Health Reform Bill: Mystery Solved
By Carolyn Cormey
In the end, it wasn't at all about health care. President Obama said it was about him and that this bill had to be passed to protect his Presidency. To this end, the captains of his legions dispensed bribes, threats, made unholy alliances, and willingly threw the careers of their own members under the bus. To this end the legislative process was warped, twisted, and finally put to death as this bill, controlling 17% of our US economy, was rammed through without a single Republican vote. No matter that the Democrats could not convince even one Republican. No matter that the Democrats could not convince the American public. They convinced the people most important to them; they convinced themselves that they knew best what we should have.
To take care of us and make medical decisions for us, the Democrats in Congress rammed through this bill that gives us The Medicare Advisory Commission, The Cost Effectiveness/Comparative Effectiveness Panel, and The US Preventive Taskforce that will decide on the health care we get, the health care we can have, who will give it to each of us and the conditions under which we can have certain health care procedures and medications. Wow!
Health Care for all? In their effort to provide health coverage to all (well not all), one of the major achievements of this bill is to raise the income levels to "qualify" more people into Medicaid! 16,000,000 (sixteen million) more people will now get their Medicaid cards, but join all the other members of Medicaid who cannot find a doctor to take care of them (and a shrinking number of pharmacies to fill their prescriptions) because Medicaid reimburses doctors only 75% of what they reimburse for Medicare and this legislation considers additional cuts to Medicaid/Doctor reimbursement cuts of around 11%.
Florida currently has the second highest number of Medicaid patients in the US. This legislation will now further explode the Florida Medicaid rolls! This bill provides us some money to start us off, but the responsibility for providing and paying for Medicaid is primarily the States and pretty soon Florida will have to find a way to get a lot more money to pay the bill. When our US Congress spends more money than they have, they simply borrow it from us, borrow it from other governments, they raise taxes, and they just print more money (which they have been doing a lot lately). Unlike the federal government, Florida cannot spend money they don't have. We have no state income tax so Florida will have to figure out other ways to pay the Medicaid Bill that will explode over the next few years. Florida will have to further cut expenditures to the bone, perhaps even cut vital services, perhaps cuts to education. Our cities and counties will feel the pinch and we may not get that property tax relief we have all been hoping for.
Is a State Income Tax the Answer? Expect our Florida Legislators to begin to pressure us for a state income tax. I lived in California when the voters reluctantly agreed to a state income tax "for the children, for education" and we all see how well that worked out for California. It is the nature of legislators to spend every single penny they can find, borrow, beg (or sometimes steal) and to financially obligate us to the full extent of the authority we give them, all "for our own good," of course. We see the state income tax pitch coming down the track, looking us square in the face as this health care legislation unfolds before our eyes the huge expense that it brings to our state.
The "fix" to the Senate Bill? On C-Span I watched the 20 hours of amendments and "debate" allowed by the twisted, warped, painful Reconciliation Process that was used to "fix" the Senate bill rammed through by the Democrat Leadership. The Reconciliation bill undid just a few of the more obvious bribes and kickbacks, the Nebraska "Corn Husker Kickback" and the Florida "Gator-Aid," a deal made behind closed doors with own Senator Bill Nelson, a deal that provided special Medicare Advantage protections to a few select counties in Southeast Florida (nope, not the counties on this side of the state). We each have between now and 2012 to decide why Senator Nelson made this deal. In the end, Senator Nelson voted for both the Senate Bill and the Reconciliation Bill that removed his "Gator-Aid," so pretty much as usual, Senator Nelson was a vote his leadership could count on.
In the Reconciliation Bill, whose purpose was to "fix" the things that were wrong in the Senate Bill that the House passed without voting on, Senator Nelson joined other Democrats (without a single Republican) in voting to nationalize student loans providing 19 million students with higher interest rates on their loans and the health care bill billions in additional funds. (Some thought it would be a better idea to give the benefit to the students, but that was not the vote that prevailed). Outside planet DC, many of us wonder what the government takeover of student loans has to do with Health Care Reform and we wonder why the doctor-fix for reimbursements was purposely left out of the Health Reform Legislation.
The double-count/double-cross? Throughout the last year Democrats have told us of all the savings that will be made in Medicare, stating that these savings will improve the quality of medical care we will receive. Republicans have continued to point out and have quoted the CBO, who has said on December 23, 2009 that you cannot provide resources to pay future Medicare benefits while simultaneously providing resources to pay for new programs outside Medicare. Democrats seem to have no problem ignoring the CBO and using the same dollars to pay for Medicare and the new Health Care Entitlement Program, while Republicans continue to say that we can only use these savings for one program or the other. In an effort to end the confusion the Republicans offered an amendment to make it a hard and fast commitment that Medicare savings in this bill would go to benefit and extend the solvency of Medicare. Senator Nelson and the other Democrats voted against this amendment and many other common sense amendments that would have made the bill much better.
Elections have consequences and Democrats have now passed their Health Reform Bill putting the Federal Government in control of our health care and in control of 17% of our US economy. The States will have to try to find the money to pay for all the new Medicaid patients and those of us on Medicare will have to live with the cuts in medical care that we will experience. Next up, before the November elections, we can expect those we elect to try to ram through immigration reform with amnesty, this time with the help of some Republicans we elected. Our legislators are home on break. You might want to visit their offices in your district to begin to talk with them about your concerns on adding 12 to 20 million more (illegal aliens on the pathway to citizenship) into our overstressed, broken health care systems.
Go to www.contactingthecongress.org to find DC and local contact information for those you elect.
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