My column today delves into the Byzantine world of the Democrats’ government-run health care takeover. I filed it before the latest CBO budget analysis assailing the costs of Obamacare — a predictable outcome which simply bolsters my point. I linked the other day to the incredible flow chart created by the GOP team at the Joint Economic Committee. It deserves far and wide dissemination. This will be the future if taxpayers sit by and do nothing. (And check this out: The nutroots did not like the chart. Update: Some people are misunderstanding me and CrabbyCon’s chart. The point is that none of the lefties wanted the chart’s info to get to the viewing public.)
Latest legislative machinations:
On the House side, Ways and Means helped Obamacare clear another hurdle.
The House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation early Friday to overhaul the health care system and expand insurance coverage after a marathon session in which Democrats easily turned back Republican efforts to amend the bill.The 23-to-18 vote came just hours after the director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas W. Elmendorf, shook up the political landscape by suggesting that none of the major health care bills would significantly slow the growth of health spending…Two other House panels, the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Education and Labor Committee, are working on the legislation.Democrats said the actions in the Senate and in the Ways and Means Committee created momentum for passage of the legislation, President Obama’s top domestic priority. But in both committees, the votes generally followed party lines, indicating the lack of consensus on how to finance coverage for the uninsured.
Kimberley Strassel says on the Senate side, Sen. Charles Grassley is the key.
Inside the monstrous Obamacare bureaucracy
by Michelle Malkin
If you think government is too big and too costly, wait until Obamacare kicks in. The Congressional Budget Office put the price tag of the House Democrats’ health care takeover plans at $1.5 trillion over 10 years. But the CBO’s fine print included a tell-tale caveat:
“We have not yet estimated the administrative costs to the federal government of implementing the specified policies, nor have we accounted for all of the proposal’s likely effects on spending for other federal programs.”
You don’t need an accounting degree or clairvoyant powers. The administrative costs and spillover spending effects will be astronomical. Look at existing federal programs. In 1966, the Office of Management and Budget put the total taxpayer costs for Medicare at $64 million. In 2011, Medicare costs are expected to balloon to nearly $500 billion. Medicaid cost $770 million in 1966. By 2011, that program will cost taxpayers an estimated $264 billion. The Virginia-based Council for Affordable Health Insurance estimated that the administrative expenses of both programs last decade were 66% higher than those of private sector health insurance companies.
And we ain’t seen nothing yet. House Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee sifted through their opponents’ 1,018-page health care bill and released a dizzying flow chart detailing the Byzantine bureaucracy Obamacare would create. Washington would become the home of at least 31 new federal programs, agencies, and commissions to oversee the government-run health insurance regime.
Because 32 “czars” isn’t enough, the Democrat plan would add another overlord to the Obama administration. The new “Health Choices Commissioner” would helm the new “Health Choices Administration” (Section 141 of the bill) – separate from the already existing Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (formerly the Health Care Financing Administration), the Veterans Health Administration, and the Indian Health Service.
Because the government has done such a boffo job managing the near-bankrupt Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, the Democrats have proposed creating a “Public Health Investment Fund” and a “Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund.” The latter would create a “transparent and functional marketplace for individuals and small employers to comparison shop among private and public insurers.”
No matter that state insurance departments already operate such systems. Health care must be “fixed.” The federal cure is redundancy.
The Obamacare bill also creates a new “Bureau of Health Information” (not to be confused with the already existing National Center for Health Statistics) within the department of Health and Human Services. The BHI will be led by a new “Assistant Secretary for Health Information.” The new assistant secretary will coordinate with the recently-created “National Coordinator for Health Information Technology” – who is responsible for monitoring the $19.5 billion in the stimulus law to implement “a nationwide interoperable, privacy-protected health information technology infrastructure.”
New bureaucracies always have old special interests to appease. The Bureau of Health Information will house its own “Office of Civil Rights” and “Office of Minority Health.” The information czar will be required to collect health statistics in the “primary language” of ethnic minorities – and thus, the need for a new “language demonstration program” to showcase their efforts. Obamacare will also ensure “cultural and linguistics competence training” and establish “a youth public health program to expose and recruit high school students into public health careers.” The government health care juggernaut must be fed and staffed, after all.
Providing more stimulus for taxpayer-funded jobs, the Democrats’ bill would add a new “Senior Advisor for Health Care Fraud” and require the Attorney General to appoint a “Senior Counsel for Health Care Fraud Enforcement.” There’s already a national Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program, but who’s counting?
To coordinate all the new bureaucrats, Obamacare would create a new “Health Care Program Integrity Coordinating Council” to “to coordinate strategic planning among federal agencies involved in health care integrity and oversight.”
To make sure all the existing local and state environmental public health agencies don’t feel lonely, the Democrats’ plan creates a new “Coordinated Environmental Public Health Network” to “build upon and coordinate among existing nvironmental and health data collection systems and create state environmental public health networks.”
A new “National Health Care Workforce Commission” will be “tasked with reviewing health care workforce and projected workforce needs.” New funding will be available for a “demonstration program to improve immunization coverage” that would enable government busybodies to send reminders or recalls for patients or providers, or home visits.”
Who’ll be looking out for you? The House bill creates a “public plan ombudsman” and a “special health insurance exchange inspector general” to police spending and guard against waste, fraud, and abuse. Given the sad fate of aggressive watchdogs in the age of Obama, however, these positions will end up like every other new agency, commission, task force, and office created to serve the federal health care beast: black holes.