Get ready for mandated health insurance
posted at 11:30 am on November 12, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
Even before Barack Obama takes the reins in January, his party plans to start issuing health-insurance mandates to the American people — and pay for it with expanded entitlements. Max Baucus (D-MT) will introduce legislation that goes beyond Obama’s pledge to mandate coverage for all children, instead mandating that all adults also get insured. And if they can’t afford it? Well, Medicare is solvent, isn’t it?
Without waiting for President-elect Barack Obama, Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee, will unveil a detailed blueprint on Wednesday to guarantee health insurance for all Americans by facilitating sales of private insurance, expanding Medicaid and Medicare, and requiring most employers to provide or pay for health benefits.
Aides to Mr. Obama said they welcomed the Congressional efforts, had encouraged Congress to take the lead and still considered health care a top priority, despite the urgent need to address huge problems afflicting the economy. …
Mr. Baucus would create a nationwide marketplace, a “health insurance exchange,” where people could compare and buy insurance policies. The options would include private insurance policies and a new public plan similar to Medicare. Insurers could no longer deny coverage to people who had been sick. Congress would also limit insurers’ ability to charge higher premiums because of a person’s age or prior illness.
People would have a duty to obtain coverage when affordable options were available to all through employers or through the insurance exchange. This obligation “would be enforced, possibly through the tax system,” the plan says.
What could possibly go wrong with this scenario? For one thing, Medicare could collapse — and it’s about to do just that. In three years, Medicare will spend more than it gets in Part A (hospital coverage) premiums from Social Security, and this is just the beginning of the long twilight of the Baby Boomers. That will create a deficit in Medicare that will either have to be absorbed from the general fund or alleviated by cost reductions.
Instead of looking to restore some sort of stability to the already-failing Medicare structure, Baucus wants to hang more cost onto it. He doesn’t stop at Medicare, either. His program will put the same burden on states through Medicaid. That will create even more instability in benefit plans and force more public funds on that level to get spent on coverage.
The result? Taxes will go up at both the state and federal level across the nation, and it won’t just be the “rich” that feels the pinch. Tax rates will necessarily rise as deficit spending explodes. The dollar will weaken once again, thanks to the enormous debts that this will generate, and the capital needed to restore the economy will get lost in the monumental expansion of government control this will require. Baucus thinks that magically insuring people will eliminate costs, but it just transfers it instead to the least-efficient model: government bureaucracies.
Instead of reforming entitlements, the Democrats plan an expansion of them. The collapse will come quicker than anyone predicted. I guess that qualifies as “change”, and you’d better believe it’s coming.