Saturday, January 16, 2010

America Excluded from Health Care Reform

Taxation without representation. That was one of the sparks that ignited the American Revolutionary War. The American Colonists were tired of being taxed by a government in which they had no representation. King George and the British Parliament were not necessarily out to get the American colonists. But the Americans did not have elected representatives to speak for their interests or protect their rights and for this reason they sought independence.

In the final days of the health care reform bill, millions of Americans are no longer represented in the House or Senate. All illusions of bipartisanship have been thrown aside as Democrats have seized control of the bill and excluded Republicans and the states and districts they represent from the discussion. Unless a posturing moderate like Olympia Snowe votes in favor of the bill, not a single Republican voter will have been represented in health care reform.

Health care reform was supposed to be a great collaborative process. President Obama and the House and Senate Democrats promised involvement from both major political parties and all parts of the health care industry. Everyone would be involved in developing a solid and comprehensive health care reform. Yet, in the final hours, not just Republicans have been excluded. Health care providers and insurers, those who had the most to offer in drafting the bill, find themselves on the outside looking in on health care reform.

In the early days of the debate, many doctors showed lukewarm support of the proposed ideas despite the loss of independence they were likely to suffer. Doctors did have two major priorities for health care reform: medical malpractice tort reform and updating of the antiquated SGR formula that determines physician reimbursement for Medicare Part B. Sure, reform health care, many said. While you're at it, just make sure that we get paid for our work and don't have our earnings stripped by the judicial system.

Not only will the final version of the bill introduce a new nightmare of bureaucracy and host of middle men, but medical tort reform and updating of the SGR will not be included. They never even made it out of committee.

The health insurance industry is the industry that will most be affected by the legislation. It had even less involvement in any collaboration process. From the beginning of the debate, insurance companies were branded by the President and Democrats as crooks. Democrats said the health insurance industry was ripping off Americans, pocketing hard-earned money while denying claims. They needed to be taken over. America swallowed the bait, despite reports showing narrow profit margins by the industry. With the final legislation, the government takes over the health insurance industry.

How can the rights and interests of physicians, insurers, and conservatives in general be represented if they have no part in the legislative process? What sort of bill is written when the legislature does not represent its constituents? We're about to find out. Using the bill that came out of the house, we can make a pretty good guess. The bill is designed to insure all Americans. It helps pay for those who can't afford insurance and criminalizes those who don't want to buy it. It is estimated to cost $894 billion over the next 10 years. Here's who will pay for it:

1) The bulk of this sum will come from the wealthy- individuals who make over $500,000 a year or families who make over $1,000,000. These individuals will have an additional 5.4% tax added to their already considerable 35% federal income tax.

2) Also footing the bill are doctors and hospitals who will be reimbursed even less for Medicare and Medicaid.

3) An honorable mention goes to the insurance companies, whose contributions are not being figured into the $894 billion, but whose cooperation allows the price tag for the bill to be as low as it is. They will be offering special low-priced premiums to all of America while the Legislature holds them at gunpoint. How long these premiums can be maintained before the industry goes bankrupt remains a question.

4) Consideration is currently also being given to those who are already insured with expensive comprehensive plans. Although it may not make sense to the general public why patients with health insurance would be taxed in order to provide health insurance to patients, Democrats are currently working it into the bill.

The Democrats have put together a health care reform bill that does not represent anyone in the health care industry, that threatens to bankrupt health insurers, and that is currently supported by less than half of America. This is the sort of representation they have provided. Instead of thoughtfully voting on a well-crafted collaborative bill, they will try to push through a half-baked, unread 1000+ page piece of legislation this weekend.

I realize that this is not the first time one party has overrun the legislature and left others in the dust. However, Democrats have pitted Americans against each other in a game of winners and losers that is contrary to American Philosophy and rights of representation fought for in the Revolution. Instead of protecting rights or even implementing a more efficient process, they simply take from one group to give to another. They would create prosperity through robbery. They try to stabilize the economy through a smash and grab operation.

Taxation without representation. It is one of the sparks that ignited the Revolutionary War. It is the reason why America is no longer governed by ruling bodies in Great Britain. Taxation without representation is the reason this legislation has been so hard to push through. It is also why Democrats are likely to find themselves out of majority power in the very near future.

Rusty Scalpel