Monday, November 16, 2009

Asked, Unanswered

After months and months of fawning, pliant coverage from the Maine media, a genuine reporter has stood up and had the temerity to ask Sen. Collins not one but two serious question about health care reform.

Kudos to Jackie Farwell and Mainebiz:

You've said you're troubled by the proposal to fund reform by cutting $500 billion from Medicare. How do you suggest we pay for the reform?

I think part of the problem with the bill is that it would finance a massive expansion of government, totaling a trillion, over a trillion dollars if you look at the House bill for example, and it would do so by slashing $500 billion out of the Medicare program and by imposing a series of new taxes, fees and penalties on small businesses, on individuals and on medical equipment manufacturers and on insurance companies. The problem with that is those increased taxes...are going to drive up the cost of health insurance. For example, probably half the insurers in this country are nonprofit and yet they are going to have new taxes to pay. They are going to pass that on to the consumer.

So I think we need an approach that focuses more on reducing the cost of health care and then invest those savings into expanding coverage. I would start by providing generous tax credits for small businesses because over 60% of people who are uninsured work for small businesses that can’t afford to provide them insurance. So to help to make health insurance more affordable to small businesses, you would lower the number of uninsured Americans by a substantial amount, by millions.
So Collins is going to pay for expanded coverage out tax credits? In short, by giving out more money? An unorthodox approach to cost trimming to say the least.

And that's the only solution she puts forward, unless you count her comment about "reducing the cost of health care." But of course, everyone wants to reduce costs. Being able to throw around buzzwords isn't the same thing as having an actual plan.

Bottom line: Collins, asked a direct question, replied with what is basically gobbledygook.

And it gets better:

You voted for Medicare Part D, which was an unfunded new health care program and the costs are estimated now around $1 trillion. But the Finance Committee’s health care bill would be offset by cuts elsewhere, and Obama has said he won’t sign it if it increases the deficit. Can you explain your rationale?

Medicare Part D has turned out to be far less expensive than the amount that you just quoted...I voted to means test Medicare Part D so that higher-income people would be paying more for their drug coverage and that would have lowered the cost even further. My position didn't prevail on that, but I did vote to means test--in other words to require high-income people to pay more of a premium than lower-income people for Medicare Part D, so I've shown that I've been concerned about the cost of Medicare.
Um, what? Sure, Collins voted for an amendment to means test the unfunded, budget-busting program--to make it slightly less fiscally irresponsible. But when that amendment failed she still voted for the bill.

For this she wants credit? Because she voiced some (purported) misgivings about an indefensible plan before helping it become a reality?

Ridiculous--and almost laughable.

Amazing what happens when someone asks serious, straightforward questions.

No comments: