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August 4th, 2010
WTF is This Supposed to Be?

From Congressman Kevin Brady:

Washington, D.C. - Four months after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously declared "We have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it,"a congressional panel has released the first chart illustrating the 2,801 page health care law President Obama signed into law in March. 

Developed by the Joint Economic Committee minority, led by U.S Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the detailed organization chart displays a bewildering array of new government agencies, regulations and mandates.  

"For Americans, as well as Congressional Democrats who didn’t bother to read the bill, this first look at the final health care law confirms what many fear, that reform morphed into a monstrosity of new bureaucracies, mandates, taxes and rationing that will drive up health care costs, hurt seniors and force our most intimate health care choices into the hands of Washington bureaucrats,"said Brady, the committee’s senior House Republican. "If this is what passes for health care reform in America, then God help us all."

Brownback, the committee’s ranking member, added, "This updated chart illustrates the overwhelming expansion of government control over health choices and the bewildering complexity facing everyone affected by this law.  It doesn’t take long to see how the recently signed health care bill causes a hugely expensive and explosive expansion of federal control over health care. Personal choices that should be between a doctor and a patient will quickly be strangled in a never ending web of bureaucracy."

Senate Steering Committee Chairman Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) called Obamacare "a bureaucratic nightmare. The Democrats’ takeover of health care creates a byzantine network of 159 new federal programs and bureaucracies to make decisions that should be between just the patient and their doctor. It should concern everyone that at the center of this regulatory web is the new CMS chief, Donald Berwick, who has championed rationing and European socialized medicine. Americans were rightly outraged that this big government bill was rushed through Congress before anyone read or fully understood the bill’s consequences. Republicans will fight to repeal this reckless takeover and to ensure health care freedom to American families."
 
In addition to capturing the massive expansion of government and the overwhelming complexity of new regulations and taxes, the chart portrays:

  • $569 billion in higher taxes;
  • $529 billion in cuts to Medicare;
  • swelling of the ranks of Medicaid by 16 million;
  • 17 major insurance mandates; and
  • the creation of two new bureaucracies with powers to impose future rationing: the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the Independent Payments Advisory Board.

Brady admits committee analysts could not fit the entire health care bill on one chart. "This portrays only about one-third of the complexity of the final bill. It’s actually worse than this."

(CLICK HERE) to download the PDF for yourself.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told an audience during the health-care debate in Congress that Democrats would “pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of controversy.”  

That remark captured the truth that, while many Americans have a vague sense that something bad is happening to their health care, few if any understand exactly what the law does.

To fill this vacuum, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, asked his staff to prepare a study of the law, including a flow chart that illustrates how the major provisions will work.

It’s a terrifying road map that shows Democrats have launched America on the most reckless policy experiment in its history, the economic equivalent of the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Ornate System

This clearly is a candidate for most disorganized organizational chart ever. It shows that the health system is complex, yes, but also ornate.

The new law creates 68 grant programs, 47 bureaucratic entities, 29 demonstration or pilot programs, six regulatory systems, six compliance standards and two entitlements. 

Getting that massive enterprise up and running will be next to impossible; so Democrats streamlined the process by granting Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the authority to make judgments that can’t be challenged either administratively or through the courts.

This monarchical protection from challenges is extended as well to the development of new patient-care models under Obama’s controversial recess appointment, Donald Berwick, whom Republicans are calling the rationer-in-chief. Berwick will run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where he can experiment with ways to use administrative fiat to move our system toward the socialized medicine of Europe, which he has at times embraced.

Closer to Home

A sprawling, complex bureaucracy has been set up that will have almost absolute power to dictate terms for participating in the health-care system.  Based on the administration’s own numbers, as many as 117 million people might have to change their health plans by 2013 as their employer-provided coverage loses its grandfathered status and becomes subject to the new Obamacare mandates.

Those mandates also might make your health care more expensive.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts that premiums for a small number of families who buy their insurance privately will rise by as much as $2,100.

Hurting the Elderly

To pay for this expansion, the bill takes $529 billion from Medicare, with roughly 39 percent of the cut coming from the Medicare Advantage program. This represents a large transfer of resources, sacrificing the care of the elderly in order to increase the Medicaid rolls.

For all this supposed reform, you, the American taxpayer, can expect a bill to the tune of $569 billion.

Front and center among the new taxes is the 40 percent excise tax on those lucky people with so-called Cadillac health plans. The higher insurance costs that are driven by the government mandates will push many more ordinary plans into Cadillac territory.

If the idea of taxing people with coverage deemed too good doesn’t bother you, maybe the new 3.8 percent tax on investment income, including home sales, those that generate $250,000 in profit for an individual or $500,000 for a married couple.

In vivid color and detail, Congressman Brady’s chart captures the huge expansion of government coming under Obamacare. Harder to show on paper is the pain it will cause.

 

(Kevin Hassett, director of economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, is a Bloomberg News columnist. He was an adviser to Republican Senator John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. The opinions expressed are his own.)

(CLICK HERE) Bloomberg/Kevin Hassett 


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