Thursday, October 15, 2009
Obamacare - Opposing Viewpoints From Those Most Involved
Grassley: Senate Health Plan Depletes Medicare, Raises Premiums, Thwarts Constitution
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 12:56 PM
By: Jim Meyers
The healthcare reform proposal that forces people to buy health insurance could be unconstitutional — and the government's "public option" insurance plan will ultimately lead to the rationing of medical care, Sen. Charles Grassley tells Newsmax.
The Iowa Republican — the ranking GOP member of the Senate Finance Committee — also said the plan before Congress is bound to shift "leftward" as is moves through the legislative process.
Newsmax.TV's Ashley Martella noted that the Finance Committee on Tuesday voted 14-9 in favor of an $829 billion, 10-year healthcare remake, with only one Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, voting for the bill. He asked Sen. Grassley about her vote.
I couldn't vote yes for several reasons, and I don't know her reason for voting," Grassley responded.
"But you want to remember one thing: She's pretty meticulous and she moves ahead, and she is not committed to following this thing all the way through the process. That's what she's told me. And it better not get any more leftward or they will lose her."
Grassley added that when the bill moves leftward it may even have a "public option" in it.
Under such a plan, individuals and businesses would be allowed to join a public healthcare insurance system — which critics contend would eventually bankrupt private insurers by offering cheaper healthcare insurance.
"When you have a public option, the Heritage Foundation said, all these people are going to opt out and go into the government plan because the government's not a competitor, it's a predator," Grassley warned.
"When you do that you're going to move into an area where pretty soon everybody's in the government-run plan, and pretty soon you have what they have in Canada — a government-run plan with no choice, with rationing."
Grassley explained why he opposed the Finance Committee bill.
"First of all, it takes $404 billion out of Medicare, and you want to remember that Medicare is in bad shape anyway. So why would you take that money and put it into a new government entitlement program?
"Secondly, this is the first time in the 225-year history of our country that we have forced you as a constituent to buy a product. You've been free to buy or not to buy, but now for the first time you're going to have to buy health insurance. And if you don't buy it, the IRS is going to tax the family $1,500."
As to whether this provision is constitutional, Grassley said: "I'm not a lawyer but I've listened to some lawyers speak on this. I don't think we've ever had this issue before of having to buy something, and a lot of constitutional lawyers are saying it is unconstitutional, or at least a violation of the Tenth Amendment."
That amendment provides that powers not granted to the federal government nor prohibited to the states "are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
Grassley continued: "Maybe states can do this, but can the federal government do it? So I have my doubts.
"But here's the untold story — 85 percent of people in this country have health insurance already. So what does the Congressional Budget Office as well as the industry say? That premiums are going to go up for that 85 percent of the people because of our not doing anything to keep them from going up.
"What is this healthcare debate mostly about for those 85 percent of the people? They're tired of their premiums going up so much over the past four or five years. Then you're going to have what's called the individual mandate — you have to buy insurance — and you still have 25 million people who don't have health insurance."
Martella asked if Grassley agrees with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's assertion that the bill approved by the Finance Committee will never come before the Senate.
"I 100 percent agree with it," Grassley declared. "That doesn't mean that none of it will come before the Senate. What he's saying is, it's not going to have an identity all by itself because it's going to be merged with the Senate Health Committee bill that came out of committee back in July when Senator Kennedy was chairing that committee.
"Understand that this thing has moved leftward even in the Finance Committee. I was part of a group of six negotiating what was supposed to be a bipartisan bill. The White House pulled the rug out from those negotiations because they wanted to move ahead.
"So they moved ahead in a partisan way and the bill moved leftward in the Finance Committee. And when it's merged with the Senate Health Committee bill it's going to move more leftward.
"Then when you look at all the left-wing ideas that [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi has in the House of Representatives, with her vast majority over there, it's going to move further to the left."
AND SPEAKING OF THE DEVIL...
Pelosi makes case for government-run health option
Thursday, October 15, 2009
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the case is growing stronger for allowing the government to sell health insurance in competition with private companies, contending recent attacks from the industry should dispel any doubts.
"The need for a public option is very clear," the California Democrat told reporters at her weekly news conference, making the argument as lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol work to finalize sweeping legislation extending coverage to millions of the uninsured.
Whether the Senate bill will include a public plan in any form is a major question mark, but "our House bill will have a public option," the California Democrat declared.
"Anyone who had any doubts about the need for such an option need only look at the behavior of the health insurance industry this week," Pelosi said. "The idea that we would have health insurance reform without a public option becomes less likely."
She was referring to an industry-funded study earlier that said insurance premiums would rise under health overhaul legislation advanced by the Senate Finance Committee earlier this week. Pelosi also referenced an insurance industry ad campaign targeted at seniors.
The speaker has been on the attack against health insurers for months, but the latest developments clearly strengthened her resolve to make them pay. She also said the House was now considering adding to its health care bill a $6.7 billion-a-year fee on insurance companies that is part of the Senate Finance package.
"There are some things we'd like to see happen to the insurance companies that they might not like," Pelosi said.
Although it's been clear for months that the House health overhaul bill would likely include a public plan, its design remains unsettled. However, the stronger version favored by liberals, one that would use reimbursement rates to providers based on Medicare rates appears to be gaining favor.
Pelosi favors that version though she said a final decision hadn't been made. In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid is weighing whether to include some version of a public plan as he works to merge the Finance bill with a more liberal version approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Because of opposition from moderate Senate Democrats, any public plan Reid does include would likely be some type of compromise, such as leaving the decision on a public plan to states, or offering public coverage only as a backstop in areas where one insurer has a lock on the market, the approach favored by moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe, who has considerable leverage as the lone GOP vote in favor of the health care bill in the Finance Committee.
Pelosi didn't rule out or in supporting any such compromise but said that when the House and Senate meet for negotiations on their respective health care bills, she wants the House to have passed the strongest public plan version possible.
"I want to send our conferees to the table with the most muscle for the middle class," she said.
A spokesman for an industry group, America's Health Insurance Plans, didn't immediately respond to a request for response to Pelosi's comments. The insurance industry and other business groups contend a public plan could drive private insurers out of business because they wouldn't be able to compete with the weight of the federal government.
Negotiations were continuing in the House and Senate with the aim of beginning floor debate in each chamber within weeks, though likely not this month. Obama wants to sign a bill this year. Overall, the legislation would carry a price tag around $900 billion over 10 years, require most people for the first time to purchase insurance, provide subsidies to help lower-income people do so, and put new requirements on insurance companies to prevent them from charging much more to older people or denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
The House and Senate would also have to reconcile the very different methods the two chambers use to pay for their health bills. The House legislation would raise taxes on high earners, whereas the Senate Finance bill would tax high-value health insurance plans.
Labor unions strongly oppose the insurance plan tax, fearing it would hit their members. The No. 2 Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said Wednesday that he had similar concerns and that the bill probably will be changed to tax fewer high-cost health plans.
"Of course, that will cost money," Durbin said, adding that he did not know where it would come from.
Posted by Brett at 5:25 PM