On November 21, the Senate voted by a 60-39 majority to commence debate on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reids bill that would radically expand government control over private health care decisions. The bill is over 2, 000 pages long, costs an estimated $2.5 trillion over the first 10 years of implementation, and carries a half trillion dollars in new taxes. The bill contains 13 tax increases, includes funding for abortions, and provides health care coverage for illegal immigrants. There are so many harmful provisions in the bill, it is hard to keep track of them all.
It will be a long debate in December, with a complicated amendment process likely. But despite the tweaks made to the bill, it is important to keep the five major flaws of both the Pelosi and Reid bills in mind:
1) A New Public Plan: Both the House and Senate bills would create a new government-run health care plan a so-called public plan intended to compete with private insurers in a new health insurance exchange. In the House bill, millions will lose private insurance. In both bills, there would be substantial consolidation of federal control over health care through the exchange. Notwithstanding their rhetoric, Congress is incapable of guaranteeing the American people a level playing field for competition between the government plans and private health plans.
2) Federal Regulation of Health Insurance: Both the House and Senate bills would impose sweeping and complex federal regulation of health insurance that will drive up (not down, as promised by the President) the cost of everyones health insurance premiums.
3) Massive Expansion of Medicaid and New Taxpayer-Funded Subsidies: Both the House and Senate would dramatically expand eligibility for Medicaid and create expensive, taxpayer-funded subsidies. Combined, this would make millions of Americans dependent on the government to finance their health care.
4) Employer and Individual Mandates: Both the House and Senate bills would impose an employer mandate for employers who do not offer coverage and for those whose benefits do not meet a new federal standard. An employer mandate would hurt low-income workers and would stifle much-needed economic growth. Our country does not need a job-killing employment tax at a time of 10.2% unemployment. The bills would also require all people to buy health insurance. Those individuals who do not purchase government-qualified health care coverage would be subject to new tax penalties and, in some cases, jail time.
5) Costs: Dont be fooled by the reported cost estimates. The Senate and House bills use budget gimmicks and unrealistic formulas to make their proposals fit under the $900 billion limit put forth by the President. As history has proven, government health care programs end up costing much more than first promised. When fully implemented with taxes and subsidies combined, the real 10 year cost of the Senate bill would be around $2.5 trillion.