Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Senate Health Care bill is Actually Worse than House

In spite of the rocky road to date in the pursuit of socialized medicine, it seems that policy makers are bent on pursuing the most difficult course possible in making this bill become law. The costs exceed earlier expectations, it is picking up questionable policy additions along the way, and it is receiving criticisms from every sector. This trend in the US House is continuing in the Senate.

There is the sticky matter of abortion funding in the bill. Pro-life members of the Senate are convinced this bill will lead to federal funding of abortions. Fox News quotes Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb) stating "Citizens get charged a premium that includes abortion coverage. The taxpayers pay a percent of the premium. Who can determine what dollar went here or what dollar went there?"Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., concurs and is threatening to filibuster the bill, under which the so-called "public option" health insurance plan and subsidized plans would allow for abortions, if covered with private money.

Even Obama himself admits the proposal does not have the proper balance to appease all the forces in the debate. "Not yet," Obama told Fox News' Major Garrett in a recent interview.

Abortion is just the beginning of the problems facing the legislation.

Union members, a strong part of Obama's constituency and of members of Congress behind the bill, could find themselves paying a tax on the part of family health insurance plans that exceed $23,000 in value.

The bill takes aim at those who can afford elective procedures by charging an additional tax on aesthetic procedures. It is being affectionately referred to as the "botox tax."

Than there is the Medicare tax which would rise for people making more than $250,000 a year from nearly 1 1/2 to nearly 2 percent, in the Senate bill. "Tax" is a popular theme through out the bill. In fact, the group Americans for Tax Reform notes the bill uses the term "tax" 183 times. This should not be a surprise, since the bill is more than 2,000 pages long and its enormity has become a prop for its critics during debates.

As is the case in every legislation, the Devil is in the details. With more than 2,000 pages, there are plenty of those to be sorted out. For example, one popular idea among "nanny minded" members was a proposal to tax sugary drinks that did not make it to either the House or Senate bill. However, to hedge their bets, the food industry is still running ads critical of it. One such advertisement points out that "They say it's only pennies, well those pennies add up when you're trying to feed a family."

In my opinion, the only thing that will allow this awkward bill to pass, in light of its many targets for critics to attack, is to use fear. Essentially they are going to try and convince the American people that doing nothing will be far more harmful than passing a bill that is riddled with social agendas, outrageous taxes, and prolific spending. This does not even begin to discuss the problem of rationing that will follow the addition of tens of millions of individuals added to the health care system. In spite of significant majorities in both Houses of Congress, this bill likely is "dead on arrival."

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on AM 650 (M-F at 11 am) in Houston, Texas and on AOL Radio. His articles often appear in Chicago Sun Times, Reuters, USA Today, and other national media. Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com. You can also find Price on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com.

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