America needs to change the health care system because regular folks are getting hosed. There's no question about that. Greedy insurance companies and insane medical charges have made it impossible for millions of Americans to protect themselves against disease. That cannot stand. We have to fix the problem.
President Obama's vision is a giant federal apparatus, funded primarily by affluent Americans. That's not going to work. The expense is simply too great. Punitive taxation will not be able to pay the bills, and the USA could very well go bankrupt, just as California has.
So what do we do? Let's run it down. The Senate Health Committee has passed a bill with every Republican on that committee voting against it. That would force all Americans to enroll in a health insurance plan or face tax penalties. The government proposes to subsidize American families making up to $88,000 a year. That would cost the feds more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
To pay that enormous sum, Mr. Obama wants to raise taxes on Americans making more than $280,000 a year. The tax increase might top out at five percent for millionaires, raising their overall income tax rate to 45 percent, the highest since 1986. But even raising taxes that high on the affluent wouldn't pay the total health care costs. Thus, the federal deficit would grow even larger, putting the nation's financial system at great risk.
The plan, of course, fits into President Obama's vision of redistributing income, transferring money to those less well off. In effect, wealthy Americans paying the bills for non-wealthy Americans.
But there is another way, if Mr. Obama cares, which he may not.
In Switzerland, where I visited a couple of weeks ago, every citizen by law has to have health care insurance. But the government doesn't pay. This citizen himself or herself pays, but the government regulates the insurance industry to make sure there's no gouging and premiums are fair. If a Swiss citizen can't afford to pay, the government provides. About 19 percent of Swiss are in that category.
The key to reforming in the American health care industry is oversight on costs, punishing frivolous lawsuits against doctors, mandating that hospitals charge according to government guidelines. Also, setting up clinics for the poor, where they can go to be treated free of charge. That's doable and wouldn't bankrupt the nation. It allows the private system we have in place to continue, but prevents exploitation and price gouging. Every state has medical boards right now. All they have to do is police costs and any violation could result in a loss of license.
"Talking Points" doesn't believe the feds can run an efficient health care system, but the government can stop profiteering and unfair practices. But if the Obama vision becomes law, care will be rationed and expenses will run wild. That will happen. You heard it here.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
Congratulations to Spongebob. He's 10 years old and worth $8 billion. That's how much money Nickelodeon is estimated to have raked in from the Spongebob guy.
Now we like Bob, but he does sometimes beat us in the ratings, so we may have to kidnap him. And with an $8 billion legacy, I think we can get quite a ransom. Spongebob is a patriot.
On the pinhead front, the job market is tight, as you know. So some ladies in Arizona are getting creative. They are cleaning houses topless. Of course, there is a surcharge for that. But the ladies say they also offer stimulating conversation — I bet — and will make dinner for their clients upon request. Does the Health Department know?
Pinheads? In a tough economy, you have to make the call on it.