Health-care industry leaders shocked to find ObamaCare costs

The Washington Post reports on the oh-so-predictable disillusionment of the major players in the health-care industry over the direction of ObamaCare, especially over promises broken by a White House that has steadfastly refused to lead after suckering them into giveaways. The list of the disillusioned includes the AMA, which recently endorsed the ObamaCare concept, and hospital executives, who thought they’d end up with extra cash for caving. Suddenly, facing a massive array of new taxes on devices and new efforts to extend penalizing “fees”, these major players are shocked,shocked to find themselves dealing with class warriors (via Hugh Hewitt):

The industry heavyweights President Obama neutralized through the summer are agitating that the health-care bills in Congress violate agreements they made with the White House, leave 25 million Americans uninsured and have the potential to increase medical costs.

One day after Democrats celebrated the news that a bill drafted in the Senate Finance Committee would not increase the deficit, the prospects for speedy enactment of landmark reform grew murkier. Industry leaders, who have held their tongues for months, spoke in increasingly dire tones Thursday about the impact of the Democratic proposals, raising the specter of an eleventh-hour lobbying campaign to defeat Obama’s centerpiece domestic policy goal.

Many lobbyists and independent analysts underlined what they called major flaws in the Finance Committee’s bill, saying it probably would draw the sickest, most expensive patients into the health coverage system without balancing the insurance risk with more young, healthy people. The result, they predicted, would be ever-rising premiums for the people, businesses and governments that pay for medical care. …

The American Medical Association is concerned because the 10-year $829 billion cost of the Senate bill does not include $200 billion in promised higher Medicare payments.

Hospital executives, meanwhile, complained that the legislation would leave 25 million people without coverage in 2019. The uninsured place a high burden on hospitals, which are required by law to treat everyone who arrives at an emergency department, regardless of citizenship or ability to pay. Those costs result in debt for hospitals and higher fees for people with insurance.

Not only have the higher Medicare rates disappeared — sacrificed to keep the Baucus plan from hammering the deficit — these providers face massively higher costs, thanks to the device tax Baucus plans to impose.  They can’t recover all of the new costs if Medicare payments remain at their current level, and pegging the public option payment schedule to Medicare will make this worse, once the Senate adds that option back into the proposal.  Suddenly, all of that cash that encouraged these industry leaders to back the reform effort has dissipated, and Congress wants more concessions from an already-strapped industry.

It has never been clear why they trusted Democrats in the first place.  The Obama administration has yet to engage at all in building the legislation for its own policies, including the stimulus and the cap-and-trade system that also topped Obama’s list of priorities.  These organizations cut deals with the wrong people.  Obama has exercised no leadership on health care, and Democrats in the Senate and House feel no particular reason to honor Obama’s commitments.

They have spent the summer, Obama included, demonizing everyone in the system in order to build popular support for their program, and not just insurers.  Anyone remember Tonsil Vultures and Foot Rustlers?  Doctors getting rich off of unnecessary surgery?  Why would anyone with a financial stake in the system trust Democrats after their mindless class warfare of the past several months on this issue?

Maybe they have awakened to the threat, although I’m not entirely convinced.  If they have, they deserve the Captain Louis Renault Award for extraordinary, and at least somewhat dishonest, obtuseness.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023