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Here come government health care price controls; Update: Obamacare 2.0$$ unveiled

By Michelle Malkin  •  February 22, 2010 09:52 AM

Scroll for updates…

Earlier this month, I flagged the White House jihad against Anthem Blue Cross of California over its rate increases (see Feb. 9, 2010, Will the White House demand that every business “justify” its price increases?).

That campaign has now become the new cornerstone of the Demcare revival.

Via the NYT:

President Obama will propose on Monday giving the federal government new power to block excessive rate increases by health insurance companies, as he rolls out comprehensive legislation to revamp the nation’s health care system, White House officials said Sunday.

The president’s legislation aims to bridge differences between the bills adopted by the House and Senate late last year, and to frame his debate with Republicans over health policy at a televised meeting on Thursday.

By focusing on the effort to tighten regulation of insurance costs, a new element not included in either the House or Senate bills, Mr. Obama is seizing on outrage over recent premium increases of up to 39 percent announced by Anthem Blue Cross of California and moving to portray the Democrats’ health overhaul as a way to protect Americans from profiteering insurers.

But the power grab is an admission that Demcare will result in massive premium hikes. And Republicans should pound on that fact if they plan on attending the Oba-kabuki dog-and-pony show this week:

Republican leaders had not formally accepted the president’s invitation to the meeting. But the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said on Sunday that he would attend. “I intend to be there, and my members will be there and ready to participate,” Mr. McConnell said on Fox News.

The president’s new provision also seemed to offer Republicans an opening for a new line of criticism — that Mr. Obama and Democrats are anticipating the possibility of hefty price increases for health insurance even after their big legislation is adopted.

Mr. McConnell said the president, in proposing a new version of the Democrats’ legislation, seemed to prejudging the outcome of the session. “If they are going to lay out the plan they want to pass four days in advance,” he said on Fox, “What are we discussing on Thursday?”

Via the Daily Caller, the supposedly “stopgap” powers will last…indefinitely:

“This goes into effect immediately, while the exchanges take a few years to get up and running. And we know the insurers aren’t wasting any time in jacking up rates,” the White House official told the Daily Caller Sunday night.

However, the administration official said the government’s regulatory powers would not be diminished or eliminated once the government-run insurance exchanges are fully operational.

Of course not.

Don Boudreuax has 1970s flashbacks:

Those of us who remember the 1970s recall the frolics sparked by America’s last great experiment with widespread price caps – namely, those on oil and natural gas. The resulting short supplies gave us the thrill of waiting in long lines – and sometimes even getting into fistfights – for the privilege of buying a few gallons of gasoline. People literally chilled out in their homes for want of heat. The Nixon administration imposed a national speed limit of 55 MPH. These and other consequences certainly made for a memorable decade.

What cool adventures await us if Mr. Obama succeeds in giving Uncle Sam power to control insurance rates? Reduced coverage? Hidden fees aimed at skirting government regulations? Surly service? More trouble and delays collecting on our policies?


Update 10:20am – Obamacare 2.0$$ has been unveiled. Philip Klein sums it up: “Almost every provision in Obama’s new proposal will make it more costly than the Senate bill.”

You can read the repackaged government health care takeover plan here. Gone: Ben Nelson’s Cornhusker Kickback. Still there: Big Labor’s Cadillac Tax Exemption Buy-Off.

Jamie Dupree outlines:

The excise tax on so-called Cadillac health insurance is in this bill, with a slightly higher threshhold for where it kicks in.

The penalties for employers who have more than 50 workers and do not provide health insurance coverage would go from $750 in the Senate bill to $2,000.

Also not in this bill, the infamous “Cornhusker Kickback” won by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) in the Senate bill.

As for how much it will all cost, officials sidestepped a direct answer on that, saying that all of the changes are paid for, and that the plan will not increase the deficit. That most likely won’t wash with critics on the GOP side.

Also still in the bill? Government abortion funding. Steve Ertelt reports.

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