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Welcome to ObamaCare, Part III

April 28, 2010

In the third installment of my continuing series (Click for Part I and Part II), I bring two items to your attention. First, rational observers of the health care debate repeatedly asserted that the bill was a fiscal disaster. Turns out now that the bill has passed, the Obama administration is starting to admit it too. Second, one of the biggest problems with the government health care takeover is that it puts bureaucrats between you and your doctor. President Obama is ready to introduce us to one of those new bureaucrats, Donald Berwick.

Last week, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its analysis of ObamaCare’s financial impacts. They found that despite Democrats’ claims that the bill will reduce costs, the bill will actually increase “projected spending by about 1 percent over 10 years.” Furthermore, CMS hedged that even the estimated one percent increase may be too small; the “increase could get bigger, since Medicare cuts in the law may be unrealistic and unsustainable.”

Now they tell us! If only someone had realized the bill would increase costs before the bill had passed. Oh wait, here’s two senators—both of whom are doctors—talking about real cost containment. And here’s two more senators discussing the double counting of funds that now leads CMS to admit the savings are “unrealistic and unsustainable.”

CMS isn’t alone in its postmortem realizations. In a speech addressing the president’s debt commission, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke echoed what opponents of the takeover have been saying for more than a year: “the effects of the recent legislation on federal health-care spending over the long term are uncertain, in part because they depend importantly on implementation.” Given that bill increases demand by sweeping 18 million people into Medicaid and spends over a trillion dollars in the first ten years it is fully implemented, I’m willing to bet national health costs will continue to skyrocket.

Remember the president’s laughable claim that “if you like what you have you can keep it?” CMS makes short work of that too, stating: “we estimate that the number of individuals with employer-sponsored health insurance would decrease overall by about 5 million … because a number of workers who currently have employer coverage would likely become enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program.” CMS spells out exactly how this would occur. In response to ObamaCare’s stiff new business taxes “many employers would reduce the scope of their health benefits. The resulting reductions in covered services … would induce workers to use fewer services. … over time additional plans would become subject to the excise tax, prompting those employers to scale back coverage.” ObamaCare taxes our employer-based care right out from under us. Verizon is already warning its employees to brace for impact.

Bernanke is right that implementation is always the key to any new government program. President Obama has nominated Donald Berwick to head up the aforementioned CMS and oversee its massive expansion and implementation of ObamaCare. Berwick is a fan of British health care and suggests it’s a system “from which we ought to learn … [they] have created benchmarks of best practices that we could learn from and adapt in this country.”

President Obama insisted that the comparative effectiveness research that rations care in the British system would never be used in America. Oddly though, he did acknowledge that “The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here….There is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place.” What does his CMS nominee Donald Berwick think about rationing as a cost cutting tool? Berwick said“The decision is not whether or not we will ration care—the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.” I suspect Berwick’s confirmation hearings are going to be worth watching.

Conservatives warned that once government had control of our health care the exploding costs would seduce them to ration care. We were called liars, fear mongers and worse by those intent on pushing their will on the rest of the country. It took a scant two months from the bill’s passage for the president to produce a pro-rationing bureaucrat to help us have “a very difficult democratic conversation.”

Welcome to ObamaCare.

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