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Monday, March 22nd, 2010 03:11 pm

Derek Lowe (of In the Pipeline, and of Things i Won't Work With fame) discusses his thoughts on the health care bill.

Here goes: first off, it's rather hard for me to get past my anger at being told (repeatedly, by both the President and members of Congress) that this bill will "bend the cost curve" and on top of that, actually reduce the deficit.  This is, in this case, such a transparent lie that it indicates actual contempt for their audience on the part of those repeating it.  We can start with history and general principles: I have yet to hear of a state or federal health care system in this country that has not ended up costing hugely more than it was ever slated to.

I can get more specific in this case, though, since the entire bill was carefully structured to show a spurious deficit reduction (in order for it to be pushed through the budget reconciliation process, without which it could not have passed at all).  Costs are pushed out past the Congressional Budget Office's ten-year time horizon, offloaded onto the states (whose Attorneys-General are now frantically trying to figure out what to do), or just blatantly left out.  In the last category is the "doc fix", the adjustment to Medicare reimbursement rates that had to be dropped from the current bill in order to hocus the CBO numbers.  The firm understanding between the interested parties is that the House will quietly pass that in the near future when not so many people are paying attention, and damn the numbers anyway.  As I said above, "contempt" is the word that keeps coming to mind.

I share his reservations.  Particularly at this time in history, with the US economy already punch-drunk and reeling and with the second body-blow of commercial property defaults about to start hitting any time now, I have serious concerns that the real costs of this bill, and the overall staggering rate at which this administration is spending money it doesn't have (it has actually accomplished the near-impossible of making the just-passed Bush administration look frugal by comparison) may bankrupt the United States.  The US national debt is now something over $40,000 for every man, woman and child in the US, and is increasing at about $11 per person per day.  By the end of this year it will be approaching $44,000 per person.