is generally considered to be substandard) for everyone. Great idea. So great, in fact, that the CEO of Johns Hopkins Medical says it will have 'catastrophic effects' on the American health care system.

But how's the GOP doing in this debate? It depends on who you ask:
is the GOP taking pressure off the Dems by allowing votes on amendments, or helping to fix the bill? Senior GOP Senate staffers tell NRO’s Robert Costa:

No way… “The idea is to make Democrats walk through glass everyday until the final vote on this puppy,” says one. “Make them take the kinds of stands that will be tough to explain to the media today — and to their constituents come election time. McCain’s Medicare amendment is the perfect example of that.”

Bloggers at RedState disagree:

Top GOP leaders have mistakenly convinced themselves that the key to defeating the bill is to process a number of Republican “messaging” amendments while letting Democrats offer whatever amendments are necessary to buy 60 votes.

There are three fatal problems with this strategy: 1) leadership insists on pushing its own too-clever-by-half “message” instead of listening to the clear message faxed, e-mailed and phoned to every elected official in Washington (”KILL THE BILL!”), 2) as evidenced by the articles above, the current “messaging strategy” is an abysmal failure, and 3) by allowing amendments to be processed at no cost to the majority party, GOP leaders are merely greasing the skids for government-run health care.

If I had to pick a side, I'd go with the RedStaters. I just don't see enough killer amendments and strong stands that would prove fatal to the bill. It's one thing to improve a bad bill; this bill is so horrific that it isn't salvageable by any amount of amendments. I sincerely hope the GOP is simply playing a strategy that isn't yet apparent...but I'm not holding my breath.

Here's the remaining path of DemCare, in case you want to know the steps that are left:
Fullscreen capture 1272009 32114 PM

In the final icing on the insulting cake Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid make an incredibly insulting statement today, showing just how desperate he's getting:

I guess Reid is saying that most of the country is nothing more than a bunch of slave owners, isn't he? Of course, the catch that he didn't mention is that those who wanted to oppose civil rights way back then were actually...Democrats. One of the primary reasons for the Republican party coming into being was to free the slaves and provide civil rights for all Americans.

I think the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has it right when he says this:

Sure, go ahead and make history. Lots of people make history...that doesn't necessarily make it a good thing.

There's my two cents.

Related Reading:
Abortion is a 'God-given right'
One "compelling story" about health care Obama doesn't want you to hear

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