I attended Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI, and my Congressman) townhall meeting at the Franklin Public Library, where he dropped off a copy of the 1,990-page present House version of PlaceboCare. If you have the 36 minutes to watch the entire townhall, the 4-part video is below (and yes, it is recommended). If you don’t read the Cliff’s Notes version while you watch the short version from Ryan’s office:
- Ryan would have brought more copies, but with the bill being over a foot tall, he couldn’t carry more than one on the plane. Fortunately, he did put it up on his House website.
- H.R. 3962 would represent the largest tax increase in the history of the country, with a surtax of 5.4% on those making over $500,000 per year ($1,000,000 for couples) hitting most small businesses as well, a 2.5% medical device tax, a new payroll tax and the removal of the tax-exempt status of Health Savings Accounts.
- Abortions would be paid for under the public option, and the bill would also establish an accounting gimmick to justify subsidizing private plans that cover abortion.
- In order to make it appear to be deficit-“neutral”, it removed a $245 billion provision that would reverse a planned reduction in Medicare reimbursement rates, with plans to pass that as a stand-alone bill (or more-likely, attached to something else).
- The $170 billion in Medicare Advantage cuts will, according to Medicare’s actuaries, cause 64% of those on Medicare Advantage off that program and raise the rates paid by those remaining in it.
- Speaking of rate increases, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Milwaukee estimates that the bill will increase the insurance rates of those in their twenties by 199% (that’s essentially tripling it), those in their 40s by 122%, and those in their 50s by double-digits.
- Instead of attempting to fix the joint state-federal Medicaid, which is currently bankrupting a lot of states, it increases its size by 50%.
- The malpractice tort “reform” will be limited to states that do not cap damages, thus making it anything but reform (Ryan called it a “fig leaf”).
- While the House Republicans will be offering a “consolidated” substitute amendment next week, it is unknown whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as part of hers, President Barack Obama’s and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to use one-party rule to ram this through, will even allow it to see the floor.
- On the House side, the current plan is to get this to the floor on Thursday, with a vote on Saturday. On the Senate side, a cloture vote is expected sometime in the third week of November, but ultimately it won’t be necessary as the groundwork has been laid to pass this through “reconciliation”, which requires a simple majority instead of 60 votes to invoke cloture.
- Even though the current tally of the correspondence at the Ryan office is 9-1 against, he urged people to once again call Senators Kohl and Feingold to keep the pressure up, especially because it is not inevitable.
- He explained why this was his first opportunity to come back to the district after the August recess – Pelosi is trying to keep everybody in Washington so they don’t hear from their constituents.
Revisions/extensions (5:02 pm 10/30/2009) - Just received word that the new bill has a new bill number. It is now H.R. 3962.
R&E part 2 (5:28 pm 10/30/2009) - The preliminary CBO first-decade scoring is in. Between the “meeting” with Obama resulting in some “technical” changes, the removal of planned fixes to the reduction in Medicare reimbursements (removing $245 billion in costs), a further reduction in those reimbursement rates (which, along wth other cuts in Medicare amount to $426 billion), and taxes/fees/penalties equalling $739 billion, they were able to squeeze out a debt “reduction” of $104 billion out of a bill spending $1,055 billion (that would be $1.055 trillion for those who missed the comma) in new outlays.