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Correct In Spite Of Themselves

On Saturday, the Boston Globe published an editorial on health care financing reform where they actually got something right.

Naturally, being the Globe, they also got far more things wrong. And the parts that they got right were entirely accidental. But in looking at how they got things wrong, they gave us a glimpse into just how the idiots are thinking.

The theme of the piece is "paying more to the government for your health care is a good thing." The specific topic is the taxes on so-called "Cadillac" health plans -- the really, really good, comprehensive health plans that are the envy of so many.

The editorial starts off wrong, and just keeps getting wronger.

THE TAX on "Cadillac'' health insurance plans serves two purposes: to raise money to help lower-income families get coverage, and to give insurance companies a new incentive to keep health costs under control.

Um, no. The insurance companies will NOT suck up the tax. They will just put it on top of the already-exorbitant premiums on those plans. In essence, if you want a really good plan, you must be punished for your "greed."

The tax, which is applied against insurance companies but won't take effect for eight more years, will kick in at high enough rates -- $27,500 for a family plan -- that most Americans won't be affected. Others will have time to seek lower-cost alternatives.

So don't worry about it, it's years away. And it won't affect YOU. And those greedy SOBs who get these nice plans will have time to see the error of their greedy ways and go cheaper.

It's not surprising, however, that some Massachusetts cities and towns, with their unusually high health insurance costs, would find their plans to be subject to the tax. A recent Globe series demonstrated just how out of whack municipal health plans are with those in the private sector. It also showed how easy it would be for many cities and towns to lower their health costs by joining the state plan or transferring some retirees to Medicare. If the Cadillac tax serves as a wakeup call to Massachusetts communities, it's a necessary one.

THERE IT IS. The one thing that the Globe got right, by accident. The problem isn't private companies that offer these plans, but governments. These plans aren't being paid for by the private sector, but by the average citizens.

But the way to fix such things isn't for the state government to tell the lower levels of government how to run their business. Instead, the state should simply tell the cities and towns that if they want to spend that kind of money that way, they should finance it themselves and not look to the state to pick up the tab.

Some Bay State communities already offer their workers policies exceeding $30,000 in which there are no deductibles, $5 copays for office visits, reduced fees for health clubs, and access to every hospital.

Those benefits may sound like a dream, but they carry few incentives for cost control; workers can simply seek out the highest-cost provider whenever they want. Tailoring plans more closely to the actual needs of beneficiaries would promote savings and efficiency.

Again, there's nothing wrong with that. If insurance companies are willing to offer these policies, and people are willing to pay the premiums for them, so be it. But it's the taxpayers that are paying the premiums, and it's the taxpayers who should be fixing the situation -- not the state simply looking to get its cut.

Meanwhile, some Massachusetts firms have concerns about another funding mechanism in the health reform bill, the tax on medical devices. These range from surgical drapes to bedside monitors to the panoply of synthetic joints, implantable defibrillators, and other spare parts that keep human bodies going past their "use by'' date. Senator Scott Brown wants to repeal the tax, which will go into effect in 2013.

Here again, we see what is truly important: not that people get the care they need, not that we continue to be the world's leader in medical innovations, but the government get its cut of the pie.

But the 2.3 percent will be largely offset by the boost in business created by having 30 million more Americans with insurance, and thereby in a position to use medical devices. All device makers, domestic and foreign, will have to pay the tax, so no firm should gain a competitive edge. The industry argues that foreign makers could benefit slightly since disproportionately more of their sales are overseas and thus not subject to the tax. But US firms, with more sales in this country, will profit more than foreign manufacturers from the boom of newly insured patients.

"But you'll make it up in volume!" How many times have we all heard THAT lie?

There is no disguising the fact that some businesses will pay more in taxes because of the health reform bill, and that individuals with the most expensive health plans will probably pay more for them because insurers will be subject to the Cadillac tax. But in creating incentives to trim costs, the Cadillac tax is good public policy. And applying a modest tax on device makers while also giving them 30 million new customers is a fair way to pay for a significant improvement in national health. No benefit comes without any cost, but these are reasonable ways to achieve the greater good of extending insurance to more people and reducing the medical cost spiral.

I am highly confident that the "Cadillac Tax" will never come to pass. While it fits the socialistic model of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need" and plays into the "punish the rich and successful for daring to be rich and successful" theme that embodies so much of the modern Democratic Party philosophy, the simple fact is that the majority of people with those plans are in unions and the public service sector (many both -- the majority of union membership these days is in the public sector, not the private sector). City and town employees, state employees, school and college employees, union members -- these are large portions of the Democrats' base. And the message they send is wonderfully schizophrenic -- "soak the bastards with the really great health plans, but NOT US!" Any "Cadillac tax" that could get past the Democrats would be so full of loopholes as to be utterly meaningless.

But in that one point, the Globe is right. The benefits offered to many public employees are grotesquely disproportionate and unsustainable.

However, the best way to fix that is not to simply slap another tax on it. (That's the Pavlovian response from so many liberals to problems.) It's to simply face reality and say that the gravy days are over.

But in the meantime, it's sure fun as hell to see the liberals' core beliefs (I can't quite call them "principles") being applied to their own core constituencies, and hearing them squeal. It's music to my ears.


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Comments (15)

One major purpose of Obamac... (Below threshold)
Bob:

One major purpose of Obamacare is to kill off all private insurance by placing restrictions on how the companies operate and taxing them to death. This is step one in achieving the single-payer system, which BHO and his minions want. When faced with the requirement that they cover everyone for everything in an unlimited amount (no pre-existing condition exclusions, no yearly or lifetime caps), insurers will raise premiums. Then the liberals will say the companies are "cashing in," and will move to stop the increases or impose a "public option" (government option).

Instead of a special tax on... (Below threshold)
James H:

Instead of a special tax on Cadillac plans, why not make all healthcare plans taxable income?

Three points to guarantee e... (Below threshold)
Don L:

Three points to guarantee election for any new candidate:

Require all government employees (including the Whitehouse) and unions to be on Obamcare -subject to the death panels composed of random citizens) or go to jail.

Term limits

Jail mandatory for (triple punishment for any pol caught taking or arranging voting bribes)

I have never seen a more ra... (Below threshold)
Victory is Mao's:

I have never seen a more racist post at Wizbang.

You goose stepping, white sheeted FILTH!

Peace.

I think DJ's Whiskey Tax po... (Below threshold)
epador:

I think DJ's Whiskey Tax post is quite appropriately nearby.

Welcome back, Vic, Missed you!

James H:... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

James H:

Instead of a special tax on Cadillac plans, why not make all healthcare plans taxable income?

Because here in Obama's America, we believe that "we're all better off when we spread the wealth around". (/sarc)

Besides, do you really think that's not where it's headed when the Government decides it needs more money to pay for all of the empty promises ?

"But in creating incentives... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"But in creating incentives to trim costs, the Cadillac tax is good public policy. "

Really?

And exactly how does it trim the cost of health care? How does it reduce the cost of an x-ray or MRI? How is it reducing the cost of bandages and gloves? How is it reducing the cost of scalpels, sutures and staples? How is it reducing the cost of antibiotics and chemotherapy?

Oh, wait. It doesn't do anything to reduce the cost of health care? It just adds an additional cost on top of the cost of health care you say?

Big surprise that is.

So the plan is to add expenses to health care to make it so expensive that people get cheaper insurance that covers less so they will not be able to get as much health care so the aggregate spending on health care goes down.

The plan isn't to 'reform' ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

The plan isn't to 'reform' health care. The plan is to kill it so that the government can take over.

Dang, GF beat me to it...</... (Below threshold)
Gmac:

Dang, GF beat me to it...

You didn't really think this was about 'reform' now did you?

Seriously...

Its about CONTROL, telling you what you can have and having YOUR tax dollars pay for it. That the government workers are going to get hit first because they have lavish unsupportable polices simply means that their ox will be gored first, unless municipalities and states raise taxes and from the looks of that idea it be as popular as the original 'Health Care' bill was/is.

TANSTAAFL

I had to roll my eyes at th... (Below threshold)

I had to roll my eyes at the mention of the tax being offset by the boost in business. You correctly identified that as a lie, but even if "business" did boom by creating an increase in demand, care providers and insurers would be working at a loss because of price controls. At least that's currently how it appears to me. Little doubt, there will be further changes beforehand.

Tax, tax, tax. That's all B... (Below threshold)
914:

Tax, tax, tax. That's all Barry and crew do! Well, besides capitulating to foreign enemies that is.

You've got a goose that lay... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

You've got a goose that lays golden eggs. The problem is, the goose doesn't lay ENOUGH gold for everyone to sit around and wait for the next egg to drop. The eggs are gradually getting larger, year by year - but that's not enough.

So, for a farmer (or someone who's got some connection with reality) the thing to do would be to try to BREED the goose, get more of 'em laying. But that takes time - and nobody wants to wait for an egg to hatch.

Obviously the goose must be full of gold, right? So the thing to do is cut it open - scoop out all the gold at once and party hearty. But the naysayers are going "If the goose is full of gold, wouldn't the thing be too heavy to pick up?"

The believers are all for cutting open the goose NOW, to get at the gold they're expecting to find. They don't care how much the goose weighs - they just want the gold.

So in 2006, they started slowly cutting open the goose. There's a bit more gold, and a lot of blood and yelling, but they're getting more gold and that's all that's important. Yet... the eggs are getting smaller. How can this be? The eggs ALWAYS get larger, don't they?

The eggs are smaller and less frequent now, they've not found a lot of gold yet and the goose isn't dead - but it's sure not healthy and not likely to get any better without some serious help.

The Dems seem to think if they just keep cutting more and more they'll find the gold. It's got to be there somewhere - the IRS finds some each year, so there's got to be LOTS more just waiting to be plucked out of the goose. Their vision's real strong on that - all they've got to do is come up with enough gold and they'll be heroes.

At least... to some.

California's goose is a bit further along than the rest of the country - and you can already see what's happening. The 'Golden State' is well past broke, the people running it have an ideology that's just plain ruining the state, and they dare not pause to let the goose recover because then they'd have to cut back on doling out the gold that keeps them in office. And they've been telling their supporters all along that there WAS more gold, all they had to do was cut a bit deeper!

As California goes, so will go the nation. Except, maybe, for Texas.

Oh, wait - is 'goose' a racist code word? I forget - there's so damn many of them...

I have yet to hear word one... (Below threshold)
jim m:

I have yet to hear word one from this administration about actually reducing he cost of health care. I have heard talk about raising taxes on insurance. I have heard talk about reducing payments for healthcare that has already been given. I have heard talk of making healthcare more expensive so people who earn a living consume less of it and then we can give it away free to those who don't have insurance.

But I haven't heard them talk about reducing costs. No one has said anything about reducing the cost of regulations. No one has talked about reducing the unnecessary doctor's office visits that are required under most managed care plans. No one has talked about reducing the cost of bogus malpractice claims. No one has talked about reducing defensive medicine costs. No one has talked about increasing competition (in fact the administration has talked about eliminating competition)

That is no one in the administration. Conservatives have talked about these things and have been ignored.

Unfortunately, the libs are too stupid to realize that they have been duped in this. They still haven't figured it out. They want to live in a world of price controls where everything is at a fixed price. They never think about what happens when (as in the case of government health care payments) that fixed price doesn't cover actual costs.

I for one am looking forwar... (Below threshold)
klrtz1:

I for one am looking forward to standing in line to ask a government bureaucrat for the piece of paper that allows me to go stand in line to see my government assigned nurse that decides if I'm sick enough to be allowed to see my government assigned doctor because I just know I will meet some really good people in those lines because there will never be any government bureaucrats or politically well connected liberals waiting there with me, only regular joe's and jane's like you and me and I know we'll have a great time in those lines telling each other all about our illnesses and swapping tales about other lines we have waited in but don't ask me to join in the protest songs, with this cough I don't think I'd sound very good at it.

I just hope the doctor has some medicine left by then to give me if I should get to see him, knock on wood.

Thank you, VIM!I'v... (Below threshold)
Greg:

Thank you, VIM!

I've missed your witty comments! Too funny. People still believe you are a troll, but I believe you!

Victory Is Ours!




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