Monday, December 28, 2020

The Stakes on Health Care in Georgia

Between the coronavirus, the holiday season, and the lingering controversies stemming from November’s elections, Georgia conservatives may face the temptation to sit out the January 5 runoffs for the state’s two Senate contests. But victories by Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock would give Democrats control of the Senate and with it an opportunity to enact policies to put their leftist vision into law.

When Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., say “now we take Georgia, then we change America,” they refer first and foremost to health care.

In October, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised a “great, big initiative” on health care next year—a prospect that should give conservatives pause.

Pelosi, Schumer, and President-elect Joe Biden want to enact a government-run health plan, the first stop on the road to a single-payer system. But the left’s health care agenda doesn’t end there, as several other less publicized concepts would further expand and entrench government’s role.

Here’s a closer look at four of them:

Welfare for the Wealthy, Part One: Biden’s health care plan would eliminate the current provision limiting eligibility for ObamaCare subsidies to households making under four times the federal poverty level ($104,800 for a family of four in 2020).

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that eliminating this cap would extend subsidies to much wealthier families. In one county, a 64-year-old making $300,000 per year would qualify for subsidized coverage—an extreme example, but one that illustrates how the “Affordable” Care Act has become anything but, and how Biden’s “solution” consists of using taxpayer funds to subsidize high premiums.

Welfare for the Wealthy, Part Two: A provision in legislation House Democrats passed earlier this year would require all state Medicaid programs to keep beneficiaries enrolled for twelve consecutive months, no matter how much their assets or income rise in the interim.

The Senate did not consider the measure, but the nearly $205 billion, ten-year cost of this provision demonstrates the impacts of keeping ineligible individuals enrolled in Medicaid, such as the at least 1,672 beneficiaries with income of over $100,000 that Louisiana removed from the program’s rolls last year.

Mandatory Health Insurance: Biden previously expressed support for reviving ObamaCare’s individual mandate, but many on the left want to go further. A recent Congressional Budget Office report requested by several House Democrats examined automatically enrolling all Americans in health insurance, using the tax code to bill people retroactively for insurance coverage they did not want and may not have used.
CBO noted that these premium bills “could total thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars,” and that “collect[ing] premium-equivalent taxes by garnishing wages, imposing liens, or other means…might be controversial.” But the budget office’s skepticism contrasts with the enthusiasm of leftist think-tanks like the Center for American Progress, the Brookings Institution, and the Urban Institute, all of whom have released policy papers endorsing the concept.

Jeopardizing Employer Coverage: I noted in a recent report for the Juniper Research Group where I serve as CEO that Biden’s plan for richer ObamaCare subsidies could prompt 24 million Americans to switch out of their current employer plan and obtain coverage on the Exchanges instead.

This policy would result in trillions of dollars in new federal spending on subsidies for people switching coverage—which would not reduce the number of uninsured Americans—while undermining the stability of employer-provided insurance for those who wish to remain in their current plan.

Runoff elections serve as a good test of voter engagement. The potential policy ramifications of Democratic victories in Georgia—trillions of dollars in new spending, much of it directed towards wealthy and/or previously covered individuals, and five-figure tax bills for individuals forcibly enrolled in coverage—should provide motivation enough for conservatives to march to the polls on January 5.

This post was originally published at Fox News.