2008 record      

 

Socialized Medicine: The administration's own health department, in a devastating analysis, warns of rising costs, shrinking benefits and a long-term health care "death spiral." "Reform" has been pronounced dead.

When even the liberal Washington Post warns that congressional Democrats, in trying to save their increasingly unpopular health reform bill, are sneakily making it more like European-style socialized medicine, it means the death watch is on.

Letting 55-year-olds "buy in" to the fiscally doomed Medicare program "could be a bigger step toward a single-payer system than the milquetoast public option plans rejected by Senate moderates as too disruptive of the private market," the Post wrote last week.

The key reason: "sicker near-seniors ... might assume, with good reason, that the government will be more accommodating in approving treatments, and they might flock to Medicare. That would raise premium costs and, correspondingly, the pressure to dip into federal funds for extra help."

Medicare is already rocketing toward bankruptcy; that move would switch on the afterburners.

The president can talk about enactment before Christmas all he wants; the fact is that the more that information gets disseminated about this ever-shape-shifting nightmare of a plan, the more the American people fear it. The IBD/TIPP Poll pegs public support at 41%; Gallup gauges its popularity at just 35%.

Now comes the final, fatal blow: a report from the chief actuary of the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that says health "reform" will mean the opposite of its advertised promises.

Reform was supposed to be about reducing ever-increasing costs. But HHS says that under the bill now being steamrolled through Congress, total health costs over the next decade (now estimated at $2.5 trillion) "would increase by about 0.7%" over what would take place if we made no changes at all.

And the plan to "save" nearly $500 billion in Medicare costs that Democratic leaders ask us all not to worry about? The result would be cuts in services as providers and physicians who take Medicare patients "could find it difficult to remain profitable and, absent legislative intervention, might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries)."

How about that new long-term care entitlement plan in the Democrats' reform proposal, with its spiffy moniker, "CLASS Act"?

According to HHS, because "individuals with health problems or who anticipate a greater risk of functional limitation would be more likely to participate than those in better-than-average health," premiums would rise and rise, causing an "insurance death spiral" and making the program "unsustainable."

But isn't it all worth it to insure the uninsured? Actually, after Congress and the president get through wrecking the finest health care system in the world, there would remain "an estimated 24 million" Americans still without health insurance 10 years from now.

Think of it: We're increasing health care costs in America, cutting services and "jeopardizing access" for Medicare patients as we accelerate Medicare's insolvency, setting up a new government long-term care entitlement that's doomed from the start — and after all that we still end up with 24 million uninsured!

Little wonder Rasmussen now scores the president's approval as only 44% — historically dismal for the end of a first year in office.

The White House is now so desperate to save face and pass something — anything — it wants Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to cut a deal with independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, a Democrat unsuccessfully targeted for destruction by his own party in 2006 for insisting that America win the Iraq war.

But giving Lieberman what he wants means taking away the socialistic features that left-leaning senators demand, losing senators' votes and risking nothing being passed.

And even if the White House magically pulls a rabbit out of its hat, it still means enacting a health care revolution the vast majority of Americans now oppose. Democrats will have to answer for that in 2010 and 2012.

So Congress' "reform" is dead. Long live the real reform that its death can bring if ideas based on expanding freedom and consumer choice — not government control — are seriously considered.

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