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Republican socialist health care

Posted by Richard on September 4, 2009

Inevitably, when the Democrats propose some radical, leftist, big-government program that moves us closer to socialism, some Republicans will support a slightly different radical, leftist, big-government program that moves us closer to socialism at a slightly slower pace or along a different path. Case in point: Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Judd Gregg (R-NH) are co-sponsoring Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-OR) "Healthy Americans Act," S. 391 (PDF). Here are the first two paragraphs of the summary (emphasis added):

Requires each adult individual to have the opportunity to purchase a Healthy Americans Private Insurance Plan (HAPI), which is: (1) a plan offered by a state; or (2) an employer-sponsored health coverage plan. Makes individuals who are not enrolled in another specified health plan and who are not opposed to coverage for religious reasons responsible for enrolling themselves and their dependent children in a HAPI plan offered through their state of residence. Sets forth penalties for failure to enroll.

Establishes standardized coverage and state options for HAPI plans. Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to promulgate guidelines concerning the benefits, items, and services to be covered. Sets forth requirements for setting premiums. Requires the Secretary to establish the Healthy America Advisory Committee to provide annual recommendations concerning modifications to the benefits, items, and services required.

Note the double-talk: It seems to "require" us only to "have the opportunity," but there are "penalties for failure to enroll." And the "guidelines" that it requires the Secretary of HHS to "promulgate" are essentially mandatory. Other key features:

  • It raises federal health care spending by over six times as much as Obamacare.
  • It outlaws all plans that don't meet the detailed government requirements, thus severely limiting our choices.
  • It requires all employers and individuals to "make shared responsibility payments for HAPI plan premiums," with stiff fines for those who don't.
  • It directs the IRS to collect the money, with employees' "shared responsibility payments"  withheld from their paychecks.
  • It restricts the tax deductibility and controls content of pharmaceutical advertising, and it lets the FDA determine whether a new drug intended to treat a condition for which other drugs exist offers "new value." 
  • It puts virtually all aspects of health care under the control of the federal or state governments, establishing among others: 
    • "school-based health centers" 
    • Chronic Care Education Centers
    • state Health Help Agencies to administer HAPI plans and "promote prevention and wellness"
    • State Choices for Long-Term Care Program
    • Healthy Americans Public Health Trust Fund

I think it's pretty awful, but I'll give the senators this: They accomplish all this and more in only 168 pages, compared to the 1018 pages of H.R. 3200. That brevity and efficiency of language earns a bit of grudging respect.

The Club for Growth has specifically targeted Sen. Bennett (who is up for re-election in 2010), sending a letter about S.391 to 3200 likely delegates to the Utah GOP convention and running a TV ad state-wide. You can see the ad here and click through to the letter. You can also help fund the ad, as I did.

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One Response to “Republican socialist health care”

  1. David Bryant said

    Why must these people torture the language? Exactly what does “requiring everyone to have an opportunity” mean, anyway? An opportunity either does or does not exist in the mind of the person considering his options, and two different people confronting exactly the same circumstances may not reach the same conclusion when pondering the question “Is this an opportunity?”

    Anyway, the authors missed an opportunity to coin an even more serendipitous acronym when they skipped the Healthy Americans Plan of Private Insurance (HAPPI) in favor of the innocuous Healthy Americans Private Insurance Plan (HAPI). 🙂 dcb

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