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Monday, October 19, 2009

Palin Takes on Baucus

Sarah Palin's facebook page has been relatively quiet lately. She made it louder with a roughly 1000 word commentary on the Baucus bill. Most of the criticism echoed that of the Price Waterhouse report released earlier last week. The main criticism comes down to the idea that pre existing conditions will no longer stop someone from being covered but the penalties for not having coverage will be small.

The bill prohibits insurance companies from refusing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and from charging sick people higher premiums. [1] It attempts to offset the costs this will impose on insurance companies by requiring everyone to purchase coverage, which in theory would expand the pool of paying policy holders.

However, the maximum fine for those who refuse to purchase health insurance is $750. [2] Even factoring in government subsidies, the cost of purchasing a plan is much more than $750. The result: many people, especially the young and healthy, will simply not buy coverage, choosing to pay the fine instead. They’ll wait until they’re sick to buy health insurance, confident in the knowledge that insurance companies can’t deny them coverage. Such a scenario is a perfect storm for increasing the cost of health care and creating an unsustainable mandate program.


Like the conclusion of the Price WaterHouse study, Palin concludes that young people will simply not get insurance until they get sick. This will drive up costs for everyone and thus only make health care even more expensive. It's important to note that in demonizing the likes of Palin and the insurance companies no one has answered this charge. No one has been able to say how this assessment is wrong, and that's because it isn't. The administration claims that subsidies and credits aren't factored into the formulation. That's absurd. Neither subsidies or credits are free and neither bring down the cost of health insurance. All it does is move the cost from one party to another. This is the biggest flaw in the Baucus bill. It can't be fixed. If Baucus' bill raises the fees and penalties that would be a massive new tax. Covering those with pre existing conditions sounds great in theory but in reality, there are major flaws in this scheme.

Beyond this, Palin also criticizes the president's hypocritical lack of transparency.

In January 2008, presidential candidate Obama promised not to negotiate behind closed doors with health care lobbyists. In fact, he committed to “broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are. Because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process. And overcoming the special interests and the lobbyists...” [12] However, last February, after serving only a few weeks in office, President Obama met privately at the White House with health care industry executives and lobbyists. [13] Yesterday, POLITICO reported that aides to President Obama and Democrat Senator Max Baucus met with corporate lobbyists in April to help “set in motion a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, primarily financed by industry groups, that has played a key role in bolstering public support for health care reform.” [14] Needless to say, their negotiations were not broadcast on C-SPAN for the American people to see.


It's often difficult for people to see how corrosive non transparency is. That's because there is no direct effect from non transparency to people's lives. After all, if a bill helps you, do you really care if it was done transparently. Instead, non transparency corrodes the system until the system itself stops helping the masses and helps the special interests. People need to understand that these bills are over 1000 pages. So, unless everyone is going to read and fully analyze them all, they need to know how someone came to the decision they did. When deals are made behind closed doors, then deals are made that benefit the deal makers and not the public. That's what is happening now. Once the process is corrupted, the bill is no longer viable. That's what we have now.

All of these points Palin made as well. Palin once again renewed her support for free market ideas. I continue to be surprised that Palin didn't try to take the lead in debating health care reform. Her contributions have been at the margins. Everytime she made a contribution it wasn't merely debated but hyperanalyzed. Death panels became a part of the lexicon. Yet, she makes a contribution every few weeks rather than on a regular basis. She could have gotten a lot more involved. Palin said one of the reasons she stopped being Governor was to support conservative people and ideas. This was the perfect platform for that. She's stuck one foot in the water but to be taken seriously, she needs to get deep into the fight.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

So Palin is criticizing the weakness of the individual mandate in the Baucus Bill even though it was largely weakened at the request of Charles Grassley who first supported an individual mandate, but now claims its unconstitutional?

Either Palin is attacking a fellow Republican, or she's criticizing the Democrats from the left.

Anonymous said...

Sarah Palin is the political equivalent of a national league pinch hitter. Good for a situational hit or two, but not good enough to play every day.

mike volpe said...

Palin's political book is still unwritten so underestimate her at your own peril. She contributes effectively to debates. I think in this debate she could and should have contributed more. That said, this is one debate and she'll have plenty of opportunities.

As for the first comment, I'm not sure that's true and it's beside the point anyway. I believe that Grassley stopped negotiating and Baucus pulled back the mandate when he got criticized for it. There are other problems with having an onerous mandate that would force everyone to get insurance. So, that's frankly beside the point. The problem is that Democrats didn't think about what the consequences of forcing insurance companies to cover those with pre existing conditions is.

Anonymous said...

Of course they thought about the consequences, that's why they pushed for a strong individual mandate. But they knew how unpopular it would be to force people to buy insurance from the insurance industry that is largely considered the problem. That's why a public option is so necessary.

mike volpe said...

That's right because if you force insurance companies to cover everyone and don't force them to get insurance then insurance companies go out of business. Then, you have single payer. Which is what most that support the public option really want?

No, they didn't think about the consequences which is why health care reform is such a mess.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Ever thought the PriceWaterhouse report was skewed so insurance companies will support their bottom line?

How can it be trusted?
Yet you don't even seem to question it.

The insurance companies care about one thing - profit. They will do whatever it takes and release whatever "studies" they see fit to achieve that. The fact Palin is parroting lines from it sows her stupidity more than anything else.