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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

 
Die Today So They Don't Pay

by digby

If anyone is wondering what the fiscal scolds are preparing to combat health care reform with in the final stretch, look no more. The Peterson Foundation is ready. They released a report (pdf) on the Kennedy Bill today:


1. The net federal cost of the Act over the 2010 through 2019 period would be $39 billion (excluding debt service costs) and, thus the Act would be nearly fully funded as reforms phase in during the first ten years. The net federal cost of the Act over the following ten years (2020 through 2029) would be $1.01 trillion (excluding debt service costs) due to rapid growth in health care costs that will outpace the growth in incomes and revenues over the longer-term.


Golly, that sounds really bad. Almost as bad as the projections that social security will go broke in 30 years. And I would guess that if we keep going the way we are going, by 2200 the whole country will be so mired in debt we will be slaves of the Chinese overlords. So we'd better not do it.

The Foundation did score the HELP Committee for benefits as an afterthought:



2. The study estimates that under the Act (assuming full implementation and mature enrollment) almost 30 million people would gain insurance coverage in 2011, a reduction of 60 percent in the ranks of the uninsured.



* 41 million people would obtain health insurance through newly-created health insurance exchanges, including 21 million in the public plan. Enrollment in the Medicaid program would grow by 10 million.



* Families in which all members currently have insurance would save an average of about $176 under the Act, while families with one or more uninsured members would, on average, see an increase in family health spending of $1,410 per family.



* Overall, employer health spending would increase by an average of $305 per worker. Employers that currently offer insurance would see an increase in health spending of $123 per worker, while employers that do not now offer coverage would see an increase in health spending by an average of about $813 per worker. (However, most economists believe that employers would eventually offset the increases in costs through slower wage growth. As a result, families and individuals would ultimately bear the burden of higher health care costs, which is reflected in the bullet immediately above.) Small businesses currently providing insurance would save up to an average of $811 per worker due to a tax credit.



* The number of people covered in employer-sponsored plans (outside of the health insurance exchanges) would fall by 11 million, and overall enrollment in private plans would decline by about 900,000.



3. The Act would result in a net savings to state and local governments of about $62.6 billion over the 2010 through 2019 period, primarily due to savings in safety-net programs that currently serve the uninsured. States would save about $125.7 billion over the 2020 through 2029 period.



Oh who cares about that? Sure, it would be nice if people were healthier and all, but at the end of the day isn't that just too expensive? Seems like some people should just die to save money. (Not rich people, of course.)

The fact is that if all these benefits were actually realized, the country would be far, far better off, both financially and otherwise. Nobody expect that spending will go down, merely that the growth in spending will be less. Therefore, if the government finds itself having to pay out all that money in health care benefits, this healthier, more prosperous nation can surely afford to levy the necessary taxes to pay for it, right?

I don't give a damn what this is going to cost in 2029. And nobody else should either because these projections are based on bullshit. Nobody can see that far into the future. If we can pay for it now, then we should do it now. And if it costs more down the line, then we will find a way to pay for it. This nonsensical obsession with deficits decades into the future is nothing more than a scam designed to keep the gravy train going for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of everyone else.

If these numbers are correct, then the fiscal scolds are going to have to argue that people today have to die so that wealthy people in 2029 don't have to pay higher taxes. It's that simple.


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