Legislators Pack Health Care Legislation with Christmas Presents – For Themselves

This is the time of the year when most people are so busy with holiday preparations they lose track of what the government is doing with their hard-earned tax money. Interestingly, it is at this time when Congressmen are working hardest to pass health care legislation.

The Senate legislation is replete with earmarks. Senator Reid, in fact, contends that any legislation has to be driven by special interests. Senator Ben Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Senator Christopher Dodd. North Dakota gets higher Medicare reimbursement rates thanks to an amendment to the health care bill introduced by Dorgan and Conrad.  The list of earmarks for individual senators is never ending.

It is most curious, though, given that it was the Democrats who unveiled their Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, because of the Republicans’ “pay to play” politics.

The impact of the bill on regular taxpayers cannot to overstated. The Senate bill imposes a $750 penalty per worker on employers of 50 or more who are not covered by the federally approved package of health benefits. The same penalty applies to individuals who do not purchase federally mandated health insurance. The Senate bill also requires states to expand their Medicaid programs to cover anyone up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

The Senate bill establishes a new set of “multi-state” private health plans sponsored by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that would compete against private health plans in the state based on exchanges that are mandated by the provision of the Senate bill.

The only thing taxpayers can expect from this holiday season is a greater tax burden.