Policy Documents

A False Bill of Rights

June 25, 2010

In this post, Benjamin Domenech speaks to Jason Lewis of Health Care News discussing the public relations campaign that the White House is undertaking to push through its health care obectives.  


I talked to Jason Lewis this week on the latest podcast from Health Care News, which you can listen to here. We discussed the latest public relations posturing from the White House, and it's worth recognizing how this game is being played.

As part of the White House's pre-emptive blame game for insurers who will have to raise premiums under the new health care regime, President Obama this week released a so-called "Patients Bill of Rights" to the media, highlighting new regulatory steps taken under the authority of his health care law. It isn't a Bill of Rights, it's a Fact Sheet -- and it's light on the facts.

The truth is that despite the claims of the president, the most significant aspect of this so-called Bill of Rights hasn't even happened -- the state-level high risk pools for the sick adults, designed to span them over until insurers must accept all applicants starting in 2014. It's months behind schedule. The states all agree that the feds didn't give them enough time to do basic due diligence, and what's more, they're all limiting enrollment because they're concerned the federal funding for these pools could run dry.

Take Kansas for example -- they've got a quarter of a million uninsured, and they're going to limit their pool to 25 enrollees per month. And guess what -- even that may be too many!  According to a letter released yesterday, even under the best case scenario, the Congressional Budget Office finds that the pools are going to run out of money by 2012. Obama budgeted $5 billion for four years of these pools, but CBO says they need $10 billion more in just two years.  That means even more severe limits on who can enroll -- it's not just a solution that doesn't work, it's got a funding stream that's completely inadequate.

This is just like White House efforts to sell the $250 Medicare checks for seniors (which 90 percent of Medicare beneficiaries won’t get) or the ‘small business tax credits’ that hardly any small businesses will receive.  And it's a pathetic attempt to disguise the reason they're going to have to embrace price controls for the broader market faster than almost anyone expected: their own policies are doing this.

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is managing editor of Health Care News.