The Senate Finance Committee has issued a set of "talking points" about why the so-called America's Health Future Act is good for you. Missing is any straight talk about how the bill drives up health care spending, rations care and will force people to wait longer for less time with fewer doctors. Call it the Senate Finance Committee's "Snowe Job."
Eight Things to Know about the America's Healthy Future Act (amended for honesty and accuracy):
1. Individuals and employers who are satisfied with their current health insurance coverage can keep it and would not be required to change health plans. (For five years. And then individuals and employers -- note, not employees -- would be forced to buy health plans through exchanges that cost up to three times as much as their previous coverage with benefits they may not want or use. Poor and working class people will have no choice but Medicaid, which will double in size even as physician pay is cut. Good luck trying to keep your own doctor in either case unless you pay cash.)
2. No American can be denied health insurance or charged more because of a pre-existing health condition. (But since Americans who are and stay healthy will subsidize those of us who get sick and enroll only when they are seriously ill, the costs of coverage will increase or care will be rationed. Probably both. And Americans with pre-existing conditions will be denied coverage of drugs or tests and be forced to wait to see specialists as health plans, under the threat of a public option trigger, will cut access to care that the Obama administration regards as unnecessary.)
3. Health insurance companies will not be able to discriminate on the basis of gender or health status -- so insurance companies can't charge more for women or Americans who are sick. (See above. This is pay for performance in reverse.)
4. Health insurance companies will no longer receive tax deductions if they give their executives excessive salaries and compensation. (And this improves health care access and quality how?)
5. Members of Congress will be required to buy their health insurance through the same exchanges that people in their own states will use, instead of having a separate Congressional health plan. (Yes, but Members of Congress will have their insurance deeply subsidized.)
6. Health insurance companies will no longer be able to limit how much coverage you can use over your lifetime or how many benefits you can use each year. (Sounds good. But remember the government will be making those decisions from here on in. What benefits you use and how much will be decided by a Quality Czar who will issue reimbursement and coverage decisions for health exchanges based on what bureaucrats believe is cost effective. That's rationing.)
7. The bill specifically says there will be no Medicare benefit cuts for individuals. In fact, it strengthens Medicare's finances so the program can continue to provide benefits for years to come. (Nice try. The bill specifically cuts Medicare Advantage, the fastest growing program for the most chronically ill seniors. Score a big one for AARP which, in exchange for shilling for Obamacare, will reap billions as seniors dumped from Advantage have to buy supplemental coverage for what the shuttered program used to pay for. It specifically reduces what doctors will get under Medicare. It specifically seeks to reduce how much doctors do based not on how sick people are -- see the similar contradiction in point 6 -- but on the lowest amount of care given per person regardless of burden of disease. And it micromanages the decision of whether to pay for new technologies to assure that fewer people get innovations more slowly. Maybe it's not a cut, but it is denial of care.
8. Low-and middle-income seniors will get 50 percent of their drug costs paid for when they reach the so-called doughnut hole in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, where no coverage is provided today. (And what drugs they get will be determined by a government panel that will increasingly delay access to new drugs based on price alone and without regard to individual differences.)
As health care costs and premiums go up, as they will, government bureaucrats will pull the public option "trigger." Price controls and bigger government run health plans -- the public option -- will follow.
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