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Health Care: What Lies Ahead


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Health Care: What Lies Ahead

A few days before President Obama signed the health spending bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, "We have to pass this bill so that you can find out what was in it."

Now that the President signed it into law, let's take a look.

First, there are tax increases -- over $500 billion. It's estimated that it will take 16,500 new IRS agents and $5 to $10 billion for the IRS just to collect the taxes. Everyone will be hit with these tax hikes -- families, seniors, people with insurance, people who don't buy insurance, patients who use medical devices, and employers large and small.

Caterpillar, one of our nation's biggest exporters, has said that its health-care costs would increase by $100 million in the first year of the new entitlement program. It either has to pass those costs on to its customers (making it less competitive abroad) or reduce costs (e.g., by laying off employees). Medical device maker Medtronic warned that new taxes on its products could result in 1,000 of its workers being laid off. The president of a ski tourism company in Colorado called the new taxes in this bill "a stunning blow to any large employer like ours." So, this legislation is not, as some Democrats have claimed, a "jobs bill," (except for all the new IRS agents.)

Second, there is a subsidy to insurance companies that Democrats amazingly claim is a tax cut. Usually, a tax cut means that taxpayers don't have to pay taxes that they have paid in the past. But, in this case, this so-called tax relief goes directly to insurance companies and never touches the pockets of American families. So, in reality, this "tax cut" is just another government spending program--taxpayer money going to the very insurance companies the administration vilifies.

Then there are the massive cuts to Medicare. The President's health spending plan slashes $523 billion from Medicare -- $202 billion from Medicare Advantage. This bill takes health-care benefits away from 330,000 Arizona seniors who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage. So, it's not true that if those seniors like the coverage they enjoy that they can keep it.

Another measure, totally unrelated to health care, bans private companies from offering federally guaranteed student loans. Starting in July, students will have to go to the U.S. government for their loans, which will be about as pleasant as a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles. What does higher education have to do with health care? The Department of Education will borrow money from the Treasury at a low interest rate, charge students a higher rate, and use some of the difference for new health spending.

Then there are the huge debts that our children and grandchildren will have to repay. Democrats had to resort to budgetary tricks to hide the bill's $2.6 trillion cost, and the total cost will only increase. Cost estimates for government entitlement programs often prove optimistic, to say the least. For example, the government health-care program in Massachusetts is devouring that state's budget. And Medicare was projected to cost $9 billion annually 25 years after it was enacted. That estimate was off by $58 billion!

The health spending bill gives the federal government near total control of private health insurance and, therefore, delivery of Americans' health care. By limiting choices and imposing new government mandates, the measure forces more Americans to become dependent on the federal government and empowers bureaucrats to make decisions that will directly affect patients.

Because costs will continue to escalate, rationing of care will result. We can do better. We should repeal the law and start over.

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