Monday, December 28, 2009


Chuck Cooper - Health Bill Fallout

Thanks to the health insurance bill, it sure looks like it is going to be difficult for any Democrat to be reelected November 2, 2010. Ten months is probably enough time for the various stakeholders to understand, or exaggerate, the effects on them of whatever compromise the House and the Senate come up with. As evidence of this, let's tote up what groups might be "all wee-weed up"over the bill, to adopt President Obama's delightful phrase.

First, the are some sizeable groups we can feel pretty sure about. People on medicare already realize that nothing good is going to come of it, whether it is limits on benefits or increased co-payments, and surely will vote to "keep your government hands off my Medicare!" Those on medicaid, likewise.

The largest group that already has insurance are those that have coverage through their employment. The President has said "if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period." He later clarified that, saying he meant that the government won't take you plan away, not that no one would. The problem, of course, is that no matter what the final bill does to penalize employers who terminate their coverage, whether a tax or a payment to the employee, it is almost certain to cost less than continuing their plan does, if not this year, then the next. The major barrier to termination of employer plans has been the inability of the employees to secure coverage elsewhere on a reasonable basis. That solved, employers will head for the exit. The uncertainty is whether this will be under way by November 2, 2010 enough such that employees generally realize what Congress has wrought. Boy, are they going to be wee-weed. You would expect the republicans to make it a campaign issue.

OK, what about the beneficiaries of this legislation? The currently uninsured. The ones that are now required to purchase health insurance whether they want it or not. Or pay the penalty. You can divide these folks into three groups. The ones that can afford insurance but would rather spend their money elsewhere, those that think they can't afford it but the government thinks they can, and those that will get the purchase subsidized to some extent. I think we can safely put the first two groups in the ungrateful wee wee catagory. But surely we can count on the third catagory to show a little gratitude? These folks will be entitled to receive taxpayer help. However, as a group these folks haven't proved to be very good at figuring out how to maximize the benefits they already qualify for, such as food stamps, even without the intricities of applying for insurance. Depending on what the government decides to do about rounding them up and forcing them to obtain coverage, we might expect a goodly portion of these folks to either fall through the cracks, or join the wee-weed ranks.

So how do we see the politics here? Since the bills have been adopted with straight party line votes, all the credit goes to the Democrats. Not even the normal level of confusion here. So who will the wee-weed folks be voting for in a little less than 10 months? And do you think the Republicans might campaign on the repeal platform? Sometimes it isn't over even when it's over.

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