NY Times: Individual Mandate is a Tax & Now Fewer Health Care Options

The New York Times had not one, but two stories over the weekend on things we learned about “what’s in the bill”, that we had to wait until it was passed to find out about (according to House Speaker Pelosi).

For starters, the Obama administration is now calling the individual mandate a tax. Earlier, of course – for public relations purposes – they denied the individual mandate was a tax. Now, for legal purposes, they contend it is.

When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

In a separate story, the Times also informs readers that insurers are offering plans with fewer options in choosing your doctor or hospital.

As the Obama administration begins to enact the new national health care law, the country’s biggest insurers are promoting affordable plans with reduced premiums that require participants to use a narrower selection of doctors or hospitals. …

The tradeoff, they say, is that more Americans will be asked to pay higher prices for the privilege of choosing or keeping their own doctors if they are outside the new networks. That could come as a surprise to many who remember the repeated assurances from President Obama and other officials that consumers would retain a variety of health-care choices.

So the “you can keep your doctor” rhetoric was also a bogus argument.

And the Harrisburg Patriot News adds more fuel to the fire, noting that anyone using a Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA), or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), will now have to get a prescription to buy over-the-counter drugs.

Normally, I would conclude with a snarky comment mocking those who told us how great the new health care law would be, or a veiled reference to “hope” and “change,” or with a “We Told You So!”  But today I’ll just note that I could do any of that, but choose not to.