Top Ten “Fishy” Truths about a Government Takeover of Health Care

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Aug 13, 2009 3:37 PM
Rep. Mike Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, has released the "Top Ten 'Fishy' Truths about a Government Takeover of Health Care. 

They are as follows ...

Truth #1:  Abolishes the Private Market for Individual Health Insurance

What the bill does:  Section 102(c) of the bill states that after 2013, “individual health insurance coverage…may only be offered” through the government-run Exchanges established in the bill.

What this means for Americans:  Purchasing private individual coverage will be outlawed.  Individuals will likely have fewer, and more expensive, coverage options—a “Hobson’s choice” allowing Americans to choose any plan they like, so long as it’s the “bureaucrat-approved” one.

Truth #2:  Federal Grants to Care for Pets; Federal Debt for People

What the bill does:  Section 2231 of the bill creates a new Public Health Workforce Corps, complete with its own scholarship program.  Among those eligible for scholarships—which include “tuition, fees, books, equipment, and laboratory expenses,” as well as a stipend that could exceed $15,000 per year—are individuals studying at “an accredited graduate school or program of…veterinary medicine.”  Veterinary students are also eligible for loan forgiveness of up to $35,000 annually through the Public Health Workforce Corps.

What this means for Americans:  At a time when this year’s annual budget deficit could top $2 trillion, the federal government will spend additional money it does not have to train veterinarians to care for pets—even as the Democrat health “reform” legislation would still leave 17 million Americans uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Truth #3:  Federal Bureaucrats Will Teach Americans How to Write in “Plain Language” [# More #]

What the bill does:  Section 133 of the bill requires certain disclosures to be made in “plain language,” which the bill defines as “language that the intended audience…can readily understand and use because that language is clean, concise, [and] well-organized.”  The section further directs the Health Choices Commissioner—the new insurance “czar”—to “develop and issue guidance on best practices of plain language writing.”

What this means for Americans:  At a time when this year’s annual budget deficit could top $2 trillion, the federal government will spend additional money it does not have so that federal bureaucrats can enlighten Americans on how to write in “plain language.”  Moreover, given Democrats’ creation of a 1,018-page bill replete with bureaucratic jargon, some may view the development of such guidelines as an exercise in futility.

Truth #4:  Democrats Want to Do to Health Care What Fannie and Freddie Did to the Housing Market

What the bill does:  An amendment adopted in the Energy and Commerce Committee authorized up to $5 billion in federal spending for grants and loans to establish health insurance cooperatives.  The amendment included no language prohibiting such cooperatives from returning to the federal government for a bailout in the event that they cannot survive without additional taxpayer subsidies.

What this means for Americans:  The co-op proposals being discussed could result in Congress creating another government-sponsored enterprise that would be “too big to fail” and could in time require another federal bailout.  Therefore, Americans may be concerned that a co-op could do for health care what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have done for the housing sector.

Truth #5:  Yet Another Taxpayer-Funded Giveaway to ACORN?

What the bill does:  Section 205 of the bill allows the Health Choices Commissioner—the new insurance “czar”—to use “appropriate entities…to inform and educate individuals and employers about the Health Insurance Exchange.”  The bill includes no definition of “appropriate entities,” allowing the Administration wide latitude to determine the entities with which it will conduct outreach activities.

What this means for Americans:  The American people could see additional taxpayer dollars going to so-called community activist organizations like ACORN.

Truth #6:  The Federal Government Will Collect Personal Health Care Data

What the bill does:  Section 221(e) of the bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to “collect such data as may be required to establish premiums and payment rates for the public health insurance option and for other purposes.”

What this means for Americans:  The American people could see their personal health records and other data being used by the federal government in order to establish a government-run health plan that will cause as many as 114 million Americans to lose their current coverage.

Truth #7:  A Giveaway to Trial Lawyers

What the bill does:  Section 153 of the bill establishes whistleblower protections for any employee who “provided, caused to be provided, or is about to provide or cause to be provided” a complaint regarding non-compliance with the bill’s provisions, or “objected to, or refused to participate in, any activity, policy, practice, or assigned task that the employee…reasonably believed” to violate the bill’s provisions.  Individuals alleging discrimination may bring suit under the provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Act.

What this means for Americans:  Employers will be subjected to additional lawsuits instigated by trial lawyers—possibly on the basis that an employee was “about to provide” a health insurance-related complaint at the time the business took an adverse employment action.

Truth #8:  Federal Compliance Audits on Employers—Paid for by Employers

What the bill does:  Section 142(b) of the bill requires the Health Choices Commissioner—the new insurance “czar”—to “conduct compliance audits of qualified health benefits plan compliance with Federal requirements,” including “random compliance audits and targeted audits in response to complaints.”  The bill further permits the Commissioner “to recoup from qualified health benefits plans reimbursement for the cost of such examinations.”

What this means for Americans:  Employers who offer coverage to their employees—will be subject to random audits by the insurance “czar,” who can scrutinize their paperwork looking for even inadvertent errors—and then leave the employer with the bill for the investigation.  As a result, employers may spend their time wondering if a complaint by a disgruntled worker could lead to a knock on the door by the “health care czar”—and even a dismissed complaint could lead to a charge by the federal government for the “privilege” of being cleared.

Truth #9:  Taxes on Health Benefits

What the bill does:  Section 1802(b) of the bill includes provisions that would finance a new Comparative Effectiveness Research Trust Fund.  The bottom of page 835 of the bill makes clear the funding source: CHAPTER 34—TAXES ON CERTAIN INSURANCE POLICIES.”

What this means for Americans:  The American people will see their health insurance taxed for the first time ever, breaking two central campaign promises made by then-Senator Obama—not to raise taxes for individuals with incomes under $250,000, and not to tax individuals’ health benefits.  The language also breaks a promise by Speaker Pelosi that, “We will not be taxing [health] benefits in any bill that passes the House.”

Truth #10:  Taxpayer-Funded Research Could Deny Patients Needed Health Care

What the bill does:  Section 1401 of the bill establishes a new multi-billion dollar Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research, so that the federal government can compare various health care treatments.  However, the bill contains no prohibitions on government-run health programs using such research to deny patients access to life-saving treatments, and a draft House Committee report earlier this year noted that such research funding meant that “more expensive [treatments] will no longer be prescribed.”

What this means for Americans:  The billions in federal taxpayer dollars spent on comparative effectiveness research could be used by federal health programs to deny patients access to life-saving treatments.