Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bob Herbert is right:

He's against the Senate's version of the health care bill because the funding mechanism is (through the mechanism of a tax on "excessive" benefits) to make workers with employer-supplied health care pay more out of their own pocket. That's supposed to reduce health care costs:
Proponents say this is a terrific way to hold down health care costs. If policyholders have to pay more out of their own pockets, they will be more careful — that is to say, more reluctant — to access health services. On the other hand, people with very serious illnesses will be saddled with much higher out-of-pocket costs. And a reluctance to seek treatment for something that might seem relatively minor at first could well have terrible (and terribly expensive) consequences in the long run.
The Senate bill is in line with the Republican's preference for high deductibles and health-savings-accounts.

The Senate bill, if implemented will cut down on health care expenditures, but not costs. If cutting health care expenditures is the goal, then the obvious solution is to eliminate all health care support (from employers or the government) and let everybody pay what they can afford. Which for a lot of people will be zero, or not very much.

More from Herbert:
According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, less than 18 percent of the revenue [to pay for the national health care program] will come from the tax itself. The rest of the $150 billion, more than 82 percent of it, will come from the income taxes paid by workers who have been given pay raises by employers who will have voluntarily handed over the money they saved by offering their employees less valuable health insurance plans.
But will those employees even get a pay raise? (which would be taxed, thus reducing the net to the worker)

A survey of business executives by Mercer, a human resources consulting firm, found that only 16 percent of respondents said they would convert the savings from a reduction in health benefits into higher wages for employees. Yet proponents of the tax are holding steadfast to the belief that nearly all would do so.

“In the real world, companies cut costs and they pocket the money,” said Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America and a leader of the opposition to the tax. “Executives tell the shareholders: ‘Hey, higher profits without any revenue growth. Great!’ ”

The tax on health benefits is being sold to the public dishonestly as something that will affect only the rich, and it makes a mockery of President Obama’s repeated pledge that if you like the health coverage you have now, you can keep it.

Those who believe this is a good idea should at least have the courage to be straight about it with the American people.
As noted in a previous post, Jonathan Gruber of MIT, and apparent Democratic policy fave, likes the Senate bill.

The public option is dead. So are other things like Medicare buy-in. But there remains the peculiar Senate bill that doesn't "bend the curve" in any market/competitive way. It's a very Republican-policy approach to the problem: Let the individual shop around for health care - just like for apples at the county fair! - and the market will force profit margins to be thin. That's because (they falsely assert) health care is a standardized, low-information-required-to-assess product that, like cans of peas on the grocer's shelf - gives consumers the opportunity to set the price.


democrats promised nafta would create more, higher paying jobs for americans. was gruber singing a similar song about nafta back then?

By Anonymous omen, at 1/01/2010 11:44 PM  

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