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Friday, October 16, 2009

Small Biz Health Care Daily: Democrats Negotiating How Best to Make Health Bill Worse

Just in case you were wondering, Senate and House Democrats are hard at work negotiating among themselves how to, in effect, take the bad health care reform measure passed by the Finance Committee and make it even worse.

The Wall Street Journal reported the following today:

• “One option: further widening eligibility for Medicaid, said people familiar with the closed-door negotiations. The original House bill would have made more than 10 million Americans newly eligible for the federal-state health-insurance program. Now, House Democratic leaders are considering covering an additional six million, by letting people with income up to 150% of the federal poverty line enroll in Medicaid.”

• “Several issues remain to be worked out, including whether the legislation should create a new government-run health plan to compete with private insurers. With liberal and moderate Democrats split on the issue, Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.) is floating a potential compromise that would give states the option of experimenting with their own government plans, without mandating a national program. Other lawmakers suggest a national public plan could be a fallback if other provisions in the legislation don't expand coverage as planned.”

In effect, Senate Democrats, along with leaders in the House, are trying to figure out how to pay for putting more and more people on the government health care dole. The costs of the Senate Finance bill already will be astronomical – hitting individuals, businesses, insurers, drug makers and medical device manufacturers, for example, with higher taxes. Pushing more people into Medicaid – a government program riddled with fraud, waste, and skyrocketing costs – would only mean even higher taxes.

And, of course, the so-called “public option” -- whether fully established at the outset, run by states, or set up as some kind of back up -- would be just another government-run health care program ready to succumb to what all previous government health care programs have succumbed to, that is, runaway costs and poorer health care.

Raymond J. Keating
Chief Economist
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

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