The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Responding to the Health Care Hecklers

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jameson

South Carolina Policy Council Research Director Jameson Taylor spoke at a town hall meeting on health care legislation Aug. 17 at Keenan High School.

While speaking at Joe Wilson’s town hall meeting in Columbia, several hecklers accused me of lying about what President Obama’s health care plan will do to the American health care system and economy.

The sense I got from those who support Obama’s vision for health care is that they really like Obama and may not know or even care much about the specifics of his health care package.

In any case, in the interest of continuing a dialogue based on facts, rather than baseless hopes or fears, I wanted to write a series of blog posts explaining my remarks, as well as elaborating upon this fact sheet that we handed out at the town hall event.

By the way, I should say that the crowd of about 600-700 (not 1,700 as the paper reported) was overwhelmingly – perhaps about 90 percent – in favor of free-market health care reform.

In this first post I want to address the fact that millions of Americans will lose their current coverage under ObamaCare.

As I state in the fact sheet:

1. The majority of individuals with employer-based coverage will lose their current plan.

2. Millions with private insurance will lose existing health coverage.

Now, according to President Obama, this is not true. The president claims:

“So let me begin by saying this to you and to the American people: I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage — they like their plan and, most importantly, they value their relationship with their doctor. They trust you. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

Apparently, however, the president misspoke. Thus, according to a June 19 AP story:

“White House officials suggest the president’s rhetoric shouldn’t be taken literally: What Obama really means is that government isn’t about to barge in and force people to change insurance.”

To clarify: What the president means is that the government will not directly force anyone to change plans. Even this, however, is not true. HR 3200 requires all health insurance to be purchased via a government-run Health Insurance Exchange that mandates the type of policies that can be offered. All policies, for instance, will have to adhere to nationally set coverage mandates.

Thus anyone who owns private coverage not purchased through the government exchange – i.e., not classified as a “qualified health benefits plan” – will lose coverage, as delineated on p. 19, section 102(c) of HR 3200.

In the original bill, HSAs were to be eliminated immediately; as amended, however, such accounts, as purchased under a current group health plan, will be eliminated after five years.

It is also telling that the House Ways & Means Committee defeated two amendmentsseeking to protect private health insurance plans, including HSAs.

Individual private insurance coverage aside, millions more are going to be indirectly forced to change coverage as small employers dump their plans and force people on to the government plan.

This, at least, is what The Lewin Group found in its analysis of HR 3200. Now a word about Lewin: It is not a conservative think tank, but one of the most respected (as the Post notes, the firm is widely used both by state and federal health gurus) health care policy consulting firms in the country.

Moreover, the fact that it was recently bought by UnitedHealth, if anything, tilts its credentials even further to the left – given that many of the big insurers(but not small and medium-sized firms) support ObamaCare. And why shouldn’t they? The plan requires everyone to buy health insurance, regardless of whether individual consumers want or need it.

Anyway, this is what Lewin found:

  • 48 percent of privately insured Americans would transition out of private insurance. Of the estimated 172.5 million people with private health insurance, there would be a decline of 83.4 million people with private coverage.
  • 56 percent of Americans with employer-based coverage would lose their current insurance.

Of the estimated 158.1 million Americans with employer-based coverage, 88.1 million people would be shifted out of their current employer-based plan.”

The reasoning here is simple: small employers will find it cheaper to dump people on to the public option plan and let taxpayers foot the bill. Think about it: What is more economical for a small business? To pay an 8 percent health care tax penalty? Or pay health care for its employees?

Other folks will lose insurance because some employers will not even be able to pay the 8 percent tax. And that leads us to the job losses that the Obama plan will cause. More on that in the next post.

…  PS – Don’t miss Congressman Joe Wilson’s next town hall meeting at Lexington Intermediate School tonight at 6.

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Written by Jameson Taylor

August 20, 2009 at 11:29 am

Posted in Healthcare, Insurance, Liberty

Tagged with ,

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