Immediately, as the Senate takes up health care legislation, we receive the chief benefit of the proposal. Laughter is not only good for the soul, its good for the body, too.
If we cant laugh at the juxtaposition of the massive promises being made and the track record of our solons in Washington, well, were in for a long debate.
Now, Im certainly no expert on medicine or insurance — and, no, I havent read the 2,074-page legislation — but I am fairly confident that we can all rest easy knowing our representatives have read and studied it diligently on our behalf, right?
Still, as a lay person with a smidgen of common sense, I have been following the news, and have noticed several elements in the proposed reform legislation that seem odd.
One of the key Senate Democrats to jump late onto the bandwagon, as of yesterday supporting moving ahead with the debate, is Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. Of course, there is that little known provision in the bill that would hand $100 million to the state of Louisiana to help cover the costs of Medicaid. But Landrieu said that money was not the reason she was supporting the bill.
Heck, were talking a mere $100 million. Chicken feed. Who could be swayed by such a trivial sum?
Rest assured, Sen. Landrieu (as every congressperson) remains focused strictly on the bills merits. Though, she did add, I am not going to be defensive about asking for help in this situation. Im proud to have asked for it. Im proud to have fought for it. And I will continue to.
Yes, maam. Subsidy now! Subsidy forever!
No doubt, such subsidies are part of the cost-cutting, deficit-reducing, fiscally responsible heart of this measure. Too bad no one figured out years ago that covering millions of new people with health insurance would save so much money. The Senate bill is supposed to cover an additional 31 million folks, while reducing the deficit by $130 billion.
It seems strange that covering more folks would cost less, but who would doubt the leaders in our Congress?
Now, somehow, we need to find millions more people we can cover with medical insurance so that we can totally wipe out the federal deficit and have a giant surplus. Think big. For instance, maybe we can work a deal with China to insure their billion-plus population. The federal treasury would pour forth with riches. Then we wouldnt have to borrow so much money from those Beijing boys.
Of course, some of the savings derive from other elements in the bill. For instance, folks with Cadillac health plans will be taxed. And businesses that dont provide health coverage to employees will be fined. In the House version, individuals can be fined for failing to purchase an insurance policy to facilitate their right to health care.
Additionally, both the Senate legislation and the bill already passed in the House cut nearly half a trillion dollars from Medicare. Luckily, were told this wont diminish Medicare services at all. Not even one little bit.
That money will come from cutting all the absolute waste and fraud bulging throughout the system. Now do you see how important it is to have such waste and fraud, to nurture and grow it, so that in times like these we can cut it without actually hurting anyone, anywhere, at all?
Medicare costs have pushed the system into the red this year. To be financially responsible, Congress ordered double digit percentage reductions in what Medicare reimburses doctors for providing medical services. (Who needs these expensive physicians? Couldnt our congressmen perform the needed medical procedures? That would save even more money!)
But two weeks ago, the House turned about face to block their own reductions from taking effect. This means they are now spending $210 billion more on doctors to keep them on board the Medicare train. Why? Medicare has had a humungous problem with low reimbursement rates for physicians, which causes more and more doctors to refuse to take Medicare patients.
This $210 billion cost was wisely kept out of the overall financial calculations for the current reform legislation. Since in one fell swoop, this so-called doctor fix is $80 billion more in costs than the health care bill would save over the next ten years, lets just pay no mind to the doctors — behind that curtain — who may need to be paid in the future as well.
The main thing to concentrate on is that the cost of health care will go down while the quality and quantity of care will go up. Come to think of it, this should be done in every sector of our economy: Government must get involved. Why not simply mandate lower costs and better products?
Silly congressmen, just pass a law.