Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"A Less Than Honest Policy"

I'll say. Oh, wait - I have been saying that. This is not good for Obama when many of the columnists who sold their souls, um, I mean, supported him wholeheartedly with little good reason are now taking a step back. Well, some of them don't flat out say anything negative about Obama per se, just his horrible policies, or the way in which policies are crafted that might look bad for Obama. Same difference, right? I imagine, though, that they can invoke plausible deniability should things actually turn around for Obama (presuming the entire nation loses its collective mind)...

Anyway, the most recent to start pulling his head out of the, uh, sand, is Bob Herbert, a columnist I had previously enjoyed up until about 2 years ago or so. He is weighing in on a policy near and dear to all of our hearts, and that would be this horrendous health "care" policy that made it through the Senate,A Less Than Honest Policy .

And how, for oh-so-many-reasons, but here are some of Herbert's reasons:
There is a middle-class tax time bomb ticking in the Senate’s version of President Obama’s effort to reform health care.

The bill that passed the Senate with such fanfare on Christmas Eve would impose a confiscatory 40 percent excise tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, which are popularly viewed as over-the-top plans held only by the very wealthy. In fact, it’s a tax that in a few years will hammer millions of middle-class policyholders, forcing them to scale back their access to medical care.

Which is exactly what the tax is designed to do.

The tax would kick in on plans exceeding $23,000 annually for family coverage and $8,500 for individuals, starting in 2013. In the first year it would affect relatively few people in the middle class. But because of the steadily rising costs of health care in the U.S., more and more plans would reach the taxation threshold each year.

Within three years of its implementation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the tax would apply to nearly 20 percent of all workers with employer-provided health coverage in the country, affecting some 31 million people. Within six years, according to Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, the tax would reach a fifth of all households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. Those families can hardly be considered very wealthy.

No, they can't be considered wealthy, and this is exactly what those of us who actually are paying attention have been saying time and time again - this is going to BREAK a number of people in this country. And just how is this going to be carried out? I think you know already:
Proponents say the tax will raise nearly $150 billion over 10 years, but there’s a catch. It’s not expected to raise this money directly. The dirty little secret behind this onerous tax is that no one expects very many people to pay it. The idea is that rather than fork over 40 percent in taxes on the amount by which policies exceed the threshold, employers (and individuals who purchase health insurance on their own) will have little choice but to ratchet down the quality of their health plans.

These lower-value plans would have higher out-of-pocket costs, thus increasing the very things that are so maddening to so many policyholders right now: higher and higher co-payments, soaring deductibles and so forth. Some of the benefits of higher-end policies can be expected in many cases to go by the boards: dental and vision care, for example, and expensive mental health coverage.

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.

If even the plan’s proponents do not expect policyholders to pay the tax, how will it raise $150 billion in a decade? Great question.

Yep, taxes. But the other issues raised are very important - people will have lesser coverage, and seek medical assistance less early on, thus spending out more later, and the "more" isn't just money, but HEALTH itself. What a great plan, eh?? Yeah. Right. No wonder they are having to buy people off to go along with this plan. Because it is absurd:
We all remember learning in school about the suspension of disbelief. This part of the Senate’s health benefits taxation scheme requires a monumental suspension of disbelief. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, less than 18 percent of the revenue 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.

Can you believe it?

I asked Richard Trumka, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., about this. (Labor unions are outraged at the very thought of a health benefits tax.) I had to wait for him to stop laughing to get his answer. “If you believe that,” he said, “I have some oceanfront property in southwestern Pennsylvania that I will sell you at a great price.”

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.

Mr. Herbert, glad to see you are starting to come out of your Kool Aide induced haze. Nice to have you back in the reality-based world.

This may as well be entitled the, "Penny-wise, Pound Foolish" Health Care bill, because that is exactly what it is. Once again, the middle class will be carrying the burden, and not just by shelling out more money, but by being FORCED to carry inferior insurance.

Tell me again why we are supposed to be happy about this? About being forced into government health care that will be worse in just about every manner possible? What is the REAL point of this? I have my suspicions, but I'd like to hear yours.


Mary Ellen said...

This is all so crazy, the dishonesty is blatant and yet there are still those idiot Obots (like my husband) who believe that Obama is bringing us health care "reform". The real kick in the ass is that people will be paying for and taxed for this health care two years before they see anything. So, my daughter who is not on her work health care plan because they raised the cost so high that if she takes it, she won't have enough money to pay her rent, will now be FORCED to pay for it, and get nothing for two years....and then have to make the choice of food or rent. I have no idea how she is going to do this. It's not like there are other jobs out there for her to get, at least not in her field of journalism.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, Mary Ellen -

You are exactly right. And now, all of a sudden, the burden will be on those making $50,000 or more. SO much for the $250,000, then $225,000, then $200, get the picture - amt they kept quoting.

And what is going to happen to your daughter, sadly, will be replicated all across the country. Paying two years for a whole lotta nothing - what an AWESOME plan. Cough, choke.

Sigh. I hate the way this plan has come abt anyway, but I am really sorry to hear how it will affect your daughter, ME...