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Mitch McConnell Still Doesn’t Like Dems’ Health Reform Bill

Nothing shocking here. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took to the chamber floor this morning to decry the Democrats’ $848 billion health reform bill, unveiled about 15 hours earlier.

After six weeks of drafting a bill behind closed doors, the Majority has produced a bill that increases premiums, raises taxes, and slashes Medicare by half a trillion dollars to create a new government program. This is not what the American people want. I don’t believe they think this is reform. This is not the direction to take.

It’s a little early to grasp everything that’s contained in the bill, but it’s worth noting a few things about the criticisms.

  • The primary tax increases in the Senate bill target only the wealthiest Americans. One bumps Medicare’s payroll tax from 1.45 percent to 1.95 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 per year, and families earning more than $250,000, while another applies a 40 percent tax to insurance plans costing more than $8,500 for individuals, or $23,000 for families (excepting a number of blue-collar jobs). Those aren’t typically middle-class salaries or insurance rates.
  • The largest chunk of the Medicare cuts ($118 billion worth over 10 years) don’t target Medicare, but the private insurance plans that the government pays to cover Medicare patients. That program, called Medicare Advantage, costs taxpayers roughly 14 percent more per senior than the traditional program. The MA “cuts” actually just scale back the insurance company subsidies so that rates are more closely aligned with those under traditional Medicare.
  • Many of the proposed cuts in Medicare are designed to discourage provider behaviors that lead to needless treatments and expenses. One provision, for example, “cuts” payments to hospitals for treating conditions that were acquired after the patient arrived at the facility.
  • Many other Medicare “cuts” are not really cuts at all, but proposals to slow growth in projected spending. That is, the raise for some providers might be reduced, but it will be a raise nonetheless.

Last year, the Bush administration proposed hundreds of billions of similar Medicare “cuts.”

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