In breaking with her Republican colleagues to vote for that Senate committee bill, Senator Snowe said she still has reservations about it, especially about its cost. And with good reason. Consider what just happened to the bill in recent days.
Central to it was a tradeoff. Insurance companies would no longer be able to refuse coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Nor could they charge sick people higher premiums. In return, the bill would require everyone, sick and healthy, to have insurance, thus providing the companies a stream of new premiums from the healthy to cover the care of the sick.
But the committee then voted to weaken the penalties on those who refused to obtain coverage. That made it inevitable that millions would opt out of the system, choosing to pay the modest penalties, and wait until they got sick to get insurance, knowing they could not be turned down because they were sick.
The insurance industry responded with a report Tuesday that said the bill would end up raising health care premiums for everybody. No kidding. The report was immediately denounced by the White House, but that's almost beside the point, which is this: The major cost of this whole new insurance entitlement is supposed to be paid for by about a half trillion dollars in unspecified Medicare cuts.
Does anyone believe that a Congress that can't put teeth into its insurance requirement, would actually make those kinds of cuts in Medicare, perhaps the most popular program ever passed?
— Brit Hume is the senior political analyst for Fox News Channel.