Friday, March 26, 2010

Something Socialistic This Way Comes (Part I)

NOTE: This is a multi-part essay on the recently passed national health care
legislation and its ramifications for our country.
--- Your faithful "Peasant"

Last weekend, a pall crept over our country; like an ominous shroud of
darkness, this pall has settled over every village, town, city, county, and
state. The forboding darkness is not one that is visible but rather one that
is palpable --- one that can be and is being felt in the hearts of everyone
who cherishes their freedoms, including their freedom of choice as consumers.
This pall, this darkness, is President Obama's so-called health care reform
legislation, "Obamacare", which in due course will place the health care
industry --- one-sixth of our economy --- under the control of the federal
What does this mean for us, the American people? It means that we will be
required to obtain health insurance for ourselves and our dependents whether
we want it or not. If we can't get it from our employers, this sweeping, unprec-
edented new legislation will mandate the creation of new marketplaces called
"exchanges" which will sell us the mandated medical coverage. We will all be
expected to have at least "minimal essential coverage" for our dependents and
ourselves by 2014. If one were to disobey this mandate by refusing to purchase
health insurance, one would then be assessed a tax penalty by Uncle Sam
amounting to $695 for each uninsured family member, up to a maximum
of $2,085 --- or 2.5% of household income, whichever is greater. Never mind
that there is no provision in the Constitution granting power to the federal
government to mandate us to buy any product or service! Certain people,
though, will be exempt from this mandate, these being folks with religious
objections, Native Americans, prisoners, and illegal immigrants. And if one
simply hasn't the means to buy the required insurance then our trusty Uncle
Sam will step in with subsidies. Since the money for the subsidies will come
from our taxes, we'll be paying for the coverage for ourselves and each other
The health"exchanges" would be "stores" to shop for health insurance.
They are supposed to inject "retail competition" into the marketplace,
so the Democrats tell us. These exchanges are supposed to help indivi-
duals and small businesses to come together and get greater variety in
health insurance coverage and get greater variety in health insurance
coverage along with better prices, like larger businesses negotiate for
their employees. The design of these exchanges would be left up to the
states, and they would be run either by a nonprofit organization or a
state government agency. The federal government would provide the
states with the money to establish the exchanges. Should a state refuse
to open one, Washington, will open one in that state. The people who
would be eligible to shop at these exchanges will be employees of small
businesses that do not offer, or have not offered, health insurance bene-
fits. The exchanges would ensure the compliance of all offered policies with Washington's standards. One would be able to buy health insurance
for yourself outside of these exchanges, but an insurer would have to
charge the same rates outside the exchange as it does inside it.
The reform in "Obamacare" will certainly take some time, what with the
writing of the regulations that will guide its functions. The best estimate
given by the Democrats is full implementation by 2014.
The reform, rather the remaking of the entire health care industry will cost
an estimated $940 billion over its first 10 years. There will be approximately
$40 billion in tax credits to be given to small businesses to assist with getting
their employees into the program, however, which in time will provide or
subsidize health insurance for presently uninsured people, the figure as to how
many still disputed and debated. The Congressional Budget Office claims that
the health care reform package will reduce the federal budget deficit over 10
years (sure --- and the sun will begin to rise in the west and set in the east!
Have you, my loyal readers, ever known ANY government program to actually
MAKE money, let alone reduce our nation's budget deficit?). The means to pay for this plan will come from new and higher taxes, fees on industries involved in
health care, along with cuts in projected spending growth for other govern-
ment programs including Medicare and Medicaid.
People making over $200,000 per annum and married couples making over
$250,000 per annum will bear much of the brunt of the increased/new taxes.
The Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) tax rate will rise by nine-tenths of
a percent to 2.35%. Also, a new tax of 3.8% on unearned income (i.e. dividends
and interest, etc.) will be assessed to these people in the aforementioned income
brackets. This will affect people's savings for their children's education, buying
age. This tax would come to 40% of the cost of the
plan which exceeds those dollar boundaries, and would take effect in 2018.
Drug manufacturers would have to pay $16 billion between 2011 and 2019,
with $47 billion due from health insurers in that time frame. Medical device
manufacturers will get a 2.9% excise tax on the sale of their goods starting
Jan. 1, 2013. This will impact innovation along with research and development
of new medicines and medical treatment devices (CATscans, etc.).
Medicare payments for home health care would be cut by $40 billion over 10
years. More than a few patients would lose their option to receive medical
treatment at home, in familiar enviorons with their families close at hand.
Next week we'll examine what "Obamacare" would mean to families and
children, to seniors, and to businesses.

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