by Chidem Kurdas
Funny thing about the Obama healthcare plan. It resembles a Rube Goldberg machine, as did the 1990s Clinton version. The present proposal “relies on a combination of subsidies and regulation to achieve universal coverage, and introduces a public plan to compete with insurers and hold down costs,” according to Paul Krugman in the NYT.
Why not simply extend Medicare to everybody? Oh, I forgot, Medicare Part A is projected to run out of money by 2017. And the only reason the other parts don’t face potential insolvency is that they’re financed from general tax revenue. Given the government’s track record with medical entitlements, the claim that a new public plan will hold down costs is laughable.
Medicare costs more than half a trillion dollars a year now; within a decade it will require almost $1 trillion a year. If you want to skirt the cost issue, it’s best not to mention Medicare. This is the kind thing Charlotte Twight identified as a way proponents of larger government quash opposition. Concoct an elaborate new program of subsidies and regulations, mask the cost, focus on the new entitlement, and you’ll get more people behind the program.
Whereas if you suggested expanding Medicare, folks might worry about having to foot a bill that will cost even more trillions than Medicare already does. Obscure the trap and hook the population. No wonder Krugman writes that he’s not worried about costs. And no wonder he airily dismisses the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary prediction.
The CBO forecast is worth quoting:
According to that assessment, enacting the proposal would result in a net increase in federal budget deficits of about $1.0 trillion over the 2010–2019 period. Once the proposal was fully implemented, about 39 million individuals would obtain coverage through the new insurance exchanges. At the same time, the number of people who had coverage through an employer would decline by about 15 million (or roughly 10 percent), and coverage from other sources would fall by about 8 million, so the net decrease in the number of people uninsured would be about 16 million.
So, the new “insurance exchanges” will cause many millions to lose their insurance and become dependent on the government. And the program will create (additional) deficits of $1 trillion. Twight’s book, titled Dependent on D.C., used Medicare as one example of how government grew through various trickeries. If the Obama bill becomes law, she’ll have another case to add to an already significant lineup.
Compared to political games with trillion-dollar price tags, even the granddaddy of Ponzi schemers, Bernard Madoff, is small fry. He’s a mere piker, as John Stossel put it.