Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The secret health plan

Senator Max Baucus has a secret.

That is, he had a secret until today, when the Associated Press obtained a copy of it.

The secret is what's in his compromise health care reform plan, the one that's been touted as the core of the soon-to-be consolidated health care reform bill that some Democrats intend to ram through the House and Senate before the end of the year.

"A top senator is calling for fines of up to $3,800 on families who fail to get medical insurance after a health care overhaul goes into effect," the AP reported, "The plan from Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana would make health insurance mandatory, just like auto coverage."

Well, not "just like" auto coverage. If you don't own a car, you don't have to buy auto coverage. However, if you don't have a job with benefits, or $3,000 to $10,000 a year for health insurance, the Democrats want to make you a criminal.

But wait, surely the kind-hearted Senator Baucus has sympathy for criminals.

Yes, of course he does.

The plan "would provide tax credits to help cover the cost for people making up to three times the federal poverty level. That's about $66,000 for a family of four, and $32,000 for an individual," the AP reveals.

Tax credits don't help you if you don't owe any taxes because you're not working, and unemployment is almost ten percent in this country.

So the tax credits are probably "refundable," which is another way of saying the government will send money that was withheld from someone else's paycheck to the people who need help buying mandatory health insurance. They'll just call it a tax credit in the hope that you won't notice.

This generosity with other people's money is expected to allow everyone to buy insurance.

"Those who still don't sign up would face hefty fines, starting at $750 a year for individuals and $1,500 for families," the AP reported.

Apparently the federal government will have to verify everybody's earnings and assets, to be sure the "tax credits" are going to people who meet the financial-need test.

It's not clear if these income verifications would be handled by the IRS, or if some new federal agency would have unlimited access to IRS data, or if there will be a brand-new financial auditing agency to look at everybody's income and assets in the name of protecting the taxpayers.

What is clear is that health care reform is dead, although we're still going to have to sit through a two-month siege of televised speeches and rallies. But don't worry. If it didn't revive Michael Jackson it's not going to revive health care reform.

Copyright 2009

Editor's note: You might be interested in the earlier posts, "Bad at math," "Just kill it," "Yes we can and no we won't," and "Gazing into the future."