Let me see if I can get this straight. The newest idea floating around Congress is to drop the public option from the health care reform bill, but make coverage mandatory and fine those who fail to take out this mandatory coverage up to $3,800.
This is the brainchild of Montana Democrat Max Baucus, whose state represents less than one percent of the population, but who, thanks to his seniority, chairs the Senate Finance Committee. In this case, the tail is doing a hell of a lot more than wagging the dog.
It’s another example of congressional genius hard at work. The logic simmers: Most people who don’t have coverage can’t afford it in the first place. So Congress wants to fine them for being too poor to afford the coverage the new law would require them to buy. This presents the spectacle of a family that is being forced into financial ruin by mounting medical bills being pushed further into penury by a hefty fine because they don’t have the coverage they can’t afford.
This didn’t stop Sen. Henry Reid from bouncing out of a strategy meeting with Obama crowing that, “We’re re-energized; we’re ready to do health care reform.” (The Democrats idea of reform is to grease up the iron bar before reaming the public.)
Under the Baucus plan, “A 60-year-old could be charged five times as much for a policy as a 20-year-old. So, there’d be no death panels snuffing grandma, just a government driving her into the poor house.
The heaviest fines for being unable to afford coverage would fall on families making three times the federal poverty level, or $66,000. A family of four trying to get by on $66,000 in San Francisco or New York City is sucking wind. But what would a senator from Montana know about that?
But, these families do get a bone thrown to them. The premiums for the mandatory health coverage they couldn’t afford would be capped at 13 percent of their income. For a mere $8,500 a year that they don’t have, they are covered. That’s $715 a month from a monthly income of $5500.
That should solve the problem of childhood obesity.
I assume that fines for the unemployed would be deducted from their unemployment benefits.
Fear not, however, the plan is not entirely lacking in common decency. "...it would require helthy fees [read chump change] on insurers, drug companies and others in the health care business to help pay for it."
In lieu of a public option, Baucus has a vision of nonprofit co-ops. I’ve no doubt the insurance companies would be more than happy to organize them, for a fee.
The only consolation is that this whole health care reform gig was a public relations ploy from the start. One thing our publicly-elected congress will never do is slip their handlers’ leash. They bring to mind the Leonard Cohen song that opens with, “I thought that I heard your master’s voice when I was sick in bed….”