Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

22 January, 2007

I can think of someone who should utilize his mental health benefits

To answer dave's question, the Bush health care plan is a crock of shit. Note the following:
President Bush will propose a deep tax break for Americans who purchase their own medical insurance and would finance it with an unprecedented tax on a portion of high-priced health-care plans that workers receive from their employers, according to the White House.

The initiative, which the president briefly previewed in his radio address yesterday, has a dual purpose: It would create a financial incentive for the estimated 46 million to 48 million Americans who lack health insurance to buy it. And it would rein in the soaring cost of health insurance by encouraging workers in high-priced plans to seek more modest coverage.

While it's tempting to focus on the "financial incentive" to buy health insurance for the uninsured - an incentive which would be of dubious consequence for many of the reasons dave points out - the real pernicious part of this plan is how these tax incentives would be financed.

First, the Bush plan makes the assumption that health care premium costs are driven by workers who want "high-priced [health] plans" (read: plans which allow them regular access to quality health care). This assumption is flat-out wrong. Premium cost increases are not driven by consumer demand for better coverage any more than they are by medical malpractice lawsuits. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: health care premium increases are driven by swollen administrative costs, which are increasing at roughly three times the rate of actual medical expenditures. (Ironically, an out-of-control, inefficient administrative apparatus is always the canard tossed out against universal health care).

More significantly, the plan literally robs Peter to pay for Paul. The money to subsidize the uninsured will come from new taxes on the health care plans of employees in "high-priced" plans. So, middle-class professionals and workers who have collectively negotiated a great health care plan can expect to see their benefits taxed. I think there is an intentionally placed trojan horse here for organized labor. Imagine your next health care negotiations with the boss telling you that they're slashing your benefits in order to save your members from paying higher taxes. Nightmarish.

Fortunately, there's hope the idea may be DOA in committee:
Still, some leading Democrats are skeptical of the plan. "It is good that the president is finally talking about health care," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate committee that oversees health-care matters. "I question, however, why the president thinks the way to solve this problem is through the tax code."

Let's hope the Bush plan never sees the light of day, because it - much like everything else this administration has produced - is a huge, stinking turd.

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