Health Reform? -- It's Rot

Jackie Gingrich Cushman
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Posted: Aug 13, 2009 12:00 AM

More than half (53 percent) of U.S. voters oppose President Obama's health-care "reform" plan versus just 42 percent who favor it, according to a poll published Tuesday by Rasmussen Reports. And that support is trending down, falling "five points from two weeks ago and down eight points from six weeks ago," while opposition is up "nine points since late June."

Feelings regarding Obama's health-care plan run more passionately among opponents, with 44 percent strongly opposing, versus just 26 percent strongly in favor. While support breaks down along party lines with more Democrats in support and more Republicans in opposition, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of unaffiliated voters "oppose the health-care plan, and 51 percent are strongly opposed."

The heat is turning up on the proposal. It's August and hot -- especially in the South, where consecutive 90-degree days provide a steamy reminder of why the South might have been characterized as lazy prior to the invention of air conditioning. Let's just say the heat can make one lethargic, cranky and in need of an ice-cold Coca-Cola.

But instead of enjoying a relaxing summer break, our representatives and senators are returning home from Washington to find raucous town hall meetings held by constituents who are concerned about the proposed health-care changes. Their concerns have been growing, as support has been waning. Possibly this delay in opposition is due to the length of the proposals in the legislative bodies. Slogging through the 1,017 pages of H.R. 3200 took me the better part of a long day.

President Obama had a great point in his town hall meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., where he said Tuesday, "Where we do disagree let's disagree over things that are real."

So, what is real?

The House version introduced by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., is titled "American's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009." It would create a multitude of government agencies, task forces, inspectors and trust funds.

Here are just a few of those creations: a Health Choices Administration (a new independent agency in the executive branch of the government, headed by a health choices commissioner), a Health Benefits Advisory Committee, a Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund, a special inspector general for the Health Insurance Exchange, a Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research, a Public Health Workforce Corps, a Task Force on Clinical Preventive Services and a school-based Health Clinic Program.

While the plan has been titled "Affordable," and marketed as budget-neutral, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), noted in its July 17 letter to the House Ways and Means Committee that its estimated cost is more than $1,000,000,000,000 (that's 1 trillion dollars, or a million, million dollars) over 10 years (2010-2019). According to the CBO, this cost would be offset by savings in Medicare and by increasing "federal revenues by about $583 billion." There is only one way to increase federal revenues -- to increase taxes, which takes money out of your pocket and puts it in the government's coffers.

Instead of focusing on universal access to health care, this bill throws out a large trawl net that sweeps across an enormous area far beyond health-care access to include personal decisions and social structure.

For example, included in H.R. 3200: "The entity shall provide for culturally and linguistically appropriate communication and health services." It refers to ''shared decision making ... a collaborative process between patient and clinician that engages the patient in decision making, provides patients with information about trade-offs among treatment options, and facilitates the incorporation of patient preferences and values into the medical plan."

It notes nurse home-visitation services will be based upon evidence, that such services are effective in areas including, "increasing birth intervals between pregnancies. ... Increasing economic self-sufficiency, employment advancement, school-readiness, and educational achievement, or reducing dependence on public assistance.''

These excerpts show that the result will not simply be universal access, but universal intrusion by government.

I hope our representatives will understand, when they get back to Washington after their summer break, that we believe in health-care "reform," but the current proposal is a bunch of rot.

Right now, President Obama might be happy to share a Coke and a smile with supporters of his plan, but the number of people who fit this description is dwindling faster than ice melts in a glass on a hot Georgia day, and we still have more than half of August left.