Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On Mandates and Costs

Several articles appear in this morning’s headlines regarding yesterday’s House vote on repealing the health care law’s individual mandate.  Roll Call’s piece cites Democratic sources in claiming that removing the individual mandate would reduce coverage numbers by about 16 million individuals.  In other words, Democrats admitted their legislation forces 16 million Americans to buy coverage under penalty of higher taxation and harassment from the IRS.  The House vote came one day after release of the final “grandfathered” plan regulations released by the Administration, and a common theme among the two events emerged: In both cases, government is imposing more mandates on struggling families and businesses, forcing 16 million Americans to buy coverage they may not need or want, and may not be able to afford – and forcing half of all American workers to give up their current plan in exchange for a more expensive alternative.  This “bureaucrats know best” mentality is not true health reform.

Separately, the Wall Street Journal has an article outlining how Democratic dithering over the “doc fix” has harmed physicians, who are turning down patients amidst all the uncertainty; Roll Call carries a separate piece explaining some of the politics behind the Medicare SGR issue.  To be clear: Republicans SUPPORT reforming Medicare physician payments – provided it is done in a fiscally responsible manner.  As Senator Thune points out in the Roll Call piece, a long-term SGR solution “should have been done in health care” – when there were more than enough savings within Medicare to pay for an SGR repeal had that money not been “raided” to pay for new entitlements.  (As a further reminder, the Thune Republican alternative to the extenders package, which may be voted on today, provides a 12-month longer “doc fix” than the Baucus substitute – and does so while reducing the deficit, not increasing it.)

Various press reports appear to suggest that Democrats have once again retreated behind closed doors in an attempt to cobble together a legislative package that can win 60 votes.  Amidst all the talk of what’s “realistic” in terms of the “doc fix,” many Republicans may agree that it’s not realistic to finance new Medicare spending for America’s seniors by adding to the crippling debt burden that their children and grandchildren already face – we can find a better way to pay for the “doc fix,” and we must.