The most revelatory passage in the so-called "plain English" version of the health care bill that the Senate Finance Committee approved on Tuesday (without ever drafting the actual legislative language) says that in the future Americans will be offered the convenience of getting their health insurance at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
This is no joke. If this bill becomes law, it will be the duty of the U.S. secretary of health and human services or the state governments overseeing federally mandated health-insurance exchanges to ensure that you can get your health insurance at the DMV.
You will also be able to get it at Social Security offices, hospitals, schools and "other offices" the government will name later.
Page 19 of the committee's "plain English" text says: "The Secretary and/or states would do the following: ... Enable customers to enroll in health care plans in local hospitals, schools, Departments of Motor Vehicles, local Social Security offices, and other offices designated by the state."
This is the bill's most revelatory passage because it sublimely symbolizes the bill's true aim: a government takeover of the health care system.
You do not get food at the DMV. You do not even get auto insurance at the DMV. But under what The Associated Press inaptly calls the Finance Committee's "middle-of-the-road health care plan," you will get health insurance at the DMV.
What will the DMV and health care have in common if this bill is enacted? Government will control both.
A couple of weeks ago, the Finance Committee voted down the public option -- a health insurance plan run directly by the government. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and all three House committees working on the bill had included the public option in their versions. So, the establishment media made much of the fact that the Finance Committee did not.
But the omission is almost meaningless.
The public option is only one lane on the road to socialized medicine. Government subsidies and government regulations are two others -- and they run like a super highway through the Finance Committee bill.
The bill orders all states to create an "exchange" where companies offering government-approved plans can sell health insurance. Americans earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level ($103,000 for a family of five) would be eligible for federal subsidies in the form of a refundable tax credit to buy health insurance -- but only if they buy one of the government-approved plans in the government-created exchange.
The government will not pay this subsidy to the individuals purchasing insurance. The U.S. Treasury will pay it directly to the government-approved insurance providers.
"The Treasury would pay the premium credit amount to the insurance plan in which the individual is enrolled," says the committee's "plain English" text.
Four different levels of insurance plans will be available in the exchange -- Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. But every year, the secretary of health and human services will determine what services need to be offered by these government-approved and government-funded plans.
"The Secretary of HHS," says the "plain English" text, "would be required to define and update the categories of covered treatments, items and services within the benefit classes no less than annually through a transparent and public process that allows for public input, including a public comment period."
Under this bill, the government commands individuals to secure insurance for themselves and their dependents. "In order to insure compliance, individuals would be required to report on their Federal tax return the months for which they maintain the required minimum health coverage for themselves and all dependents under age 18," says the text.
The government would enforce this mandate with a fine. "The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax of $750 per adult in the household," says the text.
The bill does not similarly order businesses to provide employees with health insurance. However, people who get insurance through their employer will not be eligible for the federal subsidies.
And here is the whip the government will use to drive most Americans into government-approved, government-subsidized, government-controlled health insurance: An employer that decides not to provide health insurance for its workers will be required to pay a fee to the government for each of its workers that receives a federal subsidy. But the total paid to the government by any employer will be capped at $400 times the total number of that employer's workers.
Even though this fee will not be tax deductible, it will be far cheaper for a business to pay the government $400 per worker than to pay a private insurance company thousands per worker for an insurance plan.
The Finance Committee has created an irresistible incentive for American businesses to drop their workers off at the DMV where they can enroll in government-funded, government-approved, government-regulated health insurance plans.