The passage of a bill that will supposedly “reform” private health insurance, while radically altering the manner by which medical services are delivered to American citizens, was achieved with much drama, less prudence, and no judgment as Congress voted 219-212 in favor of a measure widely seen as seriously if not fatally flawed — even by many of its proponents.
Fittingly, it was in the last few hours of debate that the dishonesty of reform supporters reached its zenith. A toothless executive order piously reiterating the language of the Hyde Amendment banning federal funds for abortion was signed by the president, thus supplying a fig leaf for “pro-life” Democrats, allowing them to vote in favor of the bill and giving Speaker Nancy Pelosi the margin she needed for victory.
But as Jennifer Rubin points out, “If ObamaCare says, ‘We will subsidize abortion,’ no executive order can effectively say, ‘but not really.’”
On such trivialities was the partisan coalition of Democrats cobbled together to pass the bill.
Indeed, in a striking and ironic twist to the entire debate over nationalized health insurance, the president’s call for a bipartisan effort was met not by proponents of the bill, but by its enemies. The 34 Democrats who opposed the measure made the bill the president’s first success in creating a bipartisan coalition, although the fact that it almost derailed the effort to realize his dream of massive federal regulation of the insurance industry probably gives him little cheer.
What hath Congress wrought? The difference between what the president and congressional Democrats say the bill will do, and the likely effect the legislation will have on the lives of American citizens, is a chasm whose depth and girth is unknowable. What we know is that more people will have health insurance, and that those who currently have no insurance due to a pre-existing condition will be able to purchase policies. Beyond that, Democratic claims such as insurance that offers more benefits while costing less and no change in most citizens’ insurance plans are viewed with a jaundiced eye by serious analysts. If we didn’t know any better, we would accuse the Democrats of lying about this, except they wouldn’t lie about something as critically important as health insurance, would they?
It is written that doctors and hospitals will receive less in payments from the government for treating Medicare patients, but nobody believes that. It is written that the government will dutifully find hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare fraud, but no one believes they will find as much as they are saying they will. It is written that state Medicaid programs will be just fine with the sudden influx of 30 million new subscribers, although the balance between federal and state contributions to the program will not change and nobody believes the burden on states won’t skyrocket.
In short, despite the fact that no one believes some of the basic actuarial and fiscal assumptions that under-gird this legislation — no one who isn’t besotted with partisan fervor — it was rammed down the throats of the American people with as much cynicism, trickery, deliberate obfuscation, and budgetary tomfoolery as has ever been seen for a major piece of legislation in the history of the republic.