Why is stuff for the rest of us never tied to inflation? Anyway, I just wanted to highlight letsgetitdone‘s devastating comment on the emerging health insurance bill, yesterday over at firedoglake:
Also, the health care subsidies provided in the bill are not tied by the legislation to inflation in private insurance premiums. So, as the years pass, this bill will provide mandates for individuals to buy insurance, but subsidies that are inadequate to fund private sector premiums. This situation may even exist in 2013, since the lack of price controls in the bill almost guarantees that by the time the exchange is operative, insurance premiums will have risen 40-50% over today’s prices.
[P.S. -- Jason Rosenbaum in comment 2 below sez this pre-2013 inflation concern may be groundless.]
Great, what an easy way for Congress to cut subsidies by 12-14% every year going forward, which is how much premiums have been skyrocketing recently. After all, it’s just raising ‘taxes’ on the lower-middle class and working poor, who I don’t see a whole lot of the health care debate Congressional Democrats or Republicans giving a shit about. The quote is confirmed by Julie Appleby of Kaiser Health News, in In Finance Bill’s Fine Print May Cause Sticker Shock For Some Consumers, though the relevant provisions are not at all simple. She introduces the topic as follows:
Proponents of the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill say the legislation will limit the amount that lower- and middle-income people must pay for health insurance to a maximum of 12 percent of their incomes.
But there’s a catch: The fine print shows that, over time, the premium costs could rise well beyond those caps. That’s because the cost of coverage would shift from a percentage of income to a percentage of the premium, no matter how high the premiums go.
Wow, btw, so they settled on 12 percent? Pretty hefty that. Obviously (from the same article):
Economist Uwe Reinhardt of Princeton says it would be better to limit the amount paid by lower income families to a percentage of income, even if it required more federal money for subsidies.
“That way the risk is borne by the taxpayer,” says Reinhardt. The way the legislation is written, he added, “the risk of the premium increase is borne by the low-income family.”
[Judith Solomon, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities] says although this issue has not generated much debate yet, it could if enacted.
But the growth over time of how much people pay toward premiums “will be one of the things to look at once implementation goes forward,” Solomon says. “It gives at least the feeling that there is a real stake in keeping [premium] growth down.”
Well, why the hell hasn’t it generated much debate? Why is this one of those ‘after passage and implementation we gotta monitor that’ deals? Ferchrissakes write your Congressperson and demand that (fucking obviously) the subsidies in the final bill must be tied to the inflation in health insurance premiums. Nobody in Congress who claims the ‘progressive’ label should be allowed to vote for a measure designed to ‘tax’ and further impoverish some of the worst off people in our country. C’mon pwoggies!