Saturday, February 03, 2007

Time to be Clear about Bush Healthcare Plans

President Bush’s proposals to reign in entitlement programs involve benefit cuts and even a reduction in who gets coverage. Last year’s Congressional Medicaid reform is projected to drop tens of thousands of people from the rolls. It allows states to impose premium sharing, higher deductibles and increased co-payments.

With nearly 47 million Americans without health insurance, the President is not proposing the federal government pick up the slack. His tax credit proposals do give 5 million people (already insured and making over $50,000 a year) a nice new deduction come April 15th each year.

President Bush’s own projections show his tax credit will reduce the number of uninsured by only 5 to 10%. That gets it down to the total seen sometime in 2002, the President’s second year in office.

Who does Bush want to take the brunt of future reductions in Medicare and Medicaid spending? The answer is providers like hospitals and “higher income” recipients. Rest assured Bush will do little to upset the senior lobby before 2008. This leaves Medicaid for greater premium sharing. How does one define a “higher income” poor person?

As for hospitals, many safety net facilities are already financially strained from the burden of caring for the uninsured. Cutting payments to those makes as much sense at adding leeches to a patient with a lost limb. But ever the 17th century healer, President Bush continues to work his magic on American domestic policy.

Will dunking soon return? Ooopppsss, I forgot about waterboarding, the modern day portable dunking endorsed by Vice President Cheney!

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