Monday, December 14, 2009

The Friday evening dump

(one in a (semi)weekly series intended to shine some light on unsavory news being jettisoned from the White House or Capitol Hill right before the weekend)

What do you call a healthcare plan that will turn out to be be even more expensive than simply doing nothing, will most likely lead to a rationing of Medicare services and will still leave 16 million people uninsured? Well, you would call that the Senate healthcare bill in its current form.

And who did the scoring this time? Those nags at the CBO or some biased right-wing think-tank. No and no. It was the economic analysts in the administration's own Health and Human Services Department, a department, we might add, that stands to gain the most in terms of power and control if Obamacare passes. This bill is so horrible even the HHS is giving it the stink-eye.

Democrats trying to push President Barack Obama's health care overhaul plan through the Senate got a sober warning Friday that costs will keep going up and proposed Medicare savings may harm the program.

A new report from government economic analysts at the Health and Human Services Department found that the nation's $2.5 trillion annual health care tab won't shrink under the Democratic blueprint that senators are debating. Instead, it would grow somewhat more rapidly than if Congress does nothing.

More troubling was the report's assessment that the Democrats' plan to squeeze Medicare for $493 billion over 10 years in savings relies on specific policy changes that "may be unrealistic" and could lead to cuts in services. The Medicare savings are expected to cover about half the nearly $1 trillion, 10-year cost of expanding coverage to the uninsured.

The report warned that a new long-term care insurance plan (read: cradle-to-grave universal health care) could "face a significant risk of failure" as it would attract people in poor health which, of course, would drive up premiums eventually triggering an "insurance death spiral".

You gotta love the AP, though. Right after the death spiral paragraph they follow up with this:

The one bright note: The bill would provide coverage to 93 percent of U.S. residents, reducing the number of uninsured people by about 33 million, the report said.

Hey, gang - good news. 93% of the country will be swallowed up in this death spiral.

Again, that HHS doesn't have nice things to say about Obamacare speaks volumes.

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