Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Failing Health Care Reform Bill III - Transparency

Obama vowed to bring transparency to government. Ironically, he is now identified with a massive, secretive and sometimes confusing campaign to pass health care reform.

We hear about backroom deals with blue dog senators that do not pass the smell test. In most instances the bill was drafted behind closed doors without significant dialogue in public hearings explaining how it works. It was initially presented to Congress and the Senate without any explanation as to how the costs would be covered. The public was simply supposed to trust them.

When details on financing came out, the vast bulk of the costs were to be underwritten by savings which the plan was supposed to generate. The proponents skipped over the details about how these costs would be wrenched out of the system. Obviously they were placing a lot of the burden on new regulations that they were also proposing.

I for one am cynical about cost reduction. History has proved that regulations coming out of the New Deal era were totally ineffective in reducing costs in the long run. Moreover, our government has proved that it has a rapacious appetite for spending saved moneys rather than paying off debt. I have watched the Department of Defense save costs decade after decade, but somehow the actual totals go up. We have already seen the Obama Administration’s propensity to spend. Last year the administration was downplaying the long term cost of TARP loans, because the banks would pay it back. Now that some of the banks are repaying the loans, Obama seems to be looking for ways to put the money into other give away programs.

Moreover, there are a myriad of taxes, including medicare premium increases, being proposed. Virtually every one of these taxes have been met by a maelstrom of criticism.

The sheer size of the bill also prevented thoughtful and thorough discussion of the ramifications of the plan. Most of the public, including me, does not understand all that the it entails.

Democrats charge the tea party types with distortion when they claim that the Federal government is planning to kill grandmother in order to save costs. The claim is easy to make, however, when no one can give an adequate explanation as to why that will not be the case. The cost savings are largely dependent on removing “unnecessary” expenses incurred in the final months of life. Admittedly a large portion of the costs are related to the final illness. Moreover, the present tends to enable incurring excessive expense for heroic but futile efforts to extend life. Who is going to make the decision as to which costs are unnecessary? Some bureaucrat?

The sprouting Tea Party movement has probably benefitted most from the non-transparency. They smell a conspiracy and have found that many others do, too. It is only human nature to believe that anyone who is hiding something does not want us to know the truth. I do not believe that the Democrats ever took them seriously enough until after they showed their muscle in Massachusetts. And then it was too late.

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