The NY Times – the gift that keeps on giving.
Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Finance Committee, said Mr. Obama indicated that he “might consider” the idea of taxing some employer-provided health benefits, a proposal favored by Mr. Baucus.
“It’s on the table,” Mr. Baucus said. “It’s an option.”
The White House pushed back, saying Mr. Obama “made it very clear” that he preferred his own revenue proposals. Mr. Obama campaigned against taxing health benefits last year. Labor unions and many employers adamantly oppose a limit on tax-free health benefits.
But in a report on Tuesday, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning research and advocacy group, said, “Congress is unlikely to be able to finance health reform legislation that includes universal coverage unless it limits the exclusion of employers’ health insurance payments from workers’ income and payroll taxes.”
Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, who is battling brain cancer, did not attend the White House meeting and is not expected on Capitol Hill this week. But the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, of which he is chairman, met for more than an hour Tuesday to sift through options.
To help control costs, the administration indicated support on Tuesday for a proposal to strengthen a federal panel that recommends how much Medicare should pay doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers.
Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, recently introduced a bill that would expand the role of the panel, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, and give its recommendations the force of law. Senators said Mr. Obama and his aides had expressed general support for such a change, which would establish the panel as an independent rate-setting body in the executive branch.
Several senators said Mr. Obama had conveyed a sense of urgency and spoken emphatically about the importance of revamping the health care system in a way that would reduce costs.
“The president made clear that history will judge us by whether this bill controls health costs,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.
The only thing obvious from this is that these people know absolutely nothing about economics. You don’t “control” costs. But, if you control PRICES, you will get tremendous market distortions.
To pay for all this, they will have to raise taxes enormously. In competing with private insurers, they will drive out the private firms, which will drive UP costs, and thus prices. In controlling prices, they will drive people out of the medical profession. Oh wait, already happening.
Increasing the supply of doctors, for example, would increase access to care but could make it more difficult to rein in costs.
So, the Obama administration is either going to control costs, or make them increase. Okay.
Of course, once you’re insured, you’ll have no more worries about getting care. Or not.
Even people with insurance have problems finding doctors.
Miriam Harmatz, a lawyer in Miami, said: “My longtime primary care doctor left the practice of medicine five years ago because she could not make ends meet. The same thing happened a year later. Since then, many of the doctors I tried to see would not take my insurance because the payments were so low.”
So, Obamacare includes: controlling costs through increasing them; insuring greater access to care by reducing it; and taxing everyone to pay for this mess. Yep, that’s the change I was hoping for.