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H.R. 3962: Health Care Reform the Pelosi Way – Highlights

Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi revealed the almost 2,000 page monstrosity of a health care bill from the House of Representatives.  I am not sure if our Congressmen will read it, but I knew I had to.

I spent nearly 8 hours speed-reading and trying to notate the critical sections of this incredibly-liberal health care reform bill.  I know it’s not final, but I felt that my readers needed to know what this thing was.  The high-points are  that there are:

  • 5 new taxes that total up to a %18.4 reduction of income for Americans.  I can’t even calculate the annual fee on insurance in Section 4375 because they didn’t define it
  • 31 new Federal programs and bureaucracies each with incomprehensible allocations from public funds
  • Specifically prohibits states from enacting tort reform by holding back Federal dollars if they enact medical liability limits
  • Serious increase in the amount of people covered by Medicaid without any new funding to cover (hello state and sales tax increases)
  • the bill will pay for abortions
  • Regulates the spending of private insurers but allows the government to spend whatever it wants
  • Has a government-run public option paid for by the multitude of taxes listed above
  • Only limits yearly out-of-pocket maximums to $10,000 for families.   This is higher than most average private insurance plans
  • Creates a $5 Billion pool to pay government option claims from your taxes…
  • Gives Power to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to enact waiting lists when government expenses get too high
  • Eliminates new enrollment in current private insurance options after the bill is enacted into law
  • Takes away the right of citizens to spend their own money on non-prescription drugs tax-free
  • Prevents Americans from saving for their own health care emergencies by capping FSAs at $2500/yr
  • Cuts Medicare by ~$500 Billion ($150 Billion+ of Medicare advantage cuts)
  • Prevents expansion of medicare advantage programs
  • Makes it easier to defraud Medicare
  • Forces more people onto State Medicare programs while reducing funding under the Medicare DSH program

The core issue with this bill is that it claims to be budget-neutral.  While I cannot prove that it is or is not, what I will do is explain why that’s not that great.  While the bill may be deficit neutral, the 31 new bureaucratic agencies and program that it creates are not cost-neutral.  This financial side of this plan is based on a principle equal to if you or I said, sure, we can buy that new house on the beach, we just need to bring in more money to pay for it.  We would have to get another job, get a raise, or forget the house.  The government is simply adding 5+ new taxes on us to pay for it.  Deficit neutral is not the same thing as cost-neutral.

I could tack on the fact that it gives the White House the power to create “waiting lists” if when costs go higher than they expect.  If Medicare were on the path that the original budget estimates set, it would be costing 1/35th of what it costs today.  The government can’t and hasn’t ever estimated anything even remotely close to its actual costs and it always misses on the low-side.  Why would this be different?

There are serious individual-liberty issues here.  HSAs (health savings accounts) will no-longer be allowed to be used for medicine unless a Doctor writes a prescription.  Owner’s of FSAs (Flexible Savings Accounts) will now be capped at a $2500/yr contribution.  Why?  These tools keep premiums down because FSA/HSA users are responsible citizens saving for their own health care needs.  So again why?  Because the government needs us to rely on them for more-and-more.

The grandfather clause will phase-out most existing health care plans as it does not allow insurers to enroll any new members into existing plans once the bill is enacted.  This will kill every-single existing private insurance product over time.  Insurers rely on a constantly-refreshing pool of insured persons to replenish those that leave.  If people are allowed to leave (and they should be), but no one is allowed to join those plans, they will starve and die.  You will not be allowed to keep your plan if you like it.  Or rather, you can keep it, but your insurer won’t be servicing it once this fiasco goes live.

Abortions are covered, Medicare will get cut (Medicare Advantage will probably cease to exist), and Medicare fraud will be easier to perpetrate due to relaxed asset/income proof requirements.

The few positive benefits to the plan are the closing of the Medicare “doughnut hole” and the push to train more physicians and nurses.   The rest of this thing is a disaster of epic proportions.  “Fire and brimstone, cats and dogs living together…”, but I digress.

This will not lower costs for health care.  When it doesn’t, they will continue to blame doctors, nurses, radiology technicians or perhaps hospital security guards.  They will find anyone but themselves to blame… and they caused this mess in the first place.

note: side-by-side comparison of health bills at:  health care reform bill comparison

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