The article is a good read and makes the point that as of right now, the Senate version will make these people with cancer or diabetes wait 6 months before they get insurance. The obvious hope here is that they will be dead and therefore not need the insurance anymore.
I digress though, that is not the point of this post. This part of the article caught my eye.
Now, concerns are being raised about the design of the high-risk pools. In addition to the six-month wait, there's a more fundamental issue -- whether $5 billion set aside for the three-year program is enough. The money would be used to help people in poor health pay premiums.
It may be easier to fix the waiting period than the financing.
Both the House and the Senate Finance bills set aside $5 billion for the pools.
"It doesn't seem like it's near enough money," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was a top domestic policy adviser for McCain. The McCain campaign ultimately concluded it could take as much as $20 billion a year to properly run risk pools, he said. The White House says McCain's proposal was more elaborate and not directly comparable to Obama's.
(sidebar: note the last sentence. The WH acts as if the bills in Congress do not have Obama's input, he will weigh in once they have a finished project. This gives him political cover in case they prove unpopular. Does this last sentence seem a little contradictory to that notion?)
So there is the question. Is Congress running a shell game on us?
This is not the first time we have heard people, from analysts to pundits to the CBO question whether Congress is properly funding the health care overhaul.
Is this how they are keeping costs down? Keeping the reform "budget neutral"? By underfunding it?
Is there a plan to push these bills through with tepid public support because they will not destroy our economy and then come in later and pass supplemental bills to fund them? Traditionally supplemental funding bills can be tacked onto more palatable legislation such as funding the military and the added cost of the supplemental doesn't get as much public attention. Further, it is hard for a Congressional member to vote against such a bill because they then get accused of not supporting the troops, or whatever the bills intent is.
Then we have this:
If the Democrats' risk pool starts running out of money, the government may have to start a waiting list, raise premiums or take other unpopular measures. Congress could be asked for a bailout.
So there you have it. We will have a choice between paying more for the coverage, rationing, or, of course, increased funding.
There is a limit to how much they can raise premiums, especially on the poor or those who are chronically ill and cannot work.
As far as rationing, I believe it will already happen but again there is a limit to this. The public is only going to hear so many stories of people dying on waiting lists before there is push-back. Americans are not used to a European style health care system and will not take well to long waiting lists. Americans are simply too inpatient. We complain if we wait too long in line for fast food. Let these same people wait 6 months for an MRI or wait a year for a hip replacement.
There is only one logical alternative left, increased funding.
Finally, we have this
Health Care Reform Assumes Millions Would Pay Fine Rather Than Get Coverage
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in its study last week that the House health care bill would bring in $167 billion over 10 years in penalties from those who don't get coverage.
The health care reform bill awaiting debate in the House assumes millions of workers and employers would rather pay $167 billion in fines than purchase or provide adequate coverage, according to a recent analysis, raising questions about whether the plan does enough to make insurance affordable.
Though the bill is estimated to expand coverage from the current 83 percent to 96 percent of legal U.S. residents, the windfall of projected penalty payments also exposes a potential contradiction in reform. A significant part of the plan to expand coverage relies financially on fines from the uninsured.
Watch the shells and see if you can keep track of the peanut.