By John L. Valentine
Utah State Senator, District 14
To quote the August 6, 2009 Provo Daily Herald
, “The more you look at the Democrats’ proposed health insurance scheme, the scarier it gets.”
I have had, literally, a hundred calls from constituents, members of the legislature and clients trying to get a handle on the “Health Care Reform Bill” that is working its way through Congress. I usually ask, “Which reform bill are you addressing? Are you speaking of the 1,018-page version of HR3200
entitled ‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act?’” This bill passed on July 31st from the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is primarily sponsored by John Dingle. (Incidentally, Congressman Matheson voted No in the committee on a close committee vote of 32 to 28.)
“Or are you referring to the version passed by the Health, Education and Labor Committee on July 17th by a 26 to 22 vote?”
“Perhaps you are referring to the House version passed by the House Ways and Means Committee, which also passed on a close vote with three Democrats and all Republicans voting no on July 17th.”
“Wait, you must be speaking about the unnumbered Senate bill entitled ‘Affordable Health Choices Act.’ It’s only 615 pages and is being considered by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. It did not receive a vote before the summer recess.” Rumor has it that the Senate Finance Committee also has a bill, but as of this writing, it has not yet been made public.
HR3200 has received the most publicity as being the President’s “Health Care Reform Bill.” The versions passed by the House Health, Education and Labor Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee were similar but “addressed differing areas of the bill due to the differing jurisdictions of the committees.” The three House bills, differ significantly since they were passed by three different committees, with their own mark-ups. I have read through the 1,018 pages of HR 3200, but have not yet had a chance to read the Senate unnumbered bill with its 615 pages. (I wonder how many of our Federal Congressman have done so?)
So, what are all these bills attempting to do? If you would like to read some HHS propaganda, go to HealthReform.gov
, click on the Utah link and find out how bad we are in Utah at governing our own affairs. Since we are doing so badly, the federal government has had to step in and mandate all employers to have either private insurance or government insurance. HR3200 sets up a private public advisory committee known as the Health Choices Committee, which determines coverage benefits and premiums plans (ie: what health care is covered and the price for such coverage.)
It is made up of the US Surgeon General and 18 other members appointed by the President. HR3200 mandates audits of all employers who are self-insured. The government panel will mandate the treatments and benefits you can obtain, even if you have private insurance, unless you can pay for it out of pocket. Unlike the present system, there is no appeal process. In other words, the Health Choices Committee will decide the health benefits for us; we will have no choices, none whatsoever. It will be decided by a federal bureaucracy.
Oh, by the way, all non-US citizens, whether illegal or not, will be provided free health care services under the bill. Don’t believe it? Look at page 50
of HR3200 and see for yourself. Oh, and did they forgot to tell you, every person will be issued a National ID Health Card (see page 58
of the bill). Those eligible for Medicaid
(the “poor”) will automatically be enrolled in the new government health care plan. No choices, no state experimentation or efficiencies. This expanded coverage is partially financed by reductions in reimbursement rates to Medicare
(the “elderly”) doctors, hospitals and clinics.
No longer would a person be able to sue for price fixing. Since there would no longer be judicial review, there is no remedy for the prices set by the federal government. Oh, and by the way, employers must pay health care bills for part-time employees and their families financed by an 8% tax on payroll for employers with $400,000.00 or more of payroll per month. If you are a smaller employer with a payroll less than $400,000.00 per month, you still have a 2 to 6% tax imposed on your payroll. (Incidentally, the bill requires posting signs “in the language of commonly encountered groups or groups presented in the service area of a health care organization” advising them to sign up for the government health plan if your employer does not have you covered under its plan (page 413
Finally, starting on page 424
of HR3200, Section 1233 entitled “Advance Care Planning Consultation” requires that any individual who has not had a consultation within the last five years that qualifies, shall have their doctor explain to them regarding life-sustaining treatment or similar orders which shall include the reasons why the development of such an order is beneficial to the individual and the individual’s family. As the Daily Herald
“Your reasons for living might be unacceptable to the government.”
Remember, the Congressional Budget Office Director, Douglas Elmendorf, concluded that the bills described above not only do not save money
but would increase government spending
on health care without reigning in health care costs. His statement: “The creation of a new subsidy for health insurance . . . would by itself raise federal spending on health care . . . . To offset [those costs], there would have to be a substantial increase in taxes or reduction [of programs] on the spending side of the ledger.” (Emphasis added)
As a reminder, the Congressional Budget Office analyzes the cost of legislation. Congress is not obligated to follow their estimates. And Federal Congressmen, Federal Senators and Federal Government employees do not have to be covered by this mess. They always exempt their taxpayer paid health-plans from these requirements.
Am I upset? Yes. Am I mad? Yes. Can we do anything about it? Yes. Our Congressman and Senators need to hear from us NOW, during the summer break, by email, by “snail-mail,” by phone and by attendance at town meetings. Don’t believe the propaganda aired by groups such as MoveOn.org Political Action Committee. Read the Bill for yourself. It is on-line now.
And please, pass it on to your friends from other states.