If Democrats learned anything from the HillaryCare defeat, it was the danger of admitting to their wish to federalize the health market. Since returning to power, they've pursued a new strategy: to stealthily and incrementally expand government control. "What no one is paying attention to in the [stimulus]," says Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, "is that Democrats are making a big grab at the health-care sector."
First grab: the children.
Initially designed for children of working-poor families, this new Super-Schip will be double in size, and even kids whose parents make $65,000 a year will be eligible.
Given that the US median average household income is just over $44,000 per year, that means that nearly 65% of American households qualify as "working-poor" and thus get free health insurance.
And the kicker:
The Congressional Budget Office estimates 2.4 million individuals will drop their private coverage for the public program.
Read that again. These are people who already HAVE health coverage; all they're doing is taking advantage of a government "freebie".
And yes, it does get worse.
Under "stimulus," Medicaid is now on offer not to just poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011. The federal government is graciously footing the whole bill. The legislation also forbids states to apply income tests in most cases.
House Democrat Henry Waxman was so thrilled by this blowout, it was left to Republicans to remind him that the very banking millionaires he dragged to the Hill last year for a grilling would now qualify for government aid. His response? A GOP proposal to limit subsidies to Americans with incomes under $1 million was accepted during markup, but had disappeared by final passage. In this new health-care nirvana, even the rich are welcome. CBO estimates? An additional 1.2 million on the federal Medicaid dime in 2009.
And if that wasn't enough:
The "stimulus" also hijacks Cobra, a program that lets the unemployed retain access to their former company health benefits -- usually for about 18 months. The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And here's the kicker: Whereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. CBO estimates? Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009.
So let's see; the average COBRA cost is $1,069 per month, so times 65%, times seven million people, times ten years.
Oh well, that's only $4.8 billion a month, or $583 billion over ten years if you're counting -- plus the minor detail of tens of billions more on Medicaid. All on the taxpayer's dime, and all coming out of the pockets of working people, of course.
But what do the Obama Party nitwits pushing this care? They don't pay taxes.