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Government’s Benevolence Equals Higher Costs

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Have you ever noticed that our federal government is always venturing out of its jurisdiction in trying to make things more affordable for all of us? Our paternal/maternal leaders in D.C. never pass up a chance to try to do something to make our lives easier. Their examples of benevolence are many and always end up in disaster.

Take education for instance. Uncle Sam has lavished grants and loans on us in an effort to make a college education affordable for most Americans. However, has the price of college decreased? Ever? The answer is no and in fact it can be argued that government grants and loans have actually contributed to the perennial increase in college tuitions. When students qualify for federal largess it makes them less likely to comparison shop based on cost. By eliminating cost competition in the college market institutions of higher learning have less incentive to lower costs. Perhaps this is why the rate of defaults on student loans is so high. Like subprime mortgages, instead of shopping around for economy, people commit to loans that they ultimately can’t afford to pay.

Then, there is Washington’s attempt to make retirement years more affordable. Social Security checks are mailed to millions of Americans every month to provide supplemental income to seniors. Because the program has been played up as the greatest thing since sliced bread by the Establishment many Americans have been deluded into believing that they can retire on Social Security alone. They forego saving for retirement and find when they retire that the monthly payment hardly makes ends meet. Perhaps this is the reason why many elderly folks sell their homes because they just don’t have the funds to pay the ever increasing costs of property taxes. Taking into account that the Social Security Trust Fund is empty and estimates for future obligations are about $45 trillion imagine the inflation that will eat further into Social Security income when the Federal Reserve must print dollars to monetize government checks.

By now, we should all be familiar with Uncle Sam’s attempt to make home ownership more affordable for all of us. This has been primarily attempted through cheap money from the Federal Reserve and loan guarantees from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But, believe it or not, low rates and easy guarantees increased the demand for housing thereby raising prices and shutting out millions of home seekers. Of course, in the end, artificially low interest rates and the benevolence of government caused the bubble which popped and placed millions more Americans into foreclosure.

Lastly, and more germane to the topic of this article, is the attempt of Washington to make medical care more affordable for many Americans. The two major programs to deliver this service since 1966 have been Medicare and Medicaid. Coincidently, since 1966, healthcare costs have skyrocketed by an incredible 1800 percent!. Naturally, all the costs cannot be blamed on these government programs – our population has aged and new technologies are expensive. But, certainly, since healthcare is the biggest expenditure as a percentage of GDP of the federal government, Washington’s payments through Medicare and Medicaid have required the printing of new dollars which in turn have bid up the price of medicines and medical care.

Now Obama and his fellow statists in Congress want to implement a total takeover by Uncle Sam of our healthcare system in order to make healthcare affordable for every person in the U.S. The plan would cover everyone including the slothful and those in the country illegally. It would cost at least $2 trillion over the next decade and probably more given demographics and the inefficiencies inherent in all government programs. As usual, the politicians are talking compassionately while totally ignoring the real causes of the problem.

The fact is that there are tens of thousands of regulations and mandates that health providers and insurance companies must follow. The costs of adhering to these regulations are staggering. For instance, all states mandate coverage of certain diseases and disabilities in insurance plans. This raises the costs of coverage and limits choice for consumers. Regulations should be reduced and coverage mandates repealed to help contain healthcare costs.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a major culprit contributing to the healthcare crisis. To get a drug approved for consumption takes on average twelve years and over $350 million. This cost and time commitment squelches competition because many small drug firms do not have the long term funding to survive the process. The FDA should be abolished and replaced with a private Underwriters Laboratories type rating organization. A private system would encourage efficiency, increase competition, and lower costs.

The third party payer system has not served us well. Because either the government or insurance companies pay most of the costs of our healthcare there is no incentive for us to shop around for the most efficient health services. Medical savings accounts (MSA) would allow taxpayers to save money tax free and be able to withdraw it to pay for medical bills. These plans could allow individuals to save up to $7500 (the per capita amount government spends on healthcare) a year tax free. Individuals would be responsible for their own medical expenses up to that amount and could opt for a catastrophic plan beyond that. This would ensure comparison shopping, thereby lowing costs. Additionally, consumers could save premium dollars by only needing to purchase insurance that covers hospitalization and long-term care.

Lastly, it is no surprise that an article by this writer would not be complete without a call for sound money. A commodity backed currency would restrain costs in healthcare because the government would be forced to live within its means. The Federal Reserve would not be able to monetize infinite amounts of debt and this would contain price inflation especially in high demand sectors like healthcare.

Yes, Washington has failed miserably at making anything affordable for Americans. From education to retirement to housing, everything the politicians touch increases in cost. You would think Obama, Conrad, Reid, and Pelosi would realize this and scrape their grandiose plan to make healthcare more affordable.

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About Kenn Jacobine

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    “You would think Obama, Conrad, Reid, and Pelosi would realize this and scrape their grandiose plan to make healthcare more affordable”

    They would, but only if they are in office to serve the people. I don’t believe they are. I believe they’re in office solely to line their own pockets.

    But, yes, you have hit the nail on the head. Rarely has government intervention helped a cause.

  • Bliffle

    Kenn says:

    “They forego saving for retirement and find when they retire that the monthly payment hardly makes ends meet.”

    I’m retired and find that my monthly needs are well within the SS check. Of course, I’m a Cheap Guy, I drive a cheap car, eat cheap food (like fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, simple healthy inexpensive foods from the produce section, few meats, and only eat out infrequently and then at only a very good restaurant. Of course, I split the entree with my dinner partner, but then, good restaurants welcome that).

    “… Perhaps this is the reason why many elderly folks sell their homes because they just don’t have the funds to pay the ever increasing costs of property taxes.”

    Or to scale down to something more appropriate for empty-nesters, as I did.

    “… Taking into account that the Social Security Trust Fund is empty and estimates for future obligations are about $45 trillion…”

    Actually, of course, the trust fund sits at about $2.5trillion and increases about $160billion every year. Future obligations will be adjusted for as future obligations occur. Just like an insurance annuity does.

    “… imagine the inflation that will eat further into Social Security income when the Federal Reserve must print dollars to monetize government checks.”

    Actually, the Fed only prints actual dollar bills to accomodate circulation needs and only has about $900billion in circulation now, and half of that is invisible.

    The greater danger is the leverage of intrinsic capital against extrinsic capital. The total intrinsic value of US capital is about $45trillion, but the extrinsic value of all financial instruments is about $550trillion, a ratio of about 12:1. Most of that is commercial instruments of some sort, mostly promissory.

    The private commercial sector has leveraged paper value against actual value to the extent of 12:1.

    My my my.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Joanne – if Obama’s main reason to be in office was to ‘line his pockets’, he’d never have run for office and instead made ten or twenty times his present salary as a practicing constitutional lawyer.

    bliffle – *gasp*! You mean that the government might actually be MORE efficient than the private sector? Golly gee whiz – that means that there might be a Really Good Reason that the top twenty-seven countries on the life-expectancy list ALL have government-driven universal health care of some sort or another, and we’re in 30th place behind such stellar first-world countries like Bosnia and Jordan.

    But UHC will ruin our economy – never mind that we already spend nearly twice as much as any of the countries with UHC who have a longer national life expectancy.

    But you’ve heard this rant before. I’m finally of the opinion that to the Republicans, it does not matter that UHC is more effective and far cheaper. All that matters to them is getting back in power.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Glenn, you really need to pay more attention. Even Republicans (those with any sense) aren’t arguing against UHC right now. The concern is the Obamacare plan and the lame implementations of it being considered by Congress. It is nothing like UHC and it WILL be a disaster.

    Dave

  • Arch Conservative

    Hey Glenn it’s 7:52 pm….do you know where your messiahs poll numbers are?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    Is it just me or are you – since you do have sense – now at least to some extent support the idea of UHC?

    Speaking of the horrors of ‘Socialized Medicine’, here’s what the leading lights of conservatism said about Medicare:

    Ronald Reagan: “[I]f you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” [1961]

    George H.W. Bush: Described Medicare in 1964 as “socialized medicine.” [1964]

    Barry Goldwater: “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.” [1964]

    Bob Dole: In 1996, while running for the Presidency, Dole openly bragged that he was one of 12 House members who voted against creating Medicare in 1965. “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” [1965]

    Yeah, Medicare’s terrible in the eyes of conservatives. But you know what? If it hadn’t been for Medicare, I would’ve gone bankrupt trying to pay for my mother’s medical bills for the past two decades…and which would have cost the taxpayers more? Her medical bills? Or my bankruptcy? I’ll make it easy for you – my bankruptcy would have cost FAR more.

    Dave, you and I battled back and forth for months on UHC…and now since the Democrats were weak enough to actually reach across the table and try for bipartisanship (which the Republicans NEVER did during their majority time during the Bush 43 years), you might get your wish – something OTHER than what Obama’s original plan was (which was single-payer health care IIRC), and something OTHER than a robust public option. That’s what we Dems get for trying to work WITH the Republicans, even though they weren’t American enough to try to work with us.

    Be careful what you ask for, Dave, ’cause sometimes that’s just what you get.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Arch –

    Obama’s poll numbers are just under double those of Bush last year.

    So what’s your point?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And btw, Arch –

    Do you consider yourself a Christian? Yes or no? Or do you refuse to answer, thereby (if you believe yourself to be Christian) committing the sin of hiding your light under a basket?

    If you do consider yourself a Christian, and IF you take your faith seriously, then you know how offensive it is for a guy to call someone other than Jesus your ‘messiah’…and if you’re a Christian, it is a sin for you to call ANYone other than Jesus a ‘messiah’ in any context.

    FYI, I am a strong Christian. Jesus is my Messiah, my Savior. Do NOT ridicule my beliefs. If you’ll remember, in America we RESPECT the religious beliefs of others…even if we disagree with those beliefs.

  • Clavos

    Or do you refuse to answer, thereby…committing the sin of hiding your light under a basket?

    WTF???

    Is that the eighth deadly “sin?”

    Is it greater or less than Greed? Gluttony? Anger? Pride?

    You’ve reached a new pinnacle with that one, Glenn.

  • Clavos

    But you’re right about calling him the Messiah.

    Pariah is more appropriate.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “do you know where your messiahs poll numbers are?”

    I am guessing better than Baldwin’s. Regardless, they are meaningless since no is voting on Obama for a while now

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Mat 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;

    Mat 5:15 “nor does {anyone} light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

    Mat 5:16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

    Clavos, I’m not sure of your personal beliefs, but I believe that if Jesus said to do something, then that is a command, and to not follow His command is a sin, as the next verse makes clear:

    Luke 6:46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

  • Irene Wagner

    I’ve just committed the sin of holding my dang peace for once. Off to another thread…

  • Irene Wagner

    Job 13:5

  • Clavos

    Ah, so it’s a sin by your definition, then.

    I don’t have any personal beliefs, I’m an atheist, Glenn.

  • Irene Wagner

    But I will hold forth on matters lexiconical. It is a sin for you to call ANYone other than Jesus a ‘messiah’ in any context.

    NOT according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate dictionary, almost as old and uncorrupted by time as the beloved King James version, and I quote: “messiah. definition 2: a professed or accepted leader of some hope or cause.

    Look, Glenn Contrarian, I know I frequently cross the line of propriety on here, but it’s because my fingers have totally different standards from my mouth. That being said, I love Jesus very much, heck, *I EVEN THINK HE’S GOD, SO THERE*, and people used to say that I thought Ron Paul was a messiah, and I didn’t think anything of it.

    Unless they were Republican Evangelical Christians, of course–and Glenn, with regard to our opinions of them, I suppose, we could find a good deal of common ground, politically speaking.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I cannot define something as a sin – for Christians, the definitions of sin are in the Bible.

    I can understand your atheism – I was agnostic for a long time and came very close to being such a long time ago, until something was shown to me that I didn’t expect, that I really would not have thought possible – a fulfilled prophecy that I could verify for myself.

    Irene –

    In the Church of which I’m a member, we do not believe that Jesus is God, not at all. We believe that He is only a Man – the very Son of God, but still only a Man. Only God is God. Not Jesus, and not the Holy Spirit, but God Alone.

    Our belief is heretical in the eyes of mainstream ‘Christianity’, but then most of mainstream ‘Christianity’ does not truly know the roots of trinitarianism. To make a long story short, as far as I’ve been able to find, every nation and culture from the Indus to the western Mediterranean worshiped a trinity of one sort or another – every nation or culture, that is, except the Hebrews. There’s so much more to learn, but I’ll leave it at that.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I’ve noticed that the comments on Jacobine’s articles are more interesting than the [usually useless] articles themselves.

    This thread is getting way too theological for me [above my pay grade?], but it is somewhat entertaining.

    I do take umbrage at the fact that those of us who admire the president are accused of ‘worshiping’ him.

    We are certainly relieved to have a change of attitude and direction in the White House, but there are very few of us who agree with everything Obama does and says. But when we do agree and we say so, it’s treated as some sort of intellectual shortcoming to be mocked and spat upon.

    When obviously he’s the smartest guy to hold the office in … at least 8 years. [And the most articulate in probably…46 years or so.]

  • Irene Wagner

    But that’s just IT Glenn Contrarian!!! Every nation or culture is SHOT through with the trinity. It’s either the whole world corrupted the ancient religion of Noah and Enoch and Methuselah the Priest of Melchizedek…or there are remnants of truth retained even in the remote folk cultures. He hath not left himself without a witness. Math and nature is shot through with “threeness”, pi, the natural exponential constant…both almost 3 you know, and when you throw them both into Euler’s Identity, look what happens! The rule of thirds in proportion is three-based. And the Old Testament, too…there is such a lot more to learn, for BOTH of us Glenn. That’s what makes the spiritual life so wonderful, surprises are just around the corner every day!

    There’s a lot for EVERYONE to learn, Glenn. God isn’t just about the number Three. He’s about Love, and a Godhead that has managed to live in perfect unity of purpose forever, with the aim of shepherding a creative creation to discover and grow into that kind of unity, not to have it superimposed. I know how Mormons interpret John 17. Some of my best friends are…yada yada. I think they’re half-way there with John 17, they think I’m half-way there with John 17. So, we’re both at least half-way there, agreed?

    Not everyone is at the same spot. Be patient with people, for we ALL have things to learn.

    Now, go pick the wife some roses. :)

  • Irene Wagner

    I am going to *hangs head in shame* read Kenn Jacobine’s article, now, Handyguy. Be nice. I like his articles.

  • Clavos

    Glenn,

    You say:

    I cannot define something as a sin – for Christians, the definitions of sin are in the Bible.

    But, prior to that, you said:

    …I believe that if Jesus said to do something, then that is a command, and to not follow His command is a sin…

    Which is why I said:

    Ah, so it’s a sin by your definition, then.

    You’re contradicting yourself, Glenn.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Admiration is a form of worship.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Not you too, Roger.

    We can be strong supporters of the man and still find calling him, mockingly, a messiah to be inappropriate, even apart from religious scruples, which I don’t have.

    It is a great relief to feel good about [some parts of] the government after finding it a source of disgust for so long.

    And I understand that some of our colleagues on here are in the opposite situation, finding big government programs and wealth-sharing rhetoric alarming and/or distasteful.

    Still, I object to the nasty tone of some of the mockery. [Good natured it ain’t.] I certainly don’t expect it to stop, however.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t disagree with any of your tenor, Handy; still, admiration is a rather strong word; it does connote a special relationship, of love, and things of that sort. So all I’m saying, one’s got to thread carefully here.

  • Baronius

    I can’t agree with much of anything so far on this thread:

    The idea of a trinity is unique to Christianity. Finding it in other religions is like following the story line on Lost; you see it because you’re looking for it, not because it’s there.

    To a Christian, failing to acknowledge Jesus is a sin.

    There’s nothing idolatrous about admiring people.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    No, the idea of a trinity is NOT unique to mainstream ‘Christianity’. If you will read the entry of ‘Babylonia’ in the Catholic Encyclopedia (not the ‘new’ Catholic Encyclopedia), you’ll find a statement by the authors that Baal was part of a ‘Trinity’ (with a capital ‘T’, no less). Not only that, but if you’ll read Herodotus, you’ll find that every night in the temples of Ba’al, a chaste woman would wait for the god to come in human form so he could take his pleasure with her.

    Ba’al, part of a trinity according to the Catholics? And could the chaste woman waiting by night to play the part of a wife to Ba’al?

    You should also bear in mind that the triune god of Vishnu/Kali/Shiva was also supposed to be one-in-three/three-in-one, in the same manner as the ‘Christian’ trinity.

    In ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’, Gibbon describes how Plato ‘discovered’ proof of a divine trinity either by logic or by teaching of Egyptian priests.

    I didn’t expect to find any of these facts, but came upon each quite by accident while reading each reference.

    Only the Hebrews, out of the entire Middle East region, did not worship a trinity of some sort or another. Jesus is not God – and if you’ll read the earliest available Hebrew and Greek, you’ll find the Bible NEVER refers to Jesus as God.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The idea of a trinity is not unique to Christianity. You can find it in one form or another in Zoroastrianism and several of the Roman mystery cults, all of which had a large influence on early Christianity.

    Dave

  • Arch Conservative

    Glenn I don’t consider myself a Christian. I’m not religious at all so don’t waste your time getting all sanctimonius on me by trotting out three or four bible verses you’ve memorized but don’t understand as some type of moonbat tactic of putting me in my place.

    Oh and Eight Ball Barry’s approval ratings are actually lower than Bush’s were at this point in his presidency according to Rasmussen. Apparently his minister of propaganda, Goebells…oops Gibbs, and his minions have been falling down on the job lately when it comes to hiding the truth.

    Who cares what you find offensive handyguy? The fact is that the level of support for this man in spite of the reality of what he actually is is obscene and inane.

    It took the Kenyan Kid less than six months to spend more than any other administration in our nation’s history and he wants to spend a few trillion more by years end. The ONLY solutions he’s proposed to any problem so far is more government and more spending.

    Oh but we’re not allowed to call him a socialist right? Give me a fucking break. I choose to believe my lying eyes over you Obama cultists.

    2010 can’t come quick enough as the GOP is on course see major pickups in both houses thereby rendering Barry almost harmless. then it’s a quick goodbye, thanks for nothing, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, and tell Carter we said hi from the American people in 2010.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Arch, you don’t consider yourself religious at all?

    Even with your fanatical devotion to a cause and your blind faith in anything and everything right-wing to not only save the world but your very soul?

    Who needs Jesus when you’ve got the word “moonbat” in every post?

  • Bliffle

    Regardless of all these entertaining religious diversions, Jacobines article is simply wrong. It is based on flagrant, but widely enunciated, lies and fabrications.

    What’s amazing to me is that even after peoples lies are corrected that they keep repeating them. It’s as if they live in some kind of a dream world where repetition will convince everyone to accept the lie, and then it will magically become a truth.

  • Doug Hunter

    “Still, I object to the nasty tone of some of the mockery.”

    Sorta like Bush = Shrub, Bush = Chimp, Bush Equal Hitler. I don’t remember you getting your panties in a wad over that.

    Where you stand on wealth redistribution depends alot on whether you’re a distributor or a distributee. It doesn’t matter how inefficient government is when, for most, it’s only wasting other people’s money. WHo cares about that? If they take $1 Billion of Bill Gates money and ‘lose’ 99.9% of it along the way of redistributing it to me, I’ve still got a gain of $1 Million. Sounds fine to me.

    That picture is a bit rosy though. We’re a bit too afraid to outright redistribute it here and now so we tell the chinese to put it on our unborn children’s tabs and then convince ourselves it’s our ‘right’, that we are entitled to all these things. This’ll work as long as the world is happy, relatively stable, and growing. I’m just not sure that’s a permanent condition.

  • Bliffle

    Since it’s my duty and joy to Spread Sunshine Wherever I Go, here are citations for the healthcare bills, and some summary text: Consider it your homework for the weekend to read and understand:

    ————————————————–
    HR 3200 healthcare bill summary

    HR 3200

    look for ‘official bill text’ in upper right of page
    ——————————————————————–

    OpenCongress Summary
    This is the House Democrats’ big health care reform bill. Broadly, it seeks to expand health care coverage to the approximately 40 million Americans who are currently uninsured by lowering the cost of health care and making the system more efficient. To that end, it includes a new government-run insurance plan to compete with the private companies, a requirement that all Americans have health insurance, a prohibition on denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions and, to pay for it all, a surtax on households with an income above $350,000. A more detailed summary of the bill by the House Committee on Education and Labor can be read here (four-page .pdf).

    here’s the summary: (4 pages)

    Summary

    SUMMARY
    America’s Affordable Health Choices Act provides quality affordable health care for all Americans and
    controls health care cost growth. Key provisions of the bill released today include:
    – COVERAGE AND CHOICE
    – AFFORDABILITY
    – SHARED RESPONSIBILITY
    – CONTROLLING COSTS
    – PREVENTION AND WELLNESS
    – WORKFORCE INVESTMENTS

    I. COVERAGE AND CHOICE
    The bill builds on what works in today’s health care system and fixes the parts that are broken. It
    protects current coverage – allowing individuals to keep the insurance they have if they like it – and
    preserves choice of doctors, hospitals, and health plans. It achieves these reforms through:
    ? A Health Insurance Exchange. The new Health Insurance Exchange creates a transparent and
    functional marketplace for individuals and small employers to comparison shop among private and
    public insurers. It works with state insurance departments to set and enforce insurance reforms
    and consumer protections, facilitates enrollment, and administers affordability credits to help low-
    and middle-income individuals and families purchase insurance. Over time, the Exchange will be
    opened to additional employers as another choice for covering their employees. States may opt to
    operate the Exchange in lieu of the national Exchange provided they follow the federal rules.
    ? A public health insurance option. One of the many choices of health insurance within the health
    insurance Exchange is a public health insurance option. It will be a new choice in many areas of our
    country dominated by just one or two private insurers today. The public option will operate on a
    level playing field. It will be subject to the same market reforms and consumer protections as
    other private plans in the Exchange and it will be self-sustaining – financed only by its premiums.
    ? Guaranteed coverage and insurance market reforms. Insurance companies will no longer be able
    to engage in discriminatory practices that enable them to refuse to sell or renew policies today due
    to an individual’s health status. In addition, they can no longer exclude coverage of treatments for
    pre-existing health conditions. The bill also protects consumers by prohibiting lifetime and annual
    limits on benefits. It also limits the ability of insurance companies to charge higher rates due to
    health status, gender, or other factors. Under the proposal, premiums can vary based only on age
    (no more than 2:1), geography and family size.
    ? Essential benefits. A new independent Advisory Committee with practicing providers and other
    health care experts, chaired by the Surgeon General, will recommend a benefit package based on
    standards set in the law. This new essential benefit package will serve as the basic benefit package
    for coverage in the Exchange and over time will become the minimum quality standard for
    employer plans. The basic package will include preventive services with no cost-sharing, mental
    health services, oral health and vision for children, and caps the amount of money a person or
    family spends on covered services in a year.
    II. AFFORDABILITY
    To ensure that all Americans have affordable health coverage the bill:
    ? Provides sliding scale affordability credits. The affordability credits will be available to low- and
    moderate- income individuals and families. The credits are most generous for those who are just
    above the proposed new Medicaid eligibility levels; the credits decline with income (and so
    premium and cost-sharing support is more limited as your income increases) and are completely
    phased out when income reaches 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($43,000 for an
    individual or $88,000 for a family of four). The affordability credits will not only make insurance
    premiums affordable, they will also reduce cost-sharing to levels that ensure access to care. The
    Exchange administers the affordability credits with other federal and state entities, such as local
    Social Security offices and state Medicaid agencies.
    ? Caps annual out-of-pocket spending. All new policies will cap annual out-of-pocket spending to
    prevent bankruptcies from medical expenses.
    ? Increased competition: The creation of the Health Insurance Exchange and the inclusion of a
    public health insurance option will make health insurance more affordable by opening many
    market areas in our country to new competition, spurring efficiency and transparency.
    ? Expands Medicaid. Individuals and families with incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal
    poverty level will be eligible for an expanded and improved Medicaid program. Recognizing the
    budget challenges in many states, this expansion will be fully federally financed. To improve
    provider participation in this vital safety net – particularly for low-income children, individuals with
    disabilities and people with mental illnesses – reimbursement rates for primary care services will be
    increased with new federal funding.
    ? Improves Medicare. Senior citizens and people with disabilities will benefit from provisions that fill
    the donut hole over time in the Part D drug program, eliminate cost-sharing for preventive services,
    improve the low-income subsidy programs in Medicare, fix physician payments, and make other
    program improvements. The bill will also address future fiscal challenges by improving payment
    accuracy, encouraging delivery system reforms and extending solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund.
    III. SHARED RESPONSIBILITY
    The bill creates shared responsibility among individuals, employers and government to ensure that all
    Americans have affordable coverage of essential health benefits.
    ? Individual responsibility. Except in cases of hardship, once market reforms and affordability
    credits are in effect, individuals will be responsible for obtaining and maintaining health insurance
    coverage. Those who choose to not obtain coverage will pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of modified
    adjusted gross income above a specified level.
    ? Employer responsibility. The proposal builds on the employer-sponsored coverage that exists
    today. Employers will have the option of providing health insurance coverage for their workers or
    contributing funds on their behalf. Employers that choose to contribute will pay an amount based
    on eight percent of their payroll. Employers that choose to offer coverage must meet minimum
    benefit and contribution requirements specified in the proposal.
    ? Assistance for small employers. Recognizing the special needs of small businesses, the smallest
    businesses (payroll that does not exceed $250,000) are exempt from the employer responsibility
    requirement. The payroll penalty would then phase in starting at 2% for firms with annual payrolls
    over $250,000 rising to the full 8 percent penalty for firms with annual payrolls above $400,000. In
    addition, a new small business tax credit will be available for those firms who want to provide
    health coverage to their workers. In addition to the targeted assistance, the Exchange and market
    reforms provide a long-sought opportunity for small businesses to benefit from a more organized,
    efficient marketplace in which to purchase coverage.
    ? Government responsibility. The government is responsible for ensuring that every American can
    afford quality health insurance, through the new affordability credits, insurance reforms, consumer
    protections, and improvements to Medicare and Medicaid.
    IV. PREVENTION AND WELLNESS
    Prevention and wellness measures of the bill include:
    ? Expansion of Community Health Centers;
    ? Prohibition of cost-sharing for preventive services;
    ? Creation of community-based programs to deliver prevention and wellness services;
    ? A focus on community-based programs and new data collection efforts to better identify and
    address racial, ethnic, regional and other health disparities;
    ? Funds to strengthen state, local, tribal and territorial public health departments and programs.
    V. WORKFORCE INVESTMENTS
    The bill expands the health care workforce through:
    ? Increased funding for the National Health Service Corp;
    ? More training of primary care doctors and an expansion of the pipeline of individuals going into
    health professions, including primary care, nursing and public health;
    ? Greater support for workforce diversity;
    ? Expansion of scholarships and loans for individuals in needed professions and shortage areas;
    ? Encouragement of training of primary care physicians by taking steps to increase physician training
    outside the hospital, where most primary care is delivered, and redistributes unfilled graduate
    medical education residency slots for purposes of training more primary care physicians. The
    proposal also improves accountability for graduate medical education funding to ensure that
    physicians are trained with the skills needed to practice health care in the 21 st century.
    VI. CONTROLLING COSTS
    The bill will reduce the growth in health care spending in a numerous ways. Investing in health care
    through stronger prevention and wellness measures, increasing access to primary care, health care
    delivery system reform, the Health Insurance Exchange and the public health insurance option,
    improvements in payment accuracy and reforms to Medicare and Medicaid will all help slow the
    growth of health care costs over time. These savings will accrue to families, employers, and taxpayers.
    ? Modernization and improvement of Medicare. The bill implements major delivery system reform
    in Medicare to reward efficient provision of health care, rolling out innovative concepts such as
    accountable care organizations, medical homes, and bundling of acute and post-acute provider
    payments. New payment incentives aim to decrease preventable hospital readmissions, expanding
    this policy over time to recognize that physicians and post-acute providers also play an important
    role in avoiding readmissions. The bill improves the Medicare Part D program by creating new
    consumer protections for Medicare Advantage Plans, eliminating the “donut hole” and improving
    low-income subsidy programs, so that Medicare is affordable for all seniors and other eligible
    individuals. A centerpiece of the proposal is a complete reform of the flawed physician payment
    mechanism in Medicare (the so-called sustainable growth rate or “SGR” formula), with an update
    that wipes away accumulated deficits, provides for a fresh start, and rewards primary care services,
    care coordination and efficiency.
    ? Innovation and delivery reform through the public health insurance option. The public health
    insurance option will be empowered to implement innovative delivery reform initiatives so that it is
    a nimble purchaser of health care and gets more value for each health care dollar. It will expand
    upon the experiments put forth in Medicare and be provided the flexibility to implement value-
    based purchasing, accountable care organizations, medical homes, and bundled payments. These
    features will ensure the public option is a leader in efficient delivery of quality care, spurring
    competition with private plans.
    ? Improving payment accuracy and eliminating overpayments. The bill eliminates overpayments to
    Medicare Advantage plans and improves payment accuracy for numerous other providers,
    following recommendations by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the President.
    These steps will extend Medicare Trust Fund solvency, and put Medicare on stronger financial
    footing for the future.
    ? Preventing waste, fraud and abuse. New tools will be provided to combat waste, fraud and abuse
    within the entire health care system. Within Medicare, new authorities allow for pre-enrollment
    screening of providers and suppliers, permit designation of certain areas as being at elevated risk of
    fraud to implement enhanced oversight, and require compliance programs of providers and
    suppliers. The new public health insurance option and Health Insurance Exchange will build upon
    the safeguards and best practices gleaned from experience in other areas.
    ? Administrative simplification. The bill will simplify the paperwork burden that adds tremendous
    costs and hassles for patients, providers, and businesses today.
    PREPARED BY THE HOUSE COMMITTEES ON WAYS AND MEANS, ENERGY AND COMMERCE, AND EDUCATION AND LABOR
    JULY 14, 2009

  • Baronius

    All Hindu gods are part of the one. It’s not trinitarian, it’s billiotarian. Besides, Shiva is two, so the Hindu trinity would be four. Traditional Hinduism had one main god, or (agruably) none. Zoroastrianism had two gods, distinctly separate.

    I couldn’t find the particular Catholic Dictionary that Glenn mentioned. The virgin sacrifice to Ba’al has nothing to do with a trinity.

    But look, if you want to order things in trinities, it’s easy: count the first three, then stop. Want to make a trinity of sodas? There used to be Coke, Pepsi, and Moxie as the big three. Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have been called a trinity. If you’re seeing trinities, it’s because something similar catches your eye.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Well, now. I just got discharged from the hospital this afternoon and let me say these last two days have been an experience. People in health care are just as concerned as people who need health insurance. And the common denominator was health care insurance costs and how insurance companies waste a LOT of money. More later…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    The Catholic Encyclopedia entry is on newadvent.org in the ‘Babylonia’ entry (Askimet wouldn’t accept a link). It says, “The Babylonian Trinity of An*, Bel, and Ea is the result of later speculation, dividing the divine power into that which rules in heaven, that which rules the earth, and that which rules under the earth.”

    ‘Bel’ is also “Ba’al”.

    That begs the question of why the priests of Ba’al would require chaste women to play the part of wives to their god…and if you’ll check, part of becoming a nun is a ‘marriage ceremony’ to Jesus.

    And when it comes to the Hindu trinity, I’d rather take the Hindu’s word than yours: “Lord Brahma is the first member of the Brahmanical triad, Vishnu being the second and Shiva, the third. Brahma is the god of creation and he is traditionally accepted as the Creator of the entire universe.”

  • Irene Wagner

    ….and there are striking similarities between the names/histories of Brahma, the Hindu god and his wife–or, by some accounts, his daughter–Saraswathi and Abraham, the patriarch of the monotheistic faiths, and his wife/half-sister–Sara.

    If one wants to look for pagan tie-ins in the Old Testament, they’re there also.

    One can waste a lot of energy contending that before the advent of the founders of one’s religion, God had no interest in talking to anybody he created.

    The various creation and flood and redemption stories have a certain consistency. They’ve been changed with the re-telling and re-tooling. After studying comparative religions (and the reports of amazed Christian missionaries who were enthusiastically welcomed as long-awaited prophets by their converts), you can conclude that 1) nobody who honestly went looking for God got left out, not in China’s most xenophobic days, not in pre-Colombian South America, not in any remote Pacific island 2) or, the whole thing “God thing” is a crock.

    The only way you can know for sure that the whole “God thing” is not a crock is to know God for yourself. And when that happens, you aren’t threatened when somebody else says they know God. You’re interested.

    I hope you will not be offended when I say it’s time for another Lent for me, Baronius. It’s one of the traditions I’m glad the Catholic church preserved. Truly.

  • http://biggesttent.blogspot.com/ Silas Kain

    Ironically, Senator Chris Dodd, beneficiary of sweetheart mortgages deals, wielder of immense Senatorial power and a “common” man has announced he has early stage prostate cancer. Fortunately for him he has the medical insurance and financial clout to get this thing caught and dealt with early enough. The same can’t be said for the thousands of Americans who may have been diagnosed with some form of cancer in the last month.

    While I certainly don’t wish ill will upon Senator Dodd, I would hope that this scare convinces him that health care reform isn’t a luxury but a moral issue in these United States. Sen. Arlen Specter certainly changed his tune about stem cell research when he had his encounter with mortality. Dodd should follow the Senator’s example.

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