Friday, February 19, 2010

The Terminator Zombie


Beware...the rumors of using reconciliation to pass DemCare are creeping closer to becoming reality:

Greg Sargent reports that the Democrats are nearing a final deal on health care, which would give them a completed bill to bring to the table of the Feb. 25 "summit" — the purpose of which is ostensibly to hear new ideas.

Sargent says the sticking points are tweaks to the "Cadillac Tax":

The House wants the threshold tweaked to make it more palatable to Dem members who oppose it. Some Senators adamantly oppose this. But the leadership is discussing various tweaks that could work.

Crucially, the House leadership may sign on to the compromise even without a tweak to the Cadillac tax, according to a senior leadership aide. That’s because the compromise is not going to be voted on — it’s merely to create something to take to the summit. So this logjam may still get resolved in time.

Sargent also says Senate Democrats are coming around on reconciliation:

“We’re getting closer,” the Senate aide says of reconciliation, adding that the leadership is more likely to pursue that course if the summit doesn’t yield any kind of compromise with Republicans, as expected. “People want to get rid of health care. They want it off the agenda. The simplest answer is that reconciliation may be the most expedient way to do it.”

And the American people be damned, saith the Democrats.

For a refresher on how the reconciliation process would work, what it is intended to do, and how the Dems would be completely abusing the process to pass DemCare this way, check out these links:

Health care nuclear option - liberals get ready to launch
Reconciliation and ObamaCare a 'bad mix'
The ObamaCare nuclear option

As Minority Leader Mitch McConnell put it:
“Using reconciliation would be an acknowledgment that there is bipartisan opposition to their bill, another in a series of backroom deals, and the clearest signal yet that they've decided to completely ignore the American people.”
What's interesting is that the Dem leadership is constructing this legislation in secret; not even all Democrats have seen what will be in the final bill. Obama has invited Republicans to a 'bipartisan' summit to discuss health care reform, but everyone knows it's nothing more than a dog-and-pony show designed to make the Republicans look obstructionist. That could backfire because most of the country wants obstruction on this legislation. Consider the overwhelming opposition to DemCare that has been measured time and time again for the past year. Consider also that few Americans would support insuring everyone if it meant having to pay for it out of their own pockets via tax increases. The GOP is on extremely solid political footing if they stand fast...but the GOP in Washington has a mere fraction of the spine as the GOP base throughout the rest of the country, so it's hard to predict what they'll do.

Still, the GOP has pledged not to show if Obama isn't actually willing to compromise (which he isn't). Will they have the spine to follow through? I sincerely hope so; there is nothing to be gained by showing up to this summit because Obama has already said that he expects the GOP to roll over and accept his version of DemCare.

As a perfect example of what the nation as a whole faces if DemCare is passed into law, look at California:

Anthem Blue Cross, the California subsidiary of Wellpoint, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, recently announced steep premium increases for its individual (i.e., not employment-based) insurance customers. The political response to these premium increases – of up to 39% for almost 700,000 customers – was swift and blunt. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ordered a federal investigation into how Anthem could “justify” the increases, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) scheduled a hearing, launched a petition drive, and President Obama himself jumped at the opportunity to claim this as justification for the Democrat health reform effort, calling it “a portrait of the future if we don’t do something now.” Today, HHS released a report citing similar premium increases in several other states.

On the contrary – it’s a portrait of the future for the entire United States if either the House or Senate Democrats’ health bill becomes law. The Wall Street Journal points out that while Wellpoint as a whole is profitable, it has been losing money in this particular market, and these steep premium increases are the direct result of California’s state insurance regulations. Regulations require that insurance companies offer individual “conversion policies” to former employees who have exhausted their COBRA continuation coverage rights. This may be a good idea in principle, but California takes it a step further and sets the premiums to be charged for such coverage by statute. And, since those electing to take advantage of this option are disproportionately those with higher than average health care costs (often due to pre-existing conditions), the statutory rates aren’t sufficient to cover the costs of providing care for those patients. To stay in business – and indeed, to meet financial solvency regulations also imposed by the state – insurance companies have to get the money someplace, and the only place left is to increase premiums for customers not covered by the statute. Essentially, several of California’s regulations have combined to, in effect, require these steep premium increases.

California’s regulations are much less extreme versions of the regulations imposed by both the Democrat health care reform bills – the one that passed the House on November 7 and the one that passed the Senate on December 24. The House bill would direct a newly-created bureaucracy to determine what services insurance must cover, and directs that the Commissioner of that bureaucracy “shall deny excessive premiums or premium increases,” without defining “excessive” and in particular, without regard to whether premiums not deemed “excessive” are enough to allow insurers to pay for the required benefits. The Senate bill would also direct bureaucracy to determine what services insurance must cover, but would impose a complicated system of taxes and “medical loss ratio” requirements that could combine to force insurance plans to pay out more in taxes and claims than they take in in premiums.

Both bills would also require insurers to sell health plans to all comers at prices fixed without regard to their health history. Therefore, healthy people would have an incentive to forego insurance and pay the tax penalty – which would be less than the price of the health plan – knowing they could enroll in a health plan whenever they “need” it. The result would be that almost everyone in the insurance pool would have substantial health care needs, spreading the cost of health care over a much smaller insured population. That would produce very steep premium increases nationwide – no doubt much higher than the increases Anthem Blue Cross has been forced to impose in California.

The recent premium increases in California may indeed be it “a portrait of the future”—a scaled-down portrait of the future under Obamacare.

But these radical Leftist liberals are going to do what they must to make it happen. They understand that control of health care is control of the American people, and they seem more than willing to immolate themselves on the alter of DemCare for the sake of the cause. Will the GOP wake up to this suicidal willingness and fight like there is no tomorrow? It's up to us to force that awareness.

Prepare yourself. It won't be long before we'll need to melt the phone lines to Washington again.

There's my two cents.

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