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A Desperate December Deal

The Morning Bell
The Heritage Foundation
December 9, 2009

If you are one of the few Americans who still subscribes, your morning newspaper probably has a headline like this: Democrats Reach Deal on Health Plan. Don’t believe it. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is still light years away from producing the 60 votes necessary to pass Obamacare out of the Senate. And the few details that have leaked out about this new “broad agreement” only reveal just how desperate Reid is to get any bill on to President Obama’s desk by the New Year.

Of course, there is no good policy reason why the Senate should be rushing the reorganization of one-sixth of our nation’s economy through their chamber. As leftist columnist E.J. Dionne has frankly admitted, the December deadline is a purely political invention, created for the sole purpose of enabling President Barack Obama to point to at least one accomplishment during his State of the Union speech in January. Details of the agreement have not been made public, and Senate Democrats are refusing to make them public until they hear back from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). But judging from what little has been selectively leaked to the public, this idea deserves to die:

Doubling Down on Debt: Medicare is already bankrupting our country. In 2007 alone, Medicare was forced to draw $179 billion from the general revenues of the U.S. Treasury. According to the latest Medicare trustees report, the program already faces $36 tril lion dollar long-term budget shortfall. Medicare’s annual drain on our resources is set to skyrocket in 2011 when the first wave of baby boomers retire. The new Senate deal would only make this problem worse by expanding Medicare eligibility to people without insurance between the ages of 55 and 64.

Death Sentence for Hospitals: The Reid Health Bill already delivers a huge blow to our nation’s hospitals by cutting Medicare reimbursements to hospitals by hundreds of billions of dollars. Moving millions of more Americans to Medicare would cut into hospital revenues even further. That is why both the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals sent alerts yesterday urging their members to oppose the new Senate deal.

A Government Run Health Care Coup: You might think that leftists who have been dreaming about single payer, government run health care for years would be upset about the new Senate deal. They are not. The existing Medicaid expansions in the bill, and the new Senate deal Medicare expansions, are just a continuation of the left’s health care agenda since the defeat of Hillarycare: Slowly expand existing government programs so that all private health care is strangled out of existence. So instead of fighting to preserve the public option, leftist activist Chris Bowers urges readers to fight “to expand the Medicare buy-in to all Americans between the age of 55 and 64 (inclusive).” Progressive health care guru Ezra Klein says the new deal is better than the public option because “it seed[s] health-care reform with scalable experiments.”

When President Barack Obama gave one of his first national health care addresses in June, he instructed Congress: “As we move forward on health care reform, it is not sufficient for us simply to add more people to Medicare or Medicaid.” But after months of debate in Congress, that is all Obamacare has turned out to be.

Related Content

Article The Health-Care Tax
Eric M. Staib, The Free Market, Vol. 27, No. 12 (December 2009)
Article The Vicious Heart of ObamaCare
Robert Tracinski, TIA Daily, 12.09.2009

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